Plantwork Systems Provides Nutrient Neutrality Solution for Housing Developers

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Robert White

17th November 2023

Following the Government’s attempt to block Nutrient Neutrality requirements for housing development, PWS enables developers to unlock land for development with our unique expertise and process solutions for wastewater treatment.

Phosphorus and Nitrogen pollution is a serious problem for UK waterbodies and is increasingly being targeted by the Environment Agency and Natural England, with strict Nutrient Neutrality standards being enforced for housing development within at least 74 local planning authorities.

This Summer, the Government tried – and has now failed – to remove some of the obstacles; to allow more housing development. The proposal was rejected in the House of Lords on 13 September and, because it was proposed so late, it cannot now be reintroduced.

With developers pointing to farmers as the more likely culprits of polluting, and the water companies themselves for emissions from water treatment plants, the debate became heated. But in the end the sustainability argument won, and strict nutrient neutrality targets remain in place.

This means that developers must ensure that their completed developments result in no additional nutrients being introduced to the environment. A challenge that can be very difficult to meet with the limitations of existing wastewater treatment infrastructure.

Plantwork Systems is leading the way in developing a better BNR wastewater treatment solution for water utilities and developers.

The Better BNR Solution

Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) provides the ideal solution. BNR is a wastewater treatment process by which bacteria and other microbes are used to consume or absorb harmful nutrients present in sewage. However, until recently, applications of BNR have required large amounts of land and have very high operational costs  additional barriers to unlocking land for development.

Plantwork Systems is leading the way in developing a better BNR wastewater treatment solution. Our NUTREM® process is achieving industry-leading levels of total nitrogen and total phosphorus reduction – concentrations below 5 and 0.25 mg/l, respectively, in treated effluent. We are now working with various water utilities and developers to install our bespoke NUTREM® plant as a preference to traditional chemical treatment.

The NUTREM® Advantage

Land take for the NUTREM® plant is minimal compared to traditional biological nutrient removal systems. It can fit in a comparatively small footprint, minimising the need to compromise on development site plans. Plantwork Systems also works with developers and their consultants to obtain all the relevant permissions and permits required. Both Natural England and the Environment Agency know and understand NUTREM®’s capabilities.

NUTREM phosphorus removal wastewater treatment plant at Petersfield STW

NUTREM® offers huge benefits to your development:


Industry-leading level of Total Phosphorus (TP) removal (below 0.25 mg/l)


Industry-leading level of Total Nitrogen (TN) removal (below 5 mg/l)


Ability to meet 0.1mg/l TP with the addition of tertiary filters


No chemical dosing requirements


Effective in all seasons (i.e. including weak sewage strengths)


Lower capital expenditure and operating costs


Smaller footprint, with resulting cost saving


Modular and scalable, allowing costs to be spread


High quality effluent capable of re-use without tertiary treatment


Virtually odour-free operation


No corrosive by-products

Let us help you with YOUR Development

Our technical team offers unique consultancy expertise to enable developers to unlock land for development. Engagement is encouraged at an early stage to keep costs and delays to a minimum, so talk to us today to help you gain planning consent for your scheme or development.

Robert White
T: 0800 310 2073
E: [email protected]

Article by Robert White, PWS Managing Director