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Michael Gove ‘to reform water pollution rules to boost housebuilding’

Michael Gove is to announce a major rewriting of rules on waterway pollution and housing developments, according to reports.

The Guardian and The Sun reported that the Housing Secretary will on Tuesday rip up so-called “nutrient neutrality” rules, which have been criticised by developers and some Tory MPs for blocking much-needed housebuilding.

The rules are designed to ensure that a development or project does not dangerously increase nutrient levels in local wetlands and waterways in protected areas.

According to The Sun, Natural England rules on nutrient neutrality will become guidance with local officials able to either ignore or follow it.

The paper also said that property developers could be asked to help contribute to a “mitigation fund” to help tackle any pollution caused by building on greenfield and brownfield sites.

This major shift is likely to anger environmental campaigners.

The rules date to 2017 and were introduced when the UK was still part of the EU.

Tory MP Simon Clarke, a former senior minister in Liz Truss’s short-lived administration, has long called for reform in this area.

He said the move would be a “welcome victory for common sense”.