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Paul K

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  1. Causing us a problem in East Kent. All the councils in the Stour Valley catchment area seem to have been caught out by NE’s change to the acceptable levels of phosphates (generally from farm fertilizers) & nitrates (from sewage) in the watercourse and are scrambling to come up with a policy to address the issue. The current plan seems to be for the council to convert some of their land to wetlands and then create some sort of offset credit system, but until they do, everybody’s applications are on hold, unless you can show ‘nitrate neutrality’. Of course, a system to purchase offsite credits also raises the questions of how much they will cost, how many will be available and how they will be allocated, and I fear that the self-builder will end up at the bottom of the pecking order. At the moment it seems the only way to achieve consent is to incorporate a wetlands area, which needs to be at least 2 hectares in size to be effective (so not much help for most sites) or to take agricultural land out of production in order to offset the nitrates of your development (hence larger developers buying up & ‘closing down’ arable farmland). The council also tell us that on-site treatment plants don’t help as the outflow always eventually reaches the water course. The nett result for me is that the outline application for 4 x self-build plots that I submitted in March last year remains on hold, with no resolution in sight. What I also can’t work out is how I can be expected to produce nitrate calculations on an outline application where no house plans are specified, and why they can’t provide outline consent with the nitrate issue left as a reserved matter, based on the final design of the houses. And, of course, no one is addressing the elephant in the room which is the Southern Water Authority preferring to pay £90m fines for polluting the rivers rather than spend money upgrading their sewage treatment plants! If anyone has any suggestions on how to best deal with this problem, I‘d be glad to hear your ideas.
  2. Thanks - I had pretty much come to the same conclusion.
  3. I recently come across the Gablok system (gablok.com/en) online and wonder if anyone has used this product and what you think of it. I only ask because I tried to get some information by contacting their UK office, but haven’t been able to get through on the phone and have had no responses to either emails or voicemails. Can anybody shed any light on whether this company is still operating? Thanks, Paul
  4. Update: I contacted selfbuild.uk.com whose insurance product seemed attractive, but they needed details of the build method in order to quote for public liability cover on the land (!!) and then informed me that their underwriters wouldn’t quote for ICF or SIPS as they were considered too high risk (!!!). Apparently they’ve had too many claims involving these two, but couldn’t divulge what the claims were for. What I’m now worried about is that ICF (my preferred choice) may have some inherent problem that carries a risk and makes it uninsurable; any comments?
  5. Thanks. I did call Protec, but although they seemed keen to help once work was underway, they couldn't offer any 'land liability' insurance to cover us while the site remains just bare ground.
  6. I'm about to complete on the purchase of some land and wonder if anybody can advise me where best to look for a public liability insurance product that can later have site insurance added to it. Also, as a newbie to this, are there any potential pitfalls that I need to watch out for when arranging this sort of insurance cover? Any help with this (my first post) would be appreciated.
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