Horsham District is situated in an area of serious water stress, as identified by the Environment Agency Water Stressed Areas Classification.
Horsham District is supplied with water by Southern Water from its Sussex North Water Resource Zone. This supply is sourced from abstraction points in the Arun Valley, which includes locations such as Amberley Wild Brooks Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Pulborough Brooks SSSI and Arun Valley Special Protection Area/Special Area of Conservation and Ramsar site.
On 14 September 2021, the Council received a Position Statement from Natural England. Information collected by Natural England shows that water abstraction for drinking water supplies is having a negative impact on the wildlife sites in the Arun Valley. They have advised that any new development that takes place must not add to this negative impact.
The Position Statement also affects Crawley Borough Council, part of Chichester District Council, parts of the South Downs National Park and West Sussex County Council. We therefore are working closely with these authorities, Southern Water and Natural England on this topic.
One way of preventing any further negative impact is to ensure that all new development which takes place is water neutral.
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.
Water Neutrality has impacts for the Local Plan, Neighbourhood Plans and Development Management.
Use the links below to access the position statement and our response, and frequently asked questions (FAQs) on how water neutrality affects planning applications and planning policy.
Position statement and response
Sussex North Water Resource Zone
An interactive map, depicting the Sussex North Water Resource Zone, is available to view on the West Sussex County Council website via this link: Water Neutrality Map