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A consultation has been published on plans aimed at speeding up housing delivery, with new regulations on developer contributions to help fund roads, schools and infrastructure.

Developers are required to fund additional public infrastructure to support the building of new homes, with the Government's Community Infrastructure Levy collecting almost £1 billion since starting in 2010.

Launching the consultation, housing minister Kit Malthouse said "the billions of pounds already paid by the developers has been critical in delivering the more, better, faster homes this country so desperately needs, but we must go further".

"These reforms will make the system simpler, transparent and easy to understand and will accelerate the pace of homebuilding - it's now up to housebuilders and residents to tell us what they think".

The reforms will ensure that the infrastructure needs of communities are identified from the outset, saving time and allowing the provision of infrastructure to be costed into projects at an early stage. It also seeks to increase the types of project that can benefit from the Community Infrastructure Levy, ensuring that a wider range of community priorities are eligible to receive funding.

The Government plans to fund and deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.

A wider reform set out in the new National Planning Policy Framework adopted in July 2018 states that viability assessments are now integrated into the local plan process, giving communities upfront certainty on the infrastructure investment needed in their area when land is initially earmarked for new housing.

Figures show that between 2016/17 around £5 billion was successfully secured from developers to support local communities with new infrastructure and more affordable housing. Also, the Community Infrastructure Levy raised an additional £940 million for those areas that adopted it since 2010.

The consultation closes on 31 January 2019.

For more information on this subject, see:

A company has been fined £20,000 after polluting a stream during land spreading at a North East farm.

The Company based in South Witham, Lincolnshire pleaded guilty in December to breaching its environmental permit and polluting a tributary of the River Tees.

It was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs and a victim surcharge of £4,430.

The Environment Agency explained that the Company had an environmental permit for mobile plant spreading at Greystones Farm. The operation should comply with the 'Code of Good Agricultural Practice' which requires weather conditions be assessed before spreading takes place and the activity will be carried out without harm to the environment.

In March 2017 a member of the public reported that a stream close to the farm was running black. The farm manager confirmed with the Environment Agency that eight loads of digestate had been spread on the field the previous day and the field appeared to be waterlogged.

When it was confirmed that outfalls from the field was discharging a black coloured liquid into the watercourse, the Company arranged for a tanker to remove the pools of digestate and rainwater that had accumulated in the field.

Checks on the company's Environment Management System showed there was no condition to check the weather forecast prior to spreading taking place, and the field record sheet had been incorrectly filled out.

The Company said the incident had resulted from a systems failure and was not committed deliberately or recklessly, and that immediate action was taken to prevent further harm by removing further liquid from the field. The Company's Environment Management System has been reviewed and updated and staff properly trained.

The company apologised for the breach and resulting pollution.

The Environment Agency's Land and Water Team in the North East led the investigation, they commented on the case that "permits are in place to protect the environment and our communities while also supporting businesses in their activities".

"Run off from land into our waters has a significant negative effect on the environment. The Environment Agency works hard to protect our environment and I hope this sends out a message to others that we take incidents such as this seriously and will take the necessary action against those flouting the conditions of their permit".

A Glasgow based building contractor has been fined after an employee used a powered saw to cut through a kitchen cupboard door, accidentally releasing asbestos containing materials.

Glasgow Sheriff Court heard that in November the Contractor was carrying out refurbishment work at a flat in Glasgow. An employee who was unaware of the presence of asbestos fibres within a kitchen cupboard door cut through the door and disturbed the asbestos fibres.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that following receipt of an Asbestos Refurbishment Survey pertaining to the kitchen, the Contractor had failed to realise the door had not been surveyed.

The Contractor pleaded guilty in December for breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and has been fined £4000.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Graeme McMinn said "this incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices. When getting an asbestos survey carried out it is important to ensure that all of the planned work areas have been surveyed".

"Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards".

The Environment Agency has served a 'notice of liability' to fertiliser company Omex Agriculture Limited for a pollution incident that killed at least 100,000 fish in Lincolnshire.

The company responsible for a major pollution on the River Witham has been told they must develop plans to restore the river by the Environment Agency under the Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) Regulations SI 2015/810.

This is the second notice the Environment Agency has issued since those Regulations came into force and requires the company to develop plans for repairing the environmental damage caused when ammonia entered the river in March 2018.

Once the notice is served, the recipient has 28 days to lodge an appeal and the polluter has until mid-January to submit their proposals. The Environment Agency must be satisfied the plan represents the best results for the environment.

