To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what progress he has made in tackling nitrate neutrality in the Solent.
The Government has been working to understand the nitrogen pollution problems in the Solent, the impacts on housing delivery and the options for enabling growth whilst avoiding harm to important protected sites. In September, we announced £3.9 million of funding to pilot a nutrient trading process to secure nature-based solutions to nitrate pollution across the Solent area. We have also made a loan offer of up to £5.7 million to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust to deliver mitigation to unlock stalled planning applications.
We are aware of the challenges faced through nutrient pollution and are seeking to address the most common sources of polluting nutrients to water. Agriculture is now the most significant source of pollution in our rivers, lakes and seas. This Government is using a package of measures to combat this, including Catchment Sensitive Farming, regulation and incentives. We will use the flexibility achieved by leaving the EU to replace Common Agricultural Policy subsidies (CAP) with an Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme through the Agriculture Act 2020 which will pay farmers for taking action to reduce pollution and restore habitats which go beyond regulatory requirements.
This Government remains committed to bringing at least three quarters of our waters to as close as possible to their natural state as soon as is practicable. In support of this, a further legally binding target is being brought forward as part of the target setting processes set out in DEFRA’s Environment Bill. The Environment Bill will place a statutory requirement on water companies to produce drainage and sewerage management plans, and we will continue to press water companies to protect both people and the environment.