Cornwall Council has taken the first step in getting planning applications for the River Camel area moving again with the launch of a phosphate calculator.
Earlier this year the Council was notified by Natural England that the area was at risk from adverse effects due to excessive phosphates and that further development could exacerbate this unless mitigation measures were put in place.
The main source of phosphates is agriculture, with some coming via sewage from homes and other developments that generate waste water.
Cornwall Council is legally required to assess the potential impacts of projects and plans on internationally important sites, which include the River Camel Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
The Council was required to place a temporary pause on planning approvals for the area, which extends from between Camelford and Tintagel in the north to along the A30 from Bolventor to Bodmin, south of the A30 from Bodmin to Roche and to parts of St Breock Downs and between Wadebridge and Egloshayle in the west.
The pause has primarily impacted applications for additional residential units and some commercial development and infrastructure that supports agricultural intensification and anaerobic digesters, but it could also affect other schemes.
The Council has been working closely with Natural England, the Environment Agency and South West Water to find a solution as quickly as possible.
The phosphate calculator, which can be found here, is the first step. It allows applicants to calculate whether their development will be phosphate-neutral.
Until longer-term solutions are found the Council will only be able to approve applications that can show that they meet this requirement or can propose mitigation measures to the same effect.
Leader of the Council, Linda Taylor, said: “We have taken this very seriously and the calculator is the first step in resolving this situation, as it will help applicants understand the phosphate impact of what they are proposing and help them make it phosphate-neutral.”
The Council commissioned consultants Royal Haskoning, who have worked on similar issues in Somerset, to prepare the calculator.
While the calculator helps in the short term, the Council’s work on the issue will continue in order to understand the compensatory measures needed for different types of developments.
Applicants will need to commission their own professional advice to understand the results of the calculator and translate them into realistic solutions.
Story posted on October 26, 2021