Monday, 25 February 2013

David Mole introduces Risky Business, discusses changes to the National Planning Policy Framework and government plans to invest in infrastructure

I’ll be speaking to you about our new Risky Business breakfast briefings and the proposed Government changes to planning policies as well and its injection of funds into the country’s infrastructure.

Risky Business

Following our highly successful conference held last November, we are delighted to announce that Landmark will be hosting a series of ‘Risky Business’ breakfast briefings, enabling industry experts to meet and discuss the latest hot industry topics.

The first of three Risky Business conferences in 2013 is taking place on Wednesday 27th February, 8am – 9.30am at Double Tree by Hilton, One Piccadilly Place, 1 Auburn Street, Manchester, M1 3DG

Risky Business breakfast briefings offer a platform for delegates to discuss with leading industry figureheads the latest key issues affecting the industry. Practical guidance and expert advice on contaminated land treatment are offered by key figure heads and delegates are given the opportunity to pose questions and be part of the discussion.

Our speakers include Keith Davidson, founder of ELM Law, a boutique environmental practice that advises law firms, developers, local authorities and the chemicals sector. Keith will be discussing Environmental Law; Understanding the liability rules under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Contaminated Land Statutory Guidance.  He will also provide a summary of the Environmental Damage Regulations 2009 and the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

6 Alpha’s Simon Cooke will provide an insight into the risks of unexploded ordnance, whilst providing delegates with practical guidance to ensure that they are doing all they can to help their clients and protect themselves.

Places for the first breakfast briefing are now fully booked but keep an eye on our website, , as we will soon be opening registration for forthcoming events in Southampton in May followed by London in July.

Changes to the National Planning Policy Framework

It has been well documented that planning decisions can take an exceptionally long time, slowing down and even preventing many people from building new homes, creating new places and bringing disused or neglected land and buildings back into productive use. The Government recently introduced new planning regulations to simplify planning approval processes and make their policies and guidance simpler and easier to follow, thereby greatly speeding up the planning approval process.

Assisting with the Government’s aim to cut red tape and stimulate the construction market is Envirocheck, which offers the industry a world-class, leading comprehensive search of environmental information, including current and historical mapping for environmental professionals.  Envirocheck uncovers all the evidence, thereby preventing delays further in the process. It ensures that the environmental professional’s advice helps their clients achieve a successful outcome from planning application stage by discharging their requirements under the new planning regime for contaminated land appraisal.

Envirocheck provides unrivalled intelligence in contaminated land appraisal through the extensive collation of the information and mapping provided by the service. This gives the environmental professional confidence that they have identified all potential sources of contamination as part of the desk study process, and thereby avoiding unnecessary delays and cost to the project due to a hidden potentially contaminated features being found later in the development process.

Government’s Plans to Invest in Infrastructure

Last December saw the Chancellor of the Exchequer deliver his Autumn Statement to Parliament, which focused on reducing the deficit, restoring stability, re-balancing the economy and equipping the UK to compete in the global race. Amongst the proposals was the Government’s plan to meet the needs of businesses with a £5.5 billion infrastructure package and support for long-term private investment in new roads, science investment, free schools and academies.

I believe that there can be little doubt that investment in the UK’s infrastructure, particularly our travel network such as a third runway at Heathrow and the new High-Speed 2 rail link, is vital if we are to continue to compete on the world stage as a global leader.  Of course, we do not want to build for buildings’ sake, but we must invest in our country otherwise we run the very real risk of being left behind. The French rail network already puts ours in the shade.

The focus by the Government and the injection of funds into infrastructure is clearly a very positive step for the construction industry and environmental professionals. Envirocheck is already playing a role and has been used for several large infrastructure projects, having supplied information to consultants for projects such as the London 2012 Olympics, High-Speed 2 and Crossrail. As the nation rides high on the unrivalled success of the London Olympics, this is a very exciting time with big plans in place to improve our country’s infrastructure – and Landmark and Envirocheck are set to be at the heart of that.

Andy Lucas, MD of Property Assure, looks at the effect of spring and the largest trigger of subsidence – trees and vegetation.

In his third blog, Andy Lucas, Managing Director of Property Assure, looks at the effect of spring and the largest trigger of subsidence – trees and vegetation.

So spring is on its way (although it appears that winter is not going to go too easily) and nature starts to come alive after its winter sleep.  With the start of the tree growing season not too far away (generally recognised as the end of April) tree roots will then start to absorb water. Moisture uptake varies cross the various species but the high water demand trees such as Willows, Poplars and Oaks can remove in excess of 50,000 litres of water a year!

In the last couple blogs we discussed the main causes of subsidence (soil shrinkage).  Each cause usually has some external influence or trigger.  The largest trigger is the water absorption of trees and vegetation in clay and other cohesive soils – in fact over 60% of all subsidence claims are triggered by trees. 

To understand whether a tree could have an effect on a property the property must sit within the zone of tree root influence, which is the area from which a tree absorbs moisture. The extent of the zone depends upon the type of tree and the location of other trees – as they compete for moisture so they send out further roots.  As mentioned earlier Oak, Poplar, Willow are regarded as the worst offenders.   A general rule of thumb to determine the zone of influence is to imagine cutting the tree at its base and laying it down – ‘imagine’ is the main word here as simply cutting down a tree can cause you significant legal and property issues (which we will go into further in my next blog)

In dry periods (drought or seasonal variance) the roots of the tree will spread in search of moisture from an extended area (indeed moisture removal of up to a depth of 6m can take place) and so although originally thought to be too remote to affect the building the tree can now do so.   

So the first step is to understand the subsidence risk and then take into consideration any trees within the zone of influence.  It is important that such risks are taken into consideration before the onset of any new growing season, so the risk (or associated costs of risk management and repair) is realised and managed from the outset.   If numerous trees exist on a property then specific arboricultural advice may be required.

In the next blog we will explore the effect of trees and vegetation further - particularly tree management approaches and the impact of legislation and ownership.

Visit for more guidance and advice on Subsidence.
Andy Lucas, Managing Director at Property Assure Ltd