MORE than £2.7 million could be spent on a new “nature park” as part of a requirement to offset the impact of nearby development on Poole Harbour.

BCP Council is required to ensure all development in the harbour catchment area is “nitrogen neutral” to protect it from pollution.

A cabinet report says there is a “critical” shortage of mitigation measures and that it should fund Dorset Wildlife Trust’s purchase of dozens of hectares of farmland to address it.

Poole Harbour is negatively affected by nitrates in the water which can cause algae blooms, impacting bird feeding grounds.

Research has found most of it is linked to agriculture but sewage treatment outflows are also contributors, despite technology being in place to limit it.

The issue is addressed in the Poole Local Plan which requires all development in the harbour catchment to be “nitrogen neutral”.

Mitigation is achieved by requiring developers pay contributions after being given planning permission which is in turn used to buy farmland and convert it for less-polluting uses.

With planning permission in place for more than 1,350 new homes, 63 hectares of land is “urgently” required and 42 hectares is expected to be needed next year.

The details were revealed in a report published ahead of the BCP Council cabinet meeting on December 16.

The report warns that should this not be made available, the council would have to impose strict planning conditions from April which “would effectively stop new homes being built”.

This has been the case in parts of Hampshire where the absence of a plan to mitigate nitrogen pollution has stalled development for more than a year.

To avoid this, BCP and Dorset councils are supporting a Dorset Wildlife Trust project to buy a “significant” area of agricultural land for conversion to nature conservation. The plan has been supported by Natural England.

The trust would not provide any details of the location but it is in the Dorset Council area and near the boundary with BCP Council. Parts of it will also be open to the public.

“Dorset Wildlife Trust is pleased to be in negotiations about an exciting new project for 2021,” it said in a statement. “However, at this time we are not at liberty to divulge any other further details or information.”

BCP Council’s cabinet will be asked to approve more than £2.75 million to the trust to help fund the purchase.

All the money will be taken from financial contributions made through planning applications.

The report says this would have “considerable environmental benefits” while also allowing it to continue granting planning permission.