A Conservative council leader has launched a blistering attack on government advisors who have left construction workers fearing for their jobs amid a stall on Norfolk housebuilding.

John Fuller, South Norfolk Council leader, railed against a Natural England directive which stopped councils in much of Norfolk granting planning permission for thousands of new homes.

Eastern Daily Press: John Fuller, leader of South Norfolk CouncilJohn Fuller, leader of South Norfolk Council (Image: Archant)

Branding the 'nutrient neutrality' directive, "ill-conceived", Mr Fuller, the longest-serving council leader in Norfolk, said: "How on earth can we trust these idiots?

"Stopping building a few bungalows in Bunwell is not going to clean up the rivers. I am afraid this is a case of misdirection."

The directive, issued in March last year, was triggered by fears pollution from new housing would contribute to rising levels of nitrogen and phosphates in the Norfolk Broads and River Wensum.

Eastern Daily Press: Decisions over thousands of homes in Norfolk have been put on holdDecisions over thousands of homes in Norfolk have been put on hold (Image: Chris Bishop)

Such nutrients reduce oxygen in the water and make it harder for aquatic species to survive.

Council bosses hope a new scheme this month, allowing housebuilders to 'offset' the impact of developments by buying 'credits' to fund mitigation measures via a joint venture with Anglian Water, will mean some decisions can be made.

But Mr Fuller, speaking at a meeting about the issue, said Natural England was wrong to see new homes as a major contributor to pollution - and it had put the construction industry at risk.

He said: "The total additional load from the development of new homes over and above all other previous development is about 0.2pc and yet we have the potential to kill off the second largest economic sector and all the people who work in it - the plumbers, chippies, tilers and roofers."

Eastern Daily Press: The block on housing aims to protect waterways such as the BroadsThe block on housing aims to protect waterways such as the Broads (Image: Mike Page)

Natural England said nutrient pollution is an "urgent problem" and extra intervention is needed.

A spokesman said: "We recognise the challenges this creates for developers in additional costs and delays on development and Natural England is very focussed on working with the sector to find solutions."