Areas within the Rivers Tone, Parrett, Axe and Brue catchments are affected by Nutrient Neutrality due to excess phosphorus levels in the Somerset Levels designated site. This region includes the following Local Planning Authorities (LPAs)
The affected areas in the Somerset Levels catchment cover a number of towns, including Taunton, Yeovil, Cheddar, Wellington, Glastonbury, Street, Shepton Mallett, Wells, Bruton, Axbridge, Crewkerne, Chard, Ilminster, Somerton and Langport.
A detailed map of the area is shown below, and we also have a full UK Nutrient Neutrality Map.
Greenshank only works on Nutrient Neutrality.
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We would characterise the mitigation market in the catchment as fairly weak as while some schemes are beginning to come online, there is still a limited supply of phosphorus credits. Mitigation is being priced on a per house basis, with the cost of nutrient credits generally being quite high. Typically these are in the region of £5,000 to £7,000 per house.
The area has a variety of levels of nutrient stripping technology at the wastewater treatment works for phosphorus. New houses currently require between < 0.1 kg to 0.89 kg of phosphorus mitigation per house This creates significant opportunities for landowners looking at mitigation schemes.
We forecast demand outstripping supply for at least the next 2 years, despite new schemes coming online (see below).
There are approximately 71 wastewater treatment works in the Nutrient Neutrality area in Somerset. Two of these works are already at operating at technically achievable limits (TAL) for phosphorus removal. Over the current upgrade cycle (AMP7), running to 2025:
In order to meet the upgrade requirements that may be brought in under the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, referred to as the ‘TAL upgrades’, 25 treatment works will be upgraded to have phosphorus removal technologies by 2030. This means 46 treatment works will remain above the most stringent phosphorus removal requirements. Developments connecting to these treatment works will need more mitigation than those connecting to the 19 treatment works getting TAL upgrades.
As per our research into water treatment upgrades, we do not believe that it is likely that the water companies will be able to deliver all the upgrades in this cycle.
Natural England Strategic Nutrient Mitigation Scheme
The national-scale Natural England Nutrient Mitigation Scheme is likely to look at deploying mitigation solutions within affected areas of the River Somerset Levels catchment. These schemes may start to come online at the end of 2023, however exact timelines are unclear. The scheme is focussing on nature-based solutions such as wetlands and catchment management methods.
Somerset West and Taunton Interim Mitigation Measures
The Somerset West and Taunton LPA are bringing forward around 65.3 kg/yr of phosphorus mitigation at a cost of £55k per kg, equating to between £5.5-49k per house. There are limited technical details available for this scheme and it will serve developments in the River Tone catchment.
EnTrade Catchment Market
A pilot project has been slated for some time, with a proposal to develop a catchment market for phosphorus mitigation with mitigation schemes brokered by EnTrade. It is not clear when this will start to offer phosphorus credits to the development sector.
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