Press release

Teesside first area to benefit from new scheme to unlock development and drive nature recovery

Developers in the River Tees area will be first to be apply for credits to unlock new housing

This was published under the 2022 to 2024 Sunak Conservative government
Lush green plants grow along a flowing river

Polluting nitrate and phosphate nutrients can cause serious damage to waterways and wetlands.

Efforts to reduce nutrient pollution in our waterways and unlock housebuilding have been stepped up today with the launch of Natural England’s Nutrient Mitigation Scheme.

Opening today (31st March), developers in the Tees and Cleveland Coast catchment will be able to apply for credits to offset the small impact of development and create new wildlife habitats, such as wetlands. Natural England has already invested in land which will provide the first credits in the Tees catchment to unlock up to 1,600 homes this year.

Polluting nitrate and phosphate nutrients come from a wide range of sources including sewage treatment works, septic tanks, livestock, arable farming and industrial processes and causes serious damage to waterways and wetlands, affecting the quality of life for people who live nearby.

Extra wastewater from residents in new housing developments can put additional pressures on these waterbodies, particularly ones that are already in a fragile or failing condition, but when development is designed alongside suitable mitigation measures, that additional damage caused by new residents can be avoided.

Marian Spain, Chief Executive of Natural England, said:

Our wetlands and estuaries provide huge benefits to people as places for recreation and to enjoy wildlife. But these precious places are being seriously damaged by pollution.

If we are to see nature recovery in action, we must first protect these internationally renowned places. Our new mitigation scheme will help improve our natural environment and allow the houses we need to be built.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said:

Nutrient pollution can harm wildlife in our waterways and poses a real threat to our protected sites for nature.

This scheme will facilitate the delivery of hundreds of new homes in the Tees area and more across the country - and promote access to green space, and make a major contribution to nature recovery.

The Nutrient Mitigation Scheme, first announced in July 2022, is led by Natural England in partnership with Defra and DHLUC. The scheme is being supported by up to £30 million investment from the government to speed up delivery. With the Teesside scheme now live, work is continuing to identify the next sites suitable for mitigation projects with efforts focussed on areas with the highest housing needs. This will unlock development of new housing in other parts of the country and help to drive nature recovery in areas where there are high levels of nitrate and phosphate pollution.

In the Spring Budget 2023, the government announced it will soon publish a call for evidence from affected local authorities on local mitigation project opportunities. The government remains committed to providing investment to accelerate the delivery of high-quality credit schemes when they are presented.

Further information:

  • Credits will be applied for in rounds. The next two rounds are due to open in July and October 2023, followed by a further opening in 2024.
  • Credit prices are determined by calculating the cost of delivering the mitigation solution, in addition to ongoing monitoring and maintenance. In the Tees catchment, where land is being purchased or leased to facilitate the delivery of permanent credits, the cost for one nitrogen credit in the first round has been set at £1,825.
  • Guidance on how to apply for credits and an application form can be found on
  • The Nutrient Mitigation Scheme will work in combination with existing projects already in place or under development including nutrient credit trading schemes, LPA-led mitigation schemes and onsite mitigation solutions integrated into the design of housing developments.
  • Work is underway to identify the next sites suitable for mitigation projects including in The Broads, River Wensum and Stodmarsh catchments.  Work is focussed on areas with the highest housing needs. Announcement of the next credit rounds will be published on GOV.UK in due course.
  • Government has recently published guidance on how mitigation providers can combine environmental payments from biodiversity net gain (BNG) and nutrient mitigation, allowing them to receive multiple payments for actions that protect the environment.

Updates to this page

Published 31 March 2023