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House of Lords block loosening of water pollution rules

Source: Lord Judge

The House of Lords has rejected the government’s proposal to water down nutrient neutrality rules.

The rules dictate that local authorities should not give the go-ahead to any fresh developments that add to river nutrients such as phosphates and nitrates, either through wastewater from new homes or run-off from building sites.

Shadow minister Nick Thomas-Symonds said the government had put forward “an entirely bogus dilemma”.

He told Radio 4’s Today programme: “Don’t pretend it’s a choice between looking after our environment and building more houses, because it isn’t.”

The government was defeated by 203 votes to 156 over the issue in the upper house, while three Conservative peers voted against the government.

Michael Gove, levelling-up secretary, said: “Sir Keir Starmer [Labour leader] is attempting to end the dream of home ownership for thousands of families and young people with his political game-playing.”

The government previously claimed the rules are blocking the construction of up to 100,000 new homes by the end of the decade.

Housebuilders were in favour of the change, as Lawrence Turner, director of Boyer (part of Leaders Romans Group), expressed disappointment.

He said: “The House of Lords has halted the government’s much-anticipated strategy to amend the LURB; a move expected to expedite the housebuilding in England. Spearheaded by the Labour party, a collective dissent has been raised against the government’s motion to abolish the ‘nutrient neutrality’ laws.

“The development industry maintains that the implications of these laws on residential construction are unduly restrictive, given that new homes contribute less than 1% to the overall problem. Environmental groups have raised objections to the Bill, which, regrettably, seem to be misconceived and quickly capitalised upon by opposition parties.

“The rejection of the Bill translates into further stagnation of construction for over 100,000 homes. Most of these homes have already received planning consent and are supported by local communities, adding to the gravitas of the delay.”

Following the rejection by the Lords, the change cannot be reintroduced in the House of Commons as part of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill.