Page updated 13 April 2022

This web page is being updated and reviewed regularly.

Alongside all other local planning authorities in Norfolk, the Council has received a letter dated 16 March 2022 from Natural England about nutrient pollution in the protected habitats of the River Wensum Special Area of Conservation and the Broads Special Area of Conservation and Ramsar site. 

The letter advised that new development within the catchment of these habitats comprising overnight accommodation can cause adverse impacts to nutrient pollution. Such development includes, but is not limited to:

  • new homes 
  • student accommodation 
  • care homes
  • tourism attractions
  • tourist accommodation


  • permitted development (which gives rise to new overnight accommodation) under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015
  • any development not involving overnight accommodation, but which may have non-sewerage water quality implications

The Conservation of Species and Habitats Regulations 2017 require local planning authorities to ensure that new development does not cause adverse impacts to the integrity of protected habitats. Such as the River Wensum or the Broads before granting planning permission. There are no identified mitigation solutions available locally to resolve these impacts. 

Whilst the Council assesses the implications of these matters, it cannot lawfully conclude that development within the catchment of the River Wensum or the Broads Special Area of Conservation and Ramsar site will not have an adverse effect. Therefore, until these matters are resolved, the Council will not be able to grant planning permission for developments comprising overnight accommodation within the affected catchments.

The Council will work closely with its neighbouring authorities and Natural England to better understand the implications. And identify possible options for mitigation to ensure sustainable development can proceed. Unfortunately, it is not possible to state how long this may take to resolve. However, the Council will keep this web page updated with more information as it becomes available.

Nutrient Budget Calculators

Whilst mitigation solutions to address nutrient enrichment for the catchment of the River Wensum SAC and The Broads SAC are likely some way from being established, applicants with live applications already submitted or prospective applicants and agents wishing to consider the submission of proposals within the catchment in the future can now use the Nutrient Budget Calculator provided by Natural England. 

This calculator is the first step to understanding the nutrient load of a development. It can help identify whether a proposal is likely to add to the nutrient load within the catchment and require mitigation or whether the development can be considered nutrient neutral.

In the latter case, where development is nutrient neutral, subject to confirmation from Natural England, such developments can likely be approved without mitigation. 

For those with live planning cases, your case officer will be in contact to discuss this with you further.

The Broads Catchment Calculator

Whilst North Norfolk is affected by two catchments, these directly overlap one another. The Council have been informed that The Broads Catchment Calculator should be used.

Natural England has also provided a guidance document to help with the completion of the calculator.

Related documents

Letter from Natural England: Water Quality and Nutrient Neutrality Advice

Catchment area maps for Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)