HEREFORDSHIRE Council could divert some of the millions of pounds it will be allocated from the new homes bonus to deal with pollution in the River Lugg.

Phosphate levels in the river catchment area are so high that the council has put a moratorium on new development in most of North Herefordshire while it finds a solution.

Councillors are concerned over the impact this will have on house building given that the Lugg catchment area spreads within the county from the Welsh border near Kington as far east as Bromyard and from the northern outskirts of Hereford to almost as far north as Orleton.

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Council leaders say the authority is expected to receive some £2.2m from central government in relation to the new homes bonus which is a grant paid to reflect and incentivise the construction of houses – and they could use this funding to develop measures to address the phosphate issue.

Conservative councillor Nigel Shaw said he was surprised not to see specific proposals to deal with the phosphate problem included in the Independent, It’s Our County and Green Party coalition budget proposals for 2020/21.

“The lack of development coming forward is now affecting family building companies in the region,” he said.

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“Certainly it will have an effect on the authority’s five year land supply and thence a knock on effect on any planning weight given to all Neighbourhood Development plans in the county.

“Such a moratorium on development is affecting business investment and may even impact our deadline for favourable conservation status, with an attendant fine on the authority.”

But council leaders say they are fully aware of the phosphate problem preventing development and are working to explore how best to over come the issue with other government agencies.

“Paragraphs 18 and 19 of the Budget report on the agenda for the committee highlights that the provisional local government funding settlement included funding of £2.2m in relation to new homes bonus,” a council spokesman said in response to coun Shaw.

“It is proposed in the report that this funding is treated as one-off funding and is earmarked to facilitate the delivery of houses in support of delivering the core strategy.

“If necessary, this would be available to assist in bringing forward appropriate measure to address the phosphate issues.”

The phosphate comes from fertilisers that are applied to agricultural land.