A new scheme which would allow developers to build 1,600 new homes in the North East has been launched today (March 31).

As part of Natural England's (NE) Nutrient Mitigation Scheme, the body have said developers in the Tees and Cleveland Coast catchment will be able to apply for credits to offset the impact of development and create new wildlife habitats.

NE have said these plans will ensure wetlands are protected from nitrate and phosphate pollution, and allow for sustainable development.

The body has already invested in the land and said this scheme will free up 1,600 homes to be built in Teesside.

Read more: Darlington homes cannot be built due to River Tees pollution

Speaking on the plans, 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.” 

Meanwhile, the body said the pollutants come from a range of sources, including sewage treatment works, septic tanks, livestock, arable farming and industrial processes.

Read more: Biker died of brain injury after crashing into car near Lanchester

They said this type of pollution causes significant damage to waterways and wetlands , impacting the quality of life for residents.

Adding to this, they said extra wastewater from new housing developments contributes to this, and can have an adverse effect on those in a "fragile" or "failing" condition.

They added that this scheme allows development works inside "suitable mitigation measures," and additional damage caused by new residents can be avoided as a result.

Speaking on the damage nutrient pollution can cause wildlife, 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 was first announced in July 2022 and is led by Natural England in partnership with Defra and DHLUC.

The scheme is backed up by a £30 million investment from the Government, with the Teesside scheme now live.

Read next:

Get more from The Northern Echo with a Premium Plus digital subscription from as little as only £1.50 a week. Click here.

The next two rounds of the project are set to open in July and October this year, followed by a further opening in 2024.

It aims to identify new sites which are suitable for these projects, and will focus on areas which have the "highest housing needs."

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.