Phosphate credits

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Joined
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Wiveliscombe
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Does anyone know much about these schemes? We've been approached two or three times recently by companies offering to replace our septic tank with a modern one for free, and give us some cash, and service it for free for five years so they can sell on the phosphate credits to developers who have house-building projects that are stuck in planning due to problems over potential phosphate emissions.

On the face of it the idea quite appeals, not least because our "septic tank" is actually a leaky (in both directions) brick box buried behind the house and is bound to become my problem if we want to sell the house before I go to the big compost heap in the sky.

I can't find much about the schemes online however, other than from companies who are doing the installations, which makes me a little apprehensive. I'd be much happier getting involved if there were at least a few people online saying stuff like "We had it done, it was very straightforward and it's all worked out nicely".

James
 
Is the replacement a fibreglass bottle type or a proper biodisc?.

We had a cottage by a river once and the brick septic tank had the effluent level rising and falling to match the river.
We moved before the E A knocked on the door.
 
Is the replacement a fibreglass bottle type or a proper biodisc?.

I'm fairly sure it would have to be a proper modern treatment plant rather than an "onion". I don't think anything else is acceptable to our planning department/building control these days. And of course the installer needs to be able to demonstrate that they've stopped some given amount of phosphate entering the environment which may not be possible with the older style.

James
 
Does anyone know much about these schemes? We've been approached two or three times recently by companies offering to replace our septic tank with a modern one for free, and give us some cash, and service it for free for five years so they can sell on the phosphate credits to developers who have house-building projects that are stuck in planning due to problems over potential phosphate emissions.

On the face of it the idea quite appeals, not least because our "septic tank" is actually a leaky (in both directions) brick box buried behind the house and is bound to become my problem if we want to sell the house before I go to the big compost heap in the sky.

I can't find much about the schemes online however, other than from companies who are doing the installations, which makes me a little apprehensive. I'd be much happier getting involved if there were at least a few people online saying stuff like "We had it done, it was very straightforward and it's all worked out nicely".

James
I’m in the same position James, I want to replace my old tank with a new treatment plant, having found the price to join the mains absolutely impossible. I’ve not heard of the phosphate scheme and it looks like being local to Somerset. There’s plans for rather a lot of building there it seems. Seems a little too good to be true to me, but I’m an old sceptic…..
 
I’m in the same position James, I want to replace my old tank with a new treatment plant, having found the price to join the mains absolutely impossible. I’ve not heard of the phosphate scheme and it looks like being local to Somerset. There’s plans for rather a lot of building there it seems. Seems a little too good to be true to me, but I’m an old sceptic…..

There's a map on the back of the leaflet I have here on my desk that suggests Dorset is covered, but perhaps that means there was a scheme in the past, or that there may be one in the future. It's from these people if you want to get in touch with them to see if there's anything doing in your area.

I'm sceptical for exactly the same reason and can't help thinking that there may be issues that I wouldn't be quite so happy about, but of course none of the people actually offering the upgrades will be talking about any of those.

James
 
There's a map on the back of the leaflet I have here on my desk that suggests Dorset is covered, but perhaps that means there was a scheme in the past, or that there may be one in the future. It's from these people if you want to get in touch with them to see if there's anything doing in your area.

I'm sceptical for exactly the same reason and can't help thinking that there may be issues that I wouldn't be quite so happy about, but of course none of the people actually offering the upgrades will be talking about any of those.

James
Looks a lot like a carbon offset type scheme. You enter into an agreement (s106) with the planning authority and the contractor, who can’t get the go ahead to build. If he gets enough folk to upgrade their septic systems, the phosphate reductions added together can allow the contractor to build, possibly in a sensitive area, despite raising phosphate levels there to an unacceptable level. It’s legal no doubt but is it ethical?
 
As per @The Poot, whilst this may benefit you it strikes me as massively unethical. Credits for offsetting schemes just allow developers/companies to continue with business as usual to destroy the environment for private profit. Be the moral victor on this one, even if it leave your wallet bleeding.
 
