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A Guide to Nutrient Neutrality

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What is Nutrient Neutrality?

Nutrient Neutrality is a requirement, normally levied at new developments, that restricts the  increase in the net amount of nutrients (Phosphates & Nitrogen) entering a specified eco-system.

For example in our local area there are several areas where Nutrient Neutrality is of particular concern, the River Avon, Solent and Poole Harbour. In fact we are seeing these types of restrictions across all developments in and around the New Forest. So if you are creating a new dwelling you need to be able to demonstrate how it will not increase the total amount of nutrients created in the area.

What causes Nutrients to increase?

Human biological waste, so poo and wee and other wastewater is the key driver of nutrient additions. There are some other elements that Natural England talk about but for domestic homes wastewater is the element to understand.

The amount of theoretical nutrient additions are based on the assessed population of the new house or development. The population is calculated in the same way as you would size a septic tank, please see our guide. A 4-bedroom house would be assessed to have a population of 6.

Once you have worked out the population you need to calculate the volume of wastewater used. Generally, for someone living in a domestic property, this is 150L per person as stipulated in British Water Guidelines. Unhelpfully, as standard, Natural England says both these elements can be challenged if for example, you can demonstrate that the property will contain devices that are accredited to reduce water usage. As with all things expect no help or useful advice from Natural England, the EA, or Planning, they really don’t have a clue.

So in summary the cause of nutrient additions is the number of people the house is designed to support multiplied by the volume of average wastewater produced daily.

How do you calculate the amount of nutrients your development will create?

The formula for calculating the increase in nutrients your development will cause/create is as follows. Population (Pe) x Waster Water Produced (Litres) x Nutrients (N) per litre post treatment. The first two are simple to calculate. The third element is more complicated. If you are going operate an off grid system then it will have to realistically be a Sewage Treatment Plant (STP). Each STP has a certified post treatment effluent quality certificate, the figures can just be lifted from this. If you are going to the mains then the figure relates to the output quality post treatment by the sewage provider. You will need to contact the relevant sewage provider to get this made up number, because lets be honest they just pump most of it into the sea or rivers untreated anyway.

Because of the incompetent way this whole process has been managed the government have tried to cover Natural England’s monumental disaster by legislating/forcing the water companies to improve their processing capabilities thereby reducing the nutrient output per litre of water. In the real world we call this kicking the can down the road.

How do you offset the total amount of nutrients your development is creating?

At the point of writing this article, the following are the main options open to you to offset the nutrients you will create

  • Purchase some nutrient offset credits:  Look for nutrient offset programs or initiatives in your region that offer nutrient credit purchases. These programs are typically managed by environmental organizations, government agencies, or conservation groups. Research their websites, contact relevant authorities, or seek recommendations from local environmental agencies.
  • Nutrient Management Plan: Develop a nutrient management plan that assesses the existing nutrient levels in the soil and nearby water bodies,
    and identifies potential sources of nutrient runoff or leaching from your development. The plan should include strategies to minimize nutrient loss and
    manage their distribution.
  • Stormwater Management: Implement effective stormwater management practices to prevent excess nutrients from entering nearby water
    bodies. This may involve installing sedimentation ponds, vegetated buffer zones, or rain gardens to capture and filter runoff, reducing nutrient contamination.
  • Vegetation and Landscaping: Incorporate native plants, grasses, and trees in your development’s landscaping. Native species are often
    better adapted to local soil and climate conditions, requiring fewer fertilizers and pesticides. They can also help absorb excess nutrients and
    prevent runoff.
  • Nutrient Recycling: Implement measures to recycle and reuse organic waste generated during construction or from the housing development
    itself. Composting and utilizing organic waste as a natural fertilizer can reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers and nutrient inputs.
  • Community Education: Educate residents of the housing development about responsible nutrient management practices, including proper
    fertilizer use, avoiding excessive irrigation, and disposing of waste responsibly. This can help minimize individual contributions to nutrient
  • Look for nutrient offset projects offsite: For example, you could offer to pay for the replacement of someone’s Septic Tank
    with a Sewage Treatment Plant. We can facilitate this type of request if needed.

Remember, local regulations and environmental guidelines may vary, so it’s essential to ensure compliance with relevant laws and seek necessary permits. Engaging with local environmental agencies or organizations can also provide valuable insights and resources for offsetting nutrient impacts in your specific region.

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Expert wastewater treatment engineers who specialise in Septic Tank and Soakaway replacements as well as Sewage Treatment Installations. We are based in the New Forest, Hampshire but operate across the South Coast as well as Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon, Sussex, Surrey, Oxfordshire, and Berkshire.

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Based in the New Forest, Hampshire on the border with Dorset and Wiltshire we operate an expert team of off-mains drainage specialists. This encompasses Septic Tank, Soakaway and drainage system problems, installations, blockages, and servicing. In addition, any issues relating to cesspits and sewage treatment plants.

Homeseptic offers high quality, professional advice, repairs and installation for all aspects of effluent cleansing and disposal across the south of England. Whether you’re looking for septic tank installation, sewerage treatment plants or systems, piping or soakaway solutions, Homeseptic employs only the most competent engineers in the drainage and treatment industry and knows exactly which solutions suit each property.

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As we have said Homeseptic is based in the New Forest. A great location in between the cities of Southampton, Salisbury and Bournemouth. We are a group of good friends who grew up together in the area.  Individually we all have grown tired of the way other Drainage firms are run. As a result, this is why we set up Homeseptic. If you want to know more please check out our About Page

We want to actually put the customer first and turn up to do a great job that we can be proud of. Unfortunately, this is not the case in the market, with most companies pressuring their workers to sell unnecessary works on a visit. Due to this, we offer upfront quotations with any variations discussed before we start work.

We are honest hard working professionals, which we hope you will agree with. As a result, it will certainly not turn up in flash sales vehicles and give you a load of chat and then do a terrible job. Our team will come with the job in mind and the aim of giving you the best value we can in order to facilitate a quality installation. 

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Nutrient Neutrality
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Nutrient Neutrality
A Guide to Nutrient Neutrality
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