Polluted rivers obstruct construction of over 7% of new homes

High pollution levels are blocking the planned construction of more than 7% of new homes, according to analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA).

House building is also banned in other areas due to low water levels, leading LGA to call for more to be done to protect British rivers and wildlife habitats.

However, the organisation said limiting new developments would not be enough on its own to improve the environment, as most of the pollution is coming from agriculture and water companies.

river in the middle of rocks

Cllr David Renard, environment spokesperson for the LGA said: ‘Councils want safe, clean, thriving natural environments alongside the sustainable development of housing, growth and jobs.

‘It is concerning and frustrating that pollution levels in some rivers have reached a point to trigger bans on building around 20,000 new homes each year, over seven per cent of all England’s likely new house building.

‘Councils are working tirelessly to enable house building while upholding high environmental standards. However, they cannot achieve this alone. We need to reduce pollution at source, which predominantly originates from water treatment and farming.

‘The Government and its agencies, house builders, the agricultural sector and water companies must all come together with councils to find short-term solutions while doing everything we can to reduce pollution at source.’

The Habitats Directive Law, established by the EU, commits nations to protect species and maintain biodiversity, meaning pollution in rivers must be kept at minimal levels.

Analysis by LGS reveals that 23 councils have more than 90% of house building areas impacted by the law, while 40 councils have a quarter impacted and a third of the North East is affected too.

Construction cannot begin unless developers and councils can prove they will not produce any additional pollution in already heavily contaminated areas.

The problem is complex and will require long-term intervention, meaning up to 100,000 new homes could be prevented from being built if action isn’t taken soon.

Building bans are already challenging councils by halting growth and infrastructure, causing job losses and hitting council finances.

In related news, homeowners in UK coastal areas are not aware they have responsibility for their own flood risk management and have taken little steps to put in flood defences, according to research by the British Sociological Association.

Photo by Benjamin Elliott


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