Farming News - Thousands of south west homes to be enabled by latest Nutrient Mitigation Scheme

Thousands of south west homes to be enabled by latest Nutrient Mitigation Scheme

Purchase has been made possible thanks to Natural England’s Nutrient Mitigation Scheme supported by £30 million of government funding


  • Thousands of new homes enabled in the Poole Harbour catchment with additional wider benefits for both nature and people 
  • Partnership to work with landowners and farmers to create benefits for wildlife across the landscape 

Thousands of new homes for development are to be enabled in Dorset thanks to the government backed Nutrient Mitigation Scheme, Natural England has announced today (Friday 10 May).

The scheme will enable around 3,700 new homes to be built in the catchment over the next few years whilst protecting water quality.


By securing nutrient mitigation at Lyscombe, the scheme will enable new homes to be built in the catchment whilst protecting numerous rare birds such as avocets, spoonbills and black-tailed godwits from additional pollution that affects their precious habitat within Poole Harbour.  

  Natural England will offer credits for sale to developers through its Nutrient Mitigation Scheme in the coming months.  

  Lyscombe Farm is strategically important for water quality and nature recovery. The source of the Little Piddle, a tributary of the River Piddle, rises at Lyscombe, presenting the opportunity to restore the river and valley bottom for wildlife, and reduce the amount of harmful nutrient pollution entering waterways and reaching Poole Harbour.  


Marian Spain, Chief Executive of Natural England, said:  

  “The purchase of Lyscombe is a significant step forward for nutrient mitigation and a boost for sustainable development. Providing nutrient credits through work at sites like these will ensure that we can keep building homes for the future, without harming our waterways.  

  “This demonstrates how nature recovery and sustainable development can be delivered hand in hand. It is impressive to think of all of the benefits that will be realised here, for nature and people, and how projects like this happen when we work in partnership and use a combination of tools and funds for the greatest outcome."  

  The purchase of 833 acres of chalk downland and farmland at Lyscombe Farm was made possible through Natural England's Nutrient Mitigation Scheme and Natural England’s National Nature Reserves funding, alongside donations from Dorset Wildlife Trust supporters.  

  The partnership between Natural England and Dorset Wildlife Trust at Lyscombe Farm will also provide space for significant nature recovery. The long-term ambition for Lyscombe is to create a wildlife rich, open-access National Nature Reserve, for people to enjoy.  


Brian Bleese, chief executive at Dorset Wildlife Trust said:  

  “The acquisition of Lyscombe is an excellent example of a blended finance initiative, bringing together statutory, charitable and private funding to deliver benefits for nature, people and sustainable development. Making space for nature and people is vital in addressing climate change and the ecological crises, projects like Lyscombe ensure that development also contributes to environmental improvements.”  


Further information

The Lyscombe site includes arable and grassland with 59ha Site of Special Scientific Interest chalk downland and 23ha Site of Nature Conservation Interest priority habitat, and a small area of woodland.  

  The land will play a key part in the effort to achieve landscape-scale nature recovery beyond Lyscombe. Natural regeneration and restoration techniques, such as extensive grazing blended with traditional conservation management and working collaboratively with neighbouring farmers and landowners will all contribute to the creation of a wider nature recovery network.  

   This site is also the focus of ambitions to create a new National Nature Reserve. The vision is a wildlife rich open access NNR embedded into the rural landscape of which over 14,000 acres is managed conscientiously by the Dorset Downs farm cluster.   

  The NNR will provide excellent opportunities for nature recovery by joining up priority habitats and linking protected sites and make space for species to spread across the adjacent restored farmland.   

  There are also plans to improve visitor access to this stunning landscape, particularly on existing footpaths and rights of way. This will ensure that the site can provide space for people to reconnect with nature and experience the wonders of this stunning landscape.