Looks a lot like a carbon offset type scheme. You enter into an agreement (s106) with the planning authority and the contractor, who can’t get the go ahead to build. If he gets enough folk to upgrade their septic systems, the phosphate reductions added together can allow the contractor to build, possibly in a sensitive area, despite raising phosphate levels there to an unacceptable level. It’s legal no doubt but is it ethical?

It may vary across the UK, but as I understand it the requirement in Somerset is that there must be no net increase in the levels of phosphates across the Levels and Moors. We're some distance from the Levels, but as much of the water from this area eventually drains into the Tone and that ends up on the Levels, effectively all new house-building in this area is stalled even when it's in a "non-sensitive" area (such as a brownfield ex-industrial site on the edge of Wiveliscombe where development is currently stuck as far as I'm aware). Effectively the area that requires protection is relatively small, but the catchment area for the water that ends up on it is enormous. The idea of this scheme as far as I understand it is to reduce the phosphate output of homes like mine by enough to match the expected phosphate output resulting from the new development so the level of phosphates entering the Tone (and by extension the Levels) remains the same. I'd hope there are separate controls that prevent the excessive raising of phosphate levels locally too. Something I shall check on.

Irritatingly I have a friend who could give me chapter and verse on this and tell me whether it's really an environmentally sound idea, but he's been utterly impossible to get hold of for months :(

James
 
I found a map! The protected areas are those in red. If I've understood correctly, the way water flows means that no new houses can be built anywhere in the blue area as a result unless there is some form of mitigation for their expected output of phosphates. It's awkward to read from the map, but that includes the towns of Taunton, Ilminster, Yeovil, Street and bits of Bridgwater as well as many smaller ones.

14311928


James
 
Ultimately we shouldn't be entertaining this 'it's OK if phosphate levels aren't increased overall' BS. The fact is they need to be reduced drastically. The scheme you're mentioning does nothing positive in that regard.
 
I found a map! The protected areas are those in red. If I've understood correctly, the way water flows means that no new houses can be built anywhere in the blue area as a result unless there is some form of mitigation for their expected output of phosphates. It's awkward to read from the map, but that includes the towns of Taunton, Ilminster, Yeovil, Street and bits of Bridgwater as well as many smaller ones.

14311928


James
The background and context is below. Effectively, a broker would, by paying for a reduction in your phosphate pollution (via a compliant discharge), resell on that reduction to the highest bidder. And development land carries a high premium. At some point sewerage treatment works will be upgraded, via water bill price increases so that the additional phosphate arising from development can be dealt with. One would have thought that there must be some ongoing commitment/liability for your discharge to continue to function effectively in the interim. As implied above this approach is designed to stop things getting worse rather than improve things, and as we know many lowland water courses and wetlands are in a pretty parlous stay as a result of diffuse pollution, both N and P, from agriculture.
https://www.somerset.gov.uk/plannin...on-the-somerset-levels-and-moors-ramsar-site/
 
Ultimately we shouldn't be entertaining this 'it's OK if phosphate levels aren't increased overall' BS. The fact is they need to be reduced drastically. The scheme you're mentioning does nothing positive in that regard.

No, I agree. Possibly the correct action is to significantly upgrade all the water treatment plants so they're not dumping them back into watercourses and to ensure that there isn't excessive run-off from agriculture, but somehow I can't see government and the water companies going for that in a hurry. I suspect that people who have septic tanks aren't very large contributors to the problem really. I have read a suggestion that government might allow developers to build based on water treatment improvements being made at some point in the future which seems exceptionally dodgy.

But even requiring that developers bought some percentage more in credits than were actually required for their development would be a start. At least then there'd be a chance that things might move vaguely in the right direction.

James
 
'I have read a suggestion that government might allow developers to build based on water treatment improvements being made at some point in the future which seems exceptionally dodgy.'

Maybe, but some are now baked in commitments already agreed to as part of the last Periodic Review of Pricing. Basically an agreement between the Govt, Ofwat and Water companies about what needs to be spent to upgrade infrastructure, which is funded through water bill increases.
 
