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Nitrates Offsetting Site

Nitrates Offsetting Site

  • What is the mechanism?

    A current mechanism.

    Natural England has advised that new homes and tourism accommodation is likely to have a harmful effect on the nature conservation designations of the Solent, which are vulnerable to elevated nutrient (nitrate levels).

    Some of these nitrates come from wastewater outputs from people. Natural England has advised the new development (new homes and tourism accommodation) in the Solent catchment must result in no net increase in nitrates in the Solent i.e. “nitrate neutral”.

    It is often not possible for development achieve nitrate neutrality and so to address this issue development proposals purchase credits from sites to offset their nitrate output.

    Offsetting involves taking land out of agricultural use, i.e. no longer adding additional nitrates to the land at that location, to balance or ‘offset’ the increase in nitrates arising from housing or tourism accommodation development.

    The South Downs National Park Authority is now able to act as a broker for those seeking to offset nitrates through the purchase of ReNature Credits.

  • Site location

    In the Solent catchment areas of the South Downs National Park. This includes areas of Winchester, East Hampshire and Chichester District parts of the SDNP.

  • Site size

    No minimum or maximum site area.

  • Current land use

    Agricultural land.

  • Landscape considerations

    Any habitat created needs to be consistent with the landscape character in order to achieve the best outcomes for biodiversity.

    The management approach should also work with soil conditions and the underlying geology.

    The SDNPA has prepared guidance to summarise the different landscape character types, the actions that can be taken for nature or to be more nature friendly and the key sensitivities to consider in the area.

  • Management duration

    Minimum 125 years.

  • Management options

    There are four main options for the management of a nitrates offsetting site. The suitability of each options will particularly depend on the landscape and ecological context of the site:
    a. Woodland planting
    b. Conservation grassland
    c. Amenity/recreation site
    d. Wetland creation


"The Downs...too much for one pair of eyes, enough to float a whole population in happiness."