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Water neutrality in the Sussex North Water Resource Zone

On 14 September 2021, Natural England issued a Position Statement for planning applications within the Sussex North Water Resource Zone.


Learn more about water neutrality

Water neutrality is defined as "development that takes place which does not increase the rate of water abstraction for drinking water supplies above existing levels." In short, the amount of water taken from the environment for drinking should not increase due to a new development. You can find further details below.
A close-up of a child drinking water straight from an outdoor tap on a bright day

Natural England's statement

Information collected by Natural England shows that water abstraction for drinking water supplies may be having a negative impact on wildlife sites in the Arun Valley. 

Natural England has advised that any new development must show that it will not increase this impact. 

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How does this affect you?

The Position Statement affects developments within the Horsham District Council, Crawley Borough Council, part of Chichester District Council, parts of the South Downs National Park, and West Sussex County Council.

To see if your development site is within the Sussex North Water Resource Zone, please use West Sussex County Council's interactive map: Water Neutrality - West Sussex County Council.

We've produced a set of downloadable water neutrality boundary map extracts. There is one extract per Local Authority that will be impacted by water neutrality in Sussex North. The extracts are a subset of the water neutrality boundary map available from West Sussex County Council.

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Our plan

Our Water Resources Management Plan (WRMP) sets out how we'll maintain water supplies to customers and protect the environment in the future. We're delivering schemes in our current plan (covering the period from 2020–70) to provide additional drought resilience. We're also investigating whether some of our abstraction sites are having an impact on the environment.

In the Sussex North Water Resource Zone, while investigations are ongoing, Natural England has said that Local Planning Authorities must make sure that all new developments are water-neutral to reduce any further impact.

We're also continuing to promote Target 100, our industry-leading demand reduction programme, to reduce water demand by encouraging customers to save water.

Research and studies

Crawley Borough Council has commissioned a number of studies related to the issue of serious water stress and supply. These include:

  • Gatwick Sub Region Water Cycle (August 2020)
  • Addendum to Water Cycle Study (January 2021)
  • JBA Part A –Individual Local Authority Areas
  • JBA Part B – The Local Authorities across the Water Resource Zone in combination
  • JBA Part C - Mitigation Strategy

For the most up-to-date information on local authorities’ approach and links to the above studies, visit Crawley Borough Council’s website.

An aerial view of the Budds Farm Wastewater Treatment Works
An aerial view of the Budds Farm Wastewater Treatment Works next to Langstone Harbour

How to achieve water neutrality

Developers can achieve water neutrality by building significant water efficiency measures into new developments. They should also provide offsetting to reduce water use from existing developments.

It's the developer’s responsibility to show the Local Planning Authority (LPA) deliverable water neutrality for their site. Waterwise published a review of Water Neutrality in the UK (2021), which gives some guidance on how you can achieve water neutrality.

Get in touch

If you have any questions regarding Water Neutrality in the Sussex North region please get in touch.

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