This is what is affected and requires protection.
It makes me wonder how the Glastonbury festival gains permission to go ahead, given the nature of toilet facilities….
219E8165-2C9B-4BAB-A5A8-BE003F015A0D.png
 
Looks a lot like a carbon offset type scheme. You enter into an agreement (s106) with the planning authority and the contractor, who can’t get the go ahead to build. If he gets enough folk to upgrade their septic systems, the phosphate reductions added together can allow the contractor to build, possibly in a sensitive area, despite raising phosphate levels there to an unacceptable level. It’s legal no doubt but is it ethical?
House building companies and ethics ?
Me thinks not.
Pretty much every loophole is exploited to force through these planning applications.
 
Does anyone know much about these schemes? We've been approached two or three times recently by companies offering to replace our septic tank with a modern one for free, and give us some cash, and service it for free for five years so they can sell on the phosphate credits to developers who have house-building projects that are stuck in planning due to problems over potential phosphate emissions.

On the face of it the idea quite appeals, not least because our "septic tank" is actually a leaky (in both directions) brick box buried behind the house and is bound to become my problem if we want to sell the house before I go to the big compost heap in the sky.

I can't find much about the schemes online however, other than from companies who are doing the installations, which makes me a little apprehensive. I'd be much happier getting involved if there were at least a few people online saying stuff like "We had it done, it was very straightforward and it's all worked out nicely".

James
I would be inclined to grab the deal whilst you can . Government plans to shake up / speed up planning are likely to remove the restrictions on developments by allowing credits to be bought from improved infrastructure / treatment plants that are proposed sometime in the future,. As with carbon credits big oil company’s buy …. No gaurentees that the promised trees actual get planted / grow or survive forest fires. Make yourself feel good by taking the moral high ground if you like. But it’s a bit like separating your rubbish for recycling only to find your plastic is shipped to Africa or buried in the same landfill here because the local recycling plant isn’t equipped to recycle plastic.
 
If it were me I'd be asking to speak to others that have already had it done, if there isn't anyone I'd ask for a longer period of free service, say ten years (transferable if the house were to be sold).

I'd also wonder how many of the proposed houses on the new developments will have the plant installed as surely a new installation on a virgin site will be much easier than a retrofit.
 
I'd also wonder how many of the proposed houses on the new developments will have the plant installed as surely a new installation on a virgin site will be much easier than a retrofit.

There's a fairly strong bias against off-mains sewerage in the planning department possibly as a result of this problem, so I imagine most, if not all, of the houses that are likely to get permission to go ahead will be connected to mains sewers. I'd guess that retrofit for some people will be an absolute pig of a job and as a result they may not go ahead. We do at least have access for a reasonable size excavator and concrete deliveries where ours is. Obviously there's always likely to be existing access for a truck to pump the tank out, but they can do that from a distance just with a hose so it may not be sufficient to get machinery in to install a replacement.

I've had a message elsewhere from someone who used to live in Exeter who says that they had to bring their septic tank up to more modern spec before they could sell their house some years back. Apparently it cost them £25k!

James
 
There's a fairly strong bias against off-mains sewerage in the planning department possibly as a result of this problem, so I imagine most, if not all, of the houses that are likely to get permission to go ahead will be connected to mains sewers. I'd guess that retrofit for some people will be an absolute pig of a job and as a result they may not go ahead. We do at least have access for a reasonable size excavator and concrete deliveries where ours is. Obviously there's always likely to be existing access for a truck to pump the tank out, but they can do that from a distance just with a hose so it may not be sufficient to get machinery in to install a replacement.

I've had a message elsewhere from someone who used to live in Exeter who says that they had to bring their septic tank up to more modern spec before they could sell their house some years back. Apparently it cost them £25k!

James
I’ve been given an estimate of £25K to just connect from my boundary to the sewer, a distance of just over four metres. The requirements for trenching health and safety and organising a road closure with diversions, for two weeks (!) just makes the idea a non starter. An upgrade to a treatment plant would be about £20K where I am as access for diggers and dumper trucks is only possible by removing fences and trashing paths and the best part of the garden. As long as I don’t need to move before flying away, I can get the tank emptied rather a lot for that kind of money.
 

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