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Nutrient Neutrality Calculators LI

Ricardo supports Natural England to help ensure better health for our rivers and wildlife through updated nutrient neutrality calculators

28 Feb 2024


Updated nutrient neutrality calculators, which will help ensure better health for our rivers and wildlife are now live online, thanks to work by Ricardo experts in conjunction with Natural England.

In 2022, Ricardo worked with Natural England to provide advice and tools to support the assessment of nutrient mitigation measures which would help unlock development. The first calculators were issued in that year. There were two key aims of the calculators. First, helping local authorities and developers understand the impact of their developments on the environment. Secondly being able to identify what actions would need to be taken to result in no additional nutrient burden being added to the environment: namely, that all surface water runoff and wastewater generated by a development is less than or equal to the nutrients generated by the existing land use.

Since that time, in late 2023 the UK Government passed the Levelling-Up and Regeneration Act (LURA) within which nutrient standards requirements in water were identified as a need.  After much discussion across Government, the Act now requires sewerage undertakers to upgrade wastewater treatment works to meet tougher nutrient standards in affected catchments. This in turn has resulted in a list of specific waste water treatment works to be upgraded mainly by 2030 with the objective of making the identified treatment works more efficient at removing nutrient pollution before it reaches rivers and waterways. 

These changes together with other identified needed updates has meant that Ricardo has been working closely with Natural England to develop the second iteration of the calculators.

Consequently, as of 28 February 2024 the updated nutrient neutrality calculators are now live online When you open them you should notice that they are more user-friendly and accessible for all key users and for all organisations from private developers, landowners, local planning authorities and water companies.

What do the updates comprise?

The updates have been essential to account for a range of regulatory requirements and to make the calculators more accessible to all users. Within their development, Ricardo has:  

  • Accounted for the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act (LURA) technically achievable limits (TAL) permits for wastewater treatment works within the recently designated sensitive catchments  
  • Updated the calculators to have the functionality to input information about sustainable urban drainage systems (SuDS), in line with the incoming updates to Schedule 3 of the Flood Act  
  • Redesigned and reformulated the calculators to align with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.2 to ensure that they are accessible to all stakeholders   

What’s next? 

Ricardo, Defra and Natural England recognise there are likely to be small updates needed to these calculators over the coming months where, for example, there are changes related to the TAL permits.   Ricardo will be on hand (via Natural England) to make such changes.  

Need help?

If, you as a private developer or landowner,  a local planning authority, water company or indeed anyone who has any questions related to nutrient neutrality issues, legislative requirements or needs help understanding what type and size of mitigation might work and where, then contact the Ricardo team.    We would love to hear from you: info@ricardo.com 

Find out more about our nutrient neutrality expertise