Vail Williams partner David Ramsey has spoken out over the Labour objection to the Government plans to ease nutrient neutrality rules which would enable more homes to be built.

Mr Ramsey, who is head of planning, said Vail Williams had been pleased by the initial proposal by Michael Gove, because it would permit more residential development.

But he said: “The late objection from Labour, for me, goes against Sir Keir Starmer’s previous standpoint whereby he wanted to increase the supply of housing and was critical of the Conservatives for reducing the supply when need is high.

“This continued delay in the granting of planning permission to increase the supply of housing and speculation could go on until the next election – and possibly thereafter – with both sides trying to make political capital.

“As planners, we work with housebuilders therefore we want to promote the supply of housing, but we want to do it in an environmentally conscious way. Therefore, I understand the perceived impact on the environment which could come from housebuilding.

“We should, of course, mitigate any impacts that happen as a result of housebuilding, however, it has been long noted that the amount of nitrates in the water from new houses is a small percentage of the total.

“There are 28 million houses in the UK – if we build 200,000 a year that’s less than one per cent of the total stock and, as we can only mitigate for proposed housing not existing, new housing therefore amounts to only one per cent of the nitrates problem.

“Yes, we need to mitigate, but the actual impact is minimal and stopping housebuilding is probably not the answer.

“Notwithstanding the funds provided to water companies by housebuilders in the last year, how this is funded going forward is open to debate, but ultimately it will either come down to a planning contribution and/or increase in household bills.

“Labour is making political capital. We don’t know what the Conservatives’ plan B is and we don’t know about Labour’s alternative. What we do know is that there is more delay and kicking around this political football might well last until the next general election.”

© Thames Tap (powered by

Sign up to receive our weekly free journal, The Forum here.