Meeting documents

SWT Phosphates Planning Sub-Committee
Thursday, 21st July, 2022 10.00 am

Venue: The John Meikle Room - The Deane House. View directions

Contact: Tracey Meadows Email: 

Webcast: View the webcast

No. Item




Minutes of the previous meeting of the Subcommittee pdf icon PDF 31 KB


Declarations of interest

    To receive and note any declarations of disclosable pecuniary or prejudicial or personal interests or lobbying in respect of any matters included on the agenda for consideration at this meeting.


    (The personal interests of Councillors and Clerks of Somerset County Council, Town or Parish Councils and other Local Authorities will automatically be recorded in the minutes.)

    Additional documents:


    No further Declarations Of Interest were declared.


Creation of phosphate credits to offset development in the River Tone sub catchment. pdf icon PDF 1 MB

    Additional documents:


    The purpose of the report was to update members on the creation of P credits to offset development in the River Tone sub catchment area.


    During discussion of this item the following comments/queries were raised



    ·       Did the Council have any plans to retro fit any other Council owned buildings and whether this would feed into the unitary authority in due course;

    ·       Concerns that various proposed schemes on agricultural land with a 1-year lease agreement with farmers created a risk and not a lot of flexibility;

    ·       Concerns with the lack of liaison between the Rivers Authority and Somerset County Council;

    ·       Concerns that small developers were not taking up the ‘P’ credit scheme;

    ·       Concerns with the impact on the viability of Social Housing;

    ·       Concerns with the excess phosphates on land, and how they were to be removed;

    ·       Were we confident that all of the accountable authorities and service providers were using the same numbers and parameters in their algorithms;

    ·       Apprehensions with which forums were taking place to communicate and update the farming community as most were not on topic with the situation;

    ·       Concerns with the timing of delivery of the ‘p’ credits the scheduling of the 65.3 kilos, how much was going to be available and when;

    ·       Concerns that in terms of the nations capacity to provide many solutions to require land. Would agricultural food production still be sustainable?;

    ·       Information should be sent out to the public on phosphate free household products;

    ·       The government should have spent money years ago on filtering out phosphates from our waterways;

    ·       Would the cessation of peat harvesting on the Levels help the phosphate issue due to it being less permeable?;


    The Chair proposed and Councillor Blaker seconded a motion for the Phosphates Planning Sub Committee to:


    a. Note the number of P credits being generated through the interim

    measures. Based upon the contents of Appendix A and the supporting

    Habitats Regulation Assessment, (Appendix C), 65.3 P credits for the River Tone sub catchment are being generated at a total estimated

    cost to the Council of circa £3,54m;


    b. Agree the pricing of one P credit for the River Tone sub

    catchment area at £54,222 + VAT per kilogram of offset required

    per year;


    c. In line with the Council’s charging policy, to recharge the cost of

    P credits on a full cost recovery basis;


    d. Note that the principle the Council’s interim programme of phosphate

    mitigation measures has Natural England support (see Natural England

    letter dated 6 June 2022 enclosed as Appendix D);


    e. Note, continue with all further necessary preparations to enable the use

    of P credits to provide the required mitigation and support the

    determination of some planning applications held in abeyance for the

    River Tone sub catchment;


    f. Note, that the Local Planning Authority (LPA) will use the P Credit

    Allocation Procedure as agreed by this Phosphates Planning Sub

    Committee in February 2022;


    g. Agree that, where a developer has purchased P credits (or tenths

    of P credits), and the planning permission  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.


Proposed guidance for the determination of planning applications proposing the use of new Package Treatment Plants or the upgrading of existing Package Treatment Plants/Septic Tanks as phosphate mitigation. pdf icon PDF 1 MB

    Additional documents:


    The purpose of the report was to provide advice as to how Somerset West and Taunton Council would apply advice received by Natural England and Environmental agency in relation to the Package Treatment Plants or Septic Tanks as phosphate mitigation. The NE/EA advice received was to be jointly published by the Somerset Authorities in due course.


    This report set out how this guidance should be applied at a local level in

    Somerset West and Taunton (SWT) and relates to the determination of

    planning applications that propose to use Package Treatment Plants (PTPs)

    or Septic Tanks as phosphate mitigation.


    The report covered both the use of new PTPs as phosphate mitigation, as well as upgrades to existing poorly performing PTPs and septic tanks. It sets out when using this equipment as mitigation would be acceptable to SWT Council, as the Local Planning Authority (LPA), and what steps planning applicants are required to take to secure their proposed phosphate mitigation.


    During discussion of this report the following questions/comments were raised



    ·       Concerns with who would be monitoring existing septic tanks that discharge into the watercourse. This needed to be monitored in the long term with an up to date database;

    ·       Concerns with chemicals used in septic tanks getting into the watercourse;

    ·       Concerns with the impact on the rural community that used septic tanks and the increased cost on the rural community;

    ·       Concerns with slurry tanks and their capacity for run off into the watercourse if they overfill;

    ·       Concerns with the gasses released from slurry tanks;


    Councillor Coles proposed and Councillor Habgood seconded a motion for the

    Phosphates Planning Sub Committee to:


    a. Agree that the use of new PTPs and the upgrade of existing poorly

    performing PTPs and septic tanks as phosphate mitigation is acceptable in



    b. Agree that the use of biological systems in PTPs should be preferred over

    chemical dosing in PTPs which should only be used as a last resort.

    Applicants must demonstrate that they have considered the use of a

    biological system and should show that the use of a biological PTP would

    not be sufficient to meet their phosphate mitigation requirement for the

    development proposed, before the LPA will consider a chemical dosing

    PTP as a possible mitigation option;


    c. Delegate to the Assistant Director Strategic Place and Planning in

    consultation with the Chair of the Phosphates Planning Sub Committee,

    clarifications and amendments to processes which govern the long-term

    maintenance and management of PTPs/Septic Tanks. It is proposed that

    these are to be agreed on a case by case basis between the LPA and the



    The motion was carried.


Next steps

    Additional documents:


    Next steps – Lobbying of central government continued, focused on the     following key issues;



    ·       Natural based solutions only part of the solution-scale of land = a ‘Long Run Meadows’ (i.e. circa 26 ha) every other year.


    ·       Need Government intervention on national solutions and clarity around regulations.


    ·       Partnership working is critical – Natural England, Environment Agency, Wessex Water, Somerset Rivers Authority, and the development industry.




    The Sub-Committee raised concerns on how the resolution of the treatment of treatment plants/septic tanks be translated into action and fitted into the planning process. Specified that developers needed to prove that chemical treatment was the last resort, with no other alternative for removing phosphates.



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