New planning advice has been issued by Chichester District Council following concerns that water abstraction in the north of the district is impacting on protected sites in the Arun Valley.
Natural England is concerned that existing water abstraction in the Sussex North Water Resource Zone, which supplies part of the north of the Chichester District, is having an impact on protected sites in the Arun Valley. The increasing demand for water is thought to be harming internationally protected species, with the potential threat of extinction for some of these species.
In response to this, Natural England has advised that new developments within this zone, which affects Horsham, Crawley and part of the Chichester District(including areas within the South Downs National Park), must not add to this impact. Its advice is that in order for any development to proceed, it must be ‘water neutral.’ This means that new development should not increase the rate of water abstraction from the current water supply site above existing levels.
“It’s important to stress that this only affects a small proportion of our district,” says Cllr Susan Taylor, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning at Chichester District Council.
“Any new development that has a material impact on water demand from this site must demonstrate that it will be water neutral. This is most likely to affect new housing development and commercial activities that use high volumes of water.
“In some circumstances it may affect other types of development - for example, an extension to a home that could lead to a significant increase in the number of people occupying the finished development.”
While Natural England’s position statement will have an effect on some development within the district, it has a much greater impact on Horsham and Crawley, who rely on this site for all of their water supplies.
“We have been working with Natural England and Southern Water on longer term solutions for water neutrality for the affected area, within our emerging Local Plan,” adds Susan.
“In the short term, any planning applications that materially increase water demand in those areas will need to be water neutral. We are also working on a Climate Change campaign, which will encourage residents and businesses to make small behavioural changes that will make a difference. This includes encouraging people to think about how they use water in their own home, and taking simple steps that collectively will make a big difference.”
For further advice people should visit: www.chichester.gov.uk/waterresources, where people can also find a range of frequently asked questions.