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Apply for Planning Permission - Phosphates and the Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar Site

This page aims to provide you with more specific information on how to apply for planning permission for development that is affected by phosphates and the Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar Site.

For all other applications please see our general page: Apply for Planning Permission. General information on Phosphates and the Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar site can be found on our website here: Phosphates on the Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar Site  

How do I work out if a proposal is likely to affect the Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar Site? 

First of all you need to check if the site is in the Water Catchment Area of the Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar site.   

An overview map of the areas in Mendip subject to phosphate mitigation requirements can be found Icon for pdf here [306.66KB].

The requirements will vary depending on whether you need to mitigate for foul water, surface water or both sources. The shaded area shows the surface water area of risk together with specific  Water Recycling Centre catchments where  either  (a) sewage treatment impacts on the RAMSAR but there is no mitigation for surface water or (b) the sewage treatment does not impact on the RAMSAR but there remains a need for surface water mitigation.

Surface and Water Recycling catchments can be viewed in  detail on Mendip Maps.

Go to 'Environment and Planning' in the drop-down list of map categories and select  'Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar Risk Area' and both   
'Indicative WRC linked to RAMSAR' and 'Indicative non-RAMSAR WRC'.  

Then you need to check if the type of development is affected which includes: 

  • New residential units - including tourist accommodation, gypsy sites /pitches 
  • Commercial developments - where overnight accommodation is provided 
  • Agricultural Development - additional barns, slurry stores etc. where it is likely to lead to an increase in herd size 
  • Anaerobic Digesters 
  • Possibly some tourism attractions 

Then you need to check if the application type is affected which includes: 

  • Full planning permission 
  • Listed Building Consent 
  • Outline permission 
  • Reserved Matters 
  • Variation of Conditions (Section 73)  
  • Listed Building Consent 
  • Discharge of Conditions 

If you have answered yes to all the above then your proposal is likely to affect the Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar Site and you will need to consider the following before you apply: 

What do I need to submit with my application? 

In addition to all the other documents to be submitted in support of your application, you will also need to put together a Nutrient Neutrality Assessment and Mitigation Statement (NNAMS) which, as of 1 November 2021, is a validation requirement for affected applications and development types within the water catchment area of the Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar site.   

The NNAMS is a comprehensive document and its contents vary depending on the development proposed as well as the type of application you are submitting.  In order to help you move forward and understand what the NNAMS should include, some guidance is provided in the attached documents and website page: 

The Stodmarsh Guidance referred to can also be found here: 

Package Treatment Plants

If you are proposing a development with a package treatment plant you should follow the guidance within this document:

Icon for pdf Package Treatment Plants [315.24KB]

Phosphate Budget Calculator

Somerset LPA's have developed a Phosphate budget calculator based on the Stodmarsh guidance, which includes figures for Phosphorous kg per hectare for different land use types within Somerset, pre-development. The calculator can be found here: Phosphates on the Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar Site 

You can use the calculator to understand how much mitigation the development will require and then consider what your options are for mitigation.  

Discharging Pre-commencement Conditions 

Mendip District Council, following legal advice, is of the view that 'pre-commencement' conditions relating to affected developments within the catchment area, cannot be discharged until it has been confirmed that either:  

a) an Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) is not required for the development; or  

b) the development would not have a likely significant effect and sufficient information to demonstrate this has been provided and found to be acceptable; or  

c) an HRA is required and sufficient information to demonstrate that the development would not adversely affect the integrity of the European site has been provided and the HRA has been submitted and found to be acceptable.  

Furthermore, in line with the legal advice, ALL pre-commencement conditions will be considered using this approach and not just those potentially directly relating to phosphate discharge ie surface water drainage or foul sewage.  

Detailed information in relation to the discharge of pre-commencement conditions can be found in the following document: 

Icon for pdf Discharge of Condition guidance [117.7KB] 

It is strongly recommended that you consider the guidance contained within before submitting an application to discharge pre-commencement conditions. 

How we will deal with your application: 

The Council is committed to development only taking place if it is sustainable development that includes relevant environmental protections - we will follow Natural England's advice and the precautionary approach. 

The flow chart provided below provides some information on how your application will be dealt with: 

Icon for pdf Process for applications affected by the Phosphates issue [187.7KB]