Water Neutrality

10 April 2024

CampbellReith supports development projects that require the consideration of Water Neutrality (WN). Our Environmental team has provided a quick summary of what this means below:

  • Natural England have expressed concern that water abstraction within the Sussex North Water Supply Zone may be causing an adverse impact on the water levels within the Arun Valley SPA, SAC and Ramsar Site.
  • The Hardham groundwater abstraction site supplies water to the Sussex North Water Resource Zone (WRZ). This zone covers the majority of Crawley (excluding Gatwick Airport and Maidenbower), Horsham, part of the Chichester local authority area and part of the South Downs National Park.
  • Whilst long term solutions are sought to adequately maintain the existing water levels, Natural England have currently imposed the requirement that ‘For every new development, total water use in the Sussex North Water Supply Zone after the development must be equal to or less than the total water-use in the region before the new development’.
  • Where developments are proposed within the Sussex North Water Resource Zone that require mains water supply, they are required to prove beyond reasonable doubt that post-development they will not use more mains water supply compared to the pre-development levels. 
  • The evidence base to prove developments are water neutral includes the provision of water budget calculations. These compare the pre-development baseline demands on mains water supply with the post-development demand on water supply, alongside Water Neutrality Statements and Reports to Inform (the) Habitats Regulations Assessment which set out the issues and solutions to ensure that developments are water neutral.    
  • Mitigation measures may be required to ensure that the levels of nutrients produced post-development do not exceed those within the pre-development baseline. They could include reducing water consumption within developments through use of low water fittings and fixtures, use of rainwater harvesting or grey water recycling. They could also include off-setting a development’s mains water use by water savings in other existing off-site developments or land uses such as farms.

If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch with either Alan Poulton or Grant Plain.