How does de-commissioning a dairy farm allow more house-building?
By Trevor Carbin
Planning applications in the River Test catchment in Wiltshire are required by law to be nitrogen neutral. Some planning applications have been held up for over 18 months because there was no viable way of achieving that.
Neutrality can be obtained by offsetting. Developers pay money to compensate for the pollution their buildings generate. The council takes the money and uses it to reduce nitrogen production elsewhere.
In this case a dairy farm at Roundbarrow, Pitton, will be taken out of intensive agricultural use and managed for conservation purposes. This creates nitrogen 'credits' that can be traded to counterbalance the nitrogen burdens from new development.
The price is set at £2,500 per 1kg. This equates to from £3,000 to £7,000 for each new house.
In this case there should also be environmental benefits to the local community.
The disbenefit though is the loss of another farm to food production, to be added to the land lost to house production.