The ammonia affected the river from Bardney to Wash, severely impacting the condition of the river and its ecosystems. It is thought to be the worst river pollution incident ever recorded in the county.

Manfai Tang, environment manager at the Environment Agency said "we know the pollution had a devastating effect on delicate river ecosystems, and issuing this notice means the process of helping the river recover to its natural, healthy state can start sooner".

"It's one way we're working to protect and improve our environment for local people and wildlife. We look forward to receiving proposals from Omex for review, and working with them to restore the Witham".

After the incident, Environment Agency experts and biologists worked tirelessly with other organisations to clean up the pollution and mitigate the damage. Fisheries teams have since re-stocked the river with more than 1.5 million fish larvae, including common bream, roach and tench, plus re-introducing around 40,000 roach and common bream ranging from 30 to 40mm long.

Meanwhile, the Environment Agency is continuing to investigate the circumstances of the pollution, further action will considered once the investigation is complete.

For more information on this subject, see:

  • Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) Regulations SI 2015/810.

Thames Water has been fined £2 million after raw sewage polluted two Oxfordshire streams, killing almost 150 fish and flooding a nearby garden.

In December the Judge at Oxford Crown Court ruled the incident as a high end, category three harm offence.

Multiple failures in the management of a sewage pumping station operated by the Company led to sewage created by two villages emptying into two brooks leading to the River Evenlode, which leads into the River Thames, for up to 24 hours.

The Judge found Thames Water "reckless" in polluting Idbury and Littlestock brooks in August 2015.

Environment Agency officers discovered the entire local population of almost 150 bullhead fish had been killed by the toxic waste along a 50-metre stretch of water.

The Environment Agency received a public report of dead fish in Idbury brook, and a backlog of raw sewage was forced into the water from a sewer pipe that could not hold it. Sewage also escaped from a manhole and onto a residential front garden.

Court heard that Thames Water disregarded more than 800 high-priority alarms needing attention within four hours in the six weeks before the incident. Another 300 alarms were not properly investigated which would have pointed out failures with the pumping system. One alarm was deliberately deactivated.

The Environment Agency discovered that Thames Water were aware the pumping station failed several times in the 12 months up to and including the incident in August 2015. There had been repeated problems with the pumping station in the year before the pollution, which Thames Water failed to report to the Environment Agency.

The Environment Agency commented on this case, stating "this incident was foreseeable and avoidable. Thames Water didn't recognise the increased risk to the environment, ignoring or failing to respond adequately to more than 1,000 alarms".

"We hope this prosecution sends a loud and clear message that the Environment Agency will not accept poor operation, management and maintenance of sewage pumping stations. Where we have evidence of offending and serious pollution incidents like here, we will take appropriate action to bring polluters to justice".

Thames Water were ordered to pay full costs of £79,991.57. The company pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to two charges of breaching environmental law.

The Planning Inspectorate upheld a unilateral undertaking banning elderly residents from keeping pets as a part of the approval of the 50-home retirement village near Rochester, to protect the nearby site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The approved village comprises of a mix of 2/3 storey apartments and single storey bungalows with ancillary meeting room, gymnasium, office, parking and garaging in the southern edge of Cliffe Woods and beyond, making the development subject to countryside policy terms.

Among issues such as loss of agricultural land, drainage issues and crime prevention, Natural England and other stakeholders raised concerns that the scheme could lead to a localised increase in cat population which could adversely affect the ecosystem in the nearby Chattenden Woods and Lodge Hill SSSIs. Natural England's advice to the Planning Inspectorate was to implement a "no pets policy" which would ban future residents from keeping pets, with the exception of caged pets such as birds or fish.

The local council argued that such a ban could harm the well-being of the residents by increasing the feelings of social isolation, which was dismissed by the inspector David Troy, where he ruled that any harm caused by such ban would be offset by the health benefits of the on-site club house and gymnasium, as well as stating that the site is sustainably located, with a couple of general stores, a post office, doctor's surgery, pharmacy and a church hall within a walking distance from the village.

In the conclusion, Mr Troy found that the provision of the new retirement homes carried decisive weight in light of the demand for homes for elderly people in the area, the appeal is therefore allowed.

It was reported that the Cliffe and Cliffe Woods Parish Council are disappointed with the decision, but there are still details of the development to be agreed - it is unlikely that any construction could start until late 2019 - if detailed permission is granted.

Neither the appeal or the Planning Inspectorate's decision mentioned the keeping of dogs.

For more information, see the:


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