MORE than 1,000 homes could be one step closer to being built in Test Valley with a scheme designed to tackle nitrate pollution in the Solent.

In a report to the Partnership for South Hampshire Joint Committee (PfSH), plans for 1,520 homes in the borough have been “significantly backlogged” because of “high levels” of nitrogen and phosphorus in the Solent.

This comes after it was revealed nitrogen from housing wastewater and agricultural sources accelerated the growth of algae, which is believed to be damaging protected wildlife habitats and bird species around the straight that separates the Isle of Wight and England.

Now deputy leader for Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC), Cllr Nick Adams-King, has claimed "1,000 homes" could be built in the county if a legal agreement between Hampshire Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (HIWWT) and Fareham Borough Council (FCB) is successful.

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This follows a scheme put forward by HIWWT that would see developers work with Natural England and planning authorities to agree a “nitrate budget” for their development.

If the scheme works, more than 12,000kg of nitrogen could be offset in Hampshire which would mean 4,839 homes could be given the green light.

Mr Adams-King said: "Fareham Borough Council are working with Hampshire Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and they [HIWWT] are in the process of buying farmland on the Isle of Wight, which will then be rewilded.

"The amount of land being bought is likely to create 1,000 nitrate credits to build 1,000 homes and the good thing about this is it's creating a template that all of the local authorities can use [to secure credits].

"It is being done with the agreement of Natural England, who are the main people who raised the concern, so there is at last some hope."

Romsey Advertiser: Cllr Nick Adams-KingCllr Nick Adams-King

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The proposed solution could help "small developers, tradesman and agents across the region [who] were going out of business", due to "no homes being built across large areas of the region", according to a document from the (PfSH) Joint Committee meeting.

The meeting, held on Tuesday, July 7, stressed finding an answer to the pollution problem is crucial so local planning authorities do not "fail their housing delivery tests".

Officers from PfSH have been working closely with Natural England, the Environment Agency, Southern Water and other partners to find a solution to the nitrate pollution.

A spokesperson from Natural England said: "Natural England have been working closely with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and Fareham Borough Council as this proposal has developed.

"We are supportive of the Wildlife Trust’s scheme to generate nitrate credits using land on the Isle of Wight as it represents one solution towards resolving the issue with nitrates in the Solent."

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Growth Planning Lead at Southern Water, Joff Edevane, said: "The idea to create nitrate credits is a welcome one and will undoubtedly help the situation.

"These schemes are promoted in the Water Industry National Environment Programme for the period of 2025-30, and funded by Ofwat, which means solutions will need to be in place by 2030.

"To help fully resolve the issues with nitrates, the Environment Agency and Natural England will need to identify which releases from our wastewater treatment sites need to be improved."

The Environment Agency has been contacted for comment.