Local Development Plan Update - November 2021
Phosphate Levels in River Teifi Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Following new evidence from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee about the damaging effects of phosphates to water ecosystems and species, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) conducted an assessment of the 9 riverine SACs in Wales (including the river Teifi in Ceredigion) and in January 2021, published the results. Over 60% of the waterbodies in Wales failed the targets including the river Teifi. NRW produced an interim planning position statement advising that any proposals for development within SAC river catchments - in particular those that will generate increased volume or concentration of wastewater - must now prove that the design will not contribute to increased phosphate levels, this statement was updated in May 2021.
What does this mean for the Replacement Local Development Plan (LDP2) in Ceredigion?
The river Teifi flows through large areas of Ceredigion (its river catchment area includes 44.6% of Ceredigion and includes Tregaron, Lampeter and Llandysul) and the new guidance would significantly impact how these communities would develop during the next LDP period 2018-2033.
The replacement LDP has been on pause due to COVID-19 since April 2020 on the advice of Welsh Government, it was anticipated until the release of the above statement that work would resume on LDP2. However, having evaluated the impact of the NRW planning statement on LDP2, there is significant risk of the plan being considered ‘unsound’ through the public examination process and not fit for purpose, due to the phosphate issue being unaddressed. This is because at present further work is required on phosphates, potential mitigations and general nutrient management thus LDP2 would not be able to demonstrate that the proposed development in the river Teifi catchment area is phosphate neutral. An alternative option was to exclude the river Teifi catchment area from LDP2’s Spatial strategy thus excluding the areas affected by phosphates, however this would not meet the needs of a significant proportion of Ceredigion’s population. In addition, LDP2 will have to be in general conformity with Future Wales The National Plan 2040 and Planning Policy Wales (PPW 11), which identifies the Teifi Valley as a regional growth area and requires planning authorities to focus development in the most sustainable locations thus excluding the affected area would not be in accordance with national policy.
Therefore at a Full Council held virtually on 21 October 2021, Ceredigion County Councillors agreed a pragmatic decision needed to be reached and agreed to a temporary but as yet unspecified length pause for the replacement LDP to allow essential evidence and data to be gathered and mitigation options to be devised. In the meantime Ceredigion County Council is working with Natural Resources Wales, Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water, Welsh Government and neighbouring Local Authorities to find both national and local solutions to the issue.
Although the current LDPs plan period ends in 2022, it will continue to be the Development Plan for Ceredigion until a Replacement Plan is adopted.
Finally the Policy team is still available for policy advice and consultations as usual and can be contacted via the main firstname.lastname@example.org email or the policy phone number 01545 572125 or individual team member email and phone numbers.
Local Development Plans should set out a vision for how places are expected to change in land-use terms to accommodate development needs over the plan period. This provides certainty for developers and the public about the type of development that will be permitted at a particular location. LDPs contain locally specific policies to explain or develop national policy further and to take forward local priorities for action. Evidence is needed to support LDP policies which is tested through the Examination procedure.
LDPs should have regard to the relevant local well-being plans and area statements which have been produced for the area. LDPs must be in general conformity with the National Development Framework (NDF) and Strategic Development Plan (SDP) (once these are in place).
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