Legal challenge over plans to ease sewerage laws for UK housebuilders | Water



The UK government is facing a legal challenge over plans to allow UK housebuilders to pollute sewage “through the back door”.

Campaign group Wild Justice and law firm Leigh Day have submitted plans for a judicial review into what they call an “unlawful attempt to use the guidance to introduce reforms that were rejected in the House of Lords last year”. did.

Currently, in sensitive areas such as the Lake District and Norfolk Lakes District, house builders can make extra savings by upgrading infrastructure or by purchasing biodiversity credits that improve local natural areas and prevent excess pollution. It is necessary to prevent sewage from entering waterways. This regulation was first enacted by the European Union to prevent the harmful buildup of algae and other plants that can suffocate aquatic life.

Last year, Equalization Secretary Michael Gove proposed amendments to the Equalization and Regeneration Bill that breached the provisions of the Act. This would have allowed developers to ignore the rules.

The bill was rejected twice in the House of Lords after Labor made clear its opposition to the “reckless” plans.

The bill ultimately passed, but the amendments did not. Now, the government is being accused of trying to stealthily take back the situation by issuing a new notification. The notice states that from April 1, 2030, planning authorities must presume that water companies have updated their wastewater infrastructure to improve pollution, even if this has not actually been the case.

While the notice requires water companies to make these improvements, Mr Wilde Justice and Mr Leigh Day say there is no mechanism to check this, so home builders continue to keep pollutants in water bodies after the deadline. They argue that there is a possibility that there will continue to be an oversupply of

Ricardo Gama, Leigh Day’s lawyer, said: “Following huge protests from environmental groups and a defeat in the House of Lords last year, our client has been forced to accept the government’s decision to comply with the Internationally Important Habitats Act. “We thought that we had wisely renounced the removal of this protection.” The latest notification appears to be trying to accomplish the same thing through the back door. ”

The previous amendments also sought to circumvent EU rules by requiring planning authorities to assume there would be no sewage pollution impacts from new developments.

Steve Reid MP, shadow environment secretary, said: “The Conservative government created a housing crisis and made it worse by scrapping housebuilding targets. To cover up that failure, they are using an already toxic They are hatching plans that risk irreparable damage to rivers flooded with sewage.

“Labour is committed to building the homes Britain desperately needs, while protecting our natural environment. We will accelerate our plans to deliver 1.5m homes by the next parliament, while protecting our rivers from pollution. We will continue to build.”

A government spokesperson said: “Amendments to the Leveling Up and Regeneration Act will designate areas where water companies will be required to step up sewage treatment works to reduce nutrient pollution in waterways by April 2030. It will become so.”

“These upgrades reduce sources of pollution and provide environmental benefits, while also helping to free up much-needed housing for communities by reducing mitigation burdens on development. The water company will be responsible for making corrections.”

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