Cautious optimism from ACE and EIC over drive to "unblock" 100,000 homes

The Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) and the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) say we must not lose sight of our duty to protect the environment, after the Government announced a plan to “unblock” the development of 100,000 homes.

The Government said the development of more than 100,000 homes had previously been held up due to EU laws – and promised to press ahead with the development of these by 2030 – something it said would provide an estimated £18bn boost to the economy.

Legacy ‘nutrient neutrality’ rules from the EU, were aimed at protecting rivers from pollutants, but the Government stated the contribution made by new homes to this problem was “very small”.

Now, following an amendment in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, the Government is “doing away with this red tape” allowing for the delivery of more than 100,000 new homes.

The Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) and the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) has welcomed this change.

The organisations’ members will have a crucial role to play in developing new homes and communities in a sustainable and environmentally-friendly way. 

Both ACE and EIC say that while the move is a “positive step for our economy” we must not lose sight of our duty to protect and preserve the environment.

Stephen Marcos Jones, chief executive of both ACE and EIC, said: “Any potential construction boom which follows the announcement on nutrient neutrality will result in our ACE members’ expertise being required in various stages of the construction process, from initial planning and design through to project management and implementation.

“We are particularly pleased that efforts to mitigate the potential impact on the environment, such as the investment in the Nutrient Mitigation Scheme and the commitment to address pollution at its source, will also create opportunities for our EIC members, who could play an instrumental role in implementing the various environmental measures outlined in the Government's plan.

“EIC members specialising in pollution prevention, wastewater treatment, and sustainable solutions could find increased opportunities for collaboration with both the Government and the private sector as part of the Government’s plans.” 

The Government has also committed to reducing nutrient runoff from agriculture and upgrading wastewater treatment works, something which will necessitate innovative approaches and technologies. 

“As a result, companies capable of offering cutting-edge solutions in these areas, such as our EIC members, may experience stronger demand for their services,” Jones said.

ACE members will also play an important role in ensuring construction projects adhere to the new environmental measures. 

They may also be required devise innovative solutions that strike a balance between housing needs and environmental sustainability.

Jones said: “Amid the positive responses to the potential impact on construction, we must not lose sight of our duty to protect and conserve the environment. 

“The commitment to environmental protections, as evidenced by the expansion of the Nutrient Mitigation Scheme, the reduction of pollution, and the restoration of habitats, reinforces the message that responsible development is non-negotiable. 

“The emphasis on nature-based solutions presents new avenues for growth in environmental services and EIC companies that can provide expertise in these areas will be essential partners in implementing strategies that reduce pollution and restore habitats.”

As a result of the plans, ACE members will find themselves collaborating even more closely with local authorities, environmental agencies, and private sector stakeholders. 

This collaboration will be important in devising catchment-specific strategies to combat nutrient pollution and promote long-term health and resilience of river systems. 

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