Free Webinar on Terrafirma Ground Report – When is it Needed and Why?

When: Tuesday 12th November 2019
Time: 11:00 AM                     
Duration: Approx 1 Hour 

Topics covered: 

In this presentation Terrafirma will be talking about when and why the Ground Report is required in property transactions, the benefits to property professionals, the purchaser and the mortgage lender, and finally they will be exploring the new updates to their highly anticipated second iteration of the Ground Report. 


To join this webinar please CLICK HERE

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Free Webinar – Which Report for which Scenario?

Which Residential report for which scenario?

When: Tuesday 1st October 2019
Time: 11:00
Duration: Approx 1 hour
CPD: 1 CPD point

Topics covered:

This presentation will provide a dedicated look at Groundsure suite of residential reports; why they should be purchased and under what circumstances. 

To join this webinar please CLICK HERE

Don’t have speakers or earphones?
Contact Jo Milne on to receive a FREE pair of earphones.

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Five Luxury Mansions to be Demolished!

During the construction of five luxury £1m houses, the owners have come to a standstill with the completion as two of the five houses have been built in the incorrect places, and one was built 0.3 foot higher that was originally permitted.  Despite Bolton council giving the go ahead for the plan back in 2014, Sparkle Developments came upon this issue as the houses did not correspond with their planning permissions. In urgency to correct this issue the owners suggested to demolish two homes, to then rebuild them in the correct plots, and to then alter the other house accordingly, this would cost them another £1m. Even with all the suggestions for correction from the owners, Bolton council still rejected their requests and decided that the five, six-bed homes were still too large and too far from each other and should all be demolished, but the council also ruled that the properties were representing inappropriate development within the greenbelt policy. The greenbelt policy is in place to prevent the urbanisation of wide areas of land, which provides a habitat to the local wildlife, however it is not impossible to build on this area, the owners only need the correct planning permissions.

The owners are now at risk of losing all five properties as the local authority have proposed an enforcement to flatten the whole development due to the complications with each property, regardless of the fact some houses meet the standards for the initial planning permissions in which were provided by Sparkle Developments, these were also approved by the council back in 2014. As of now the proposal to demolish the whole development is still at a halt as the developers have appealed the decision in hopes to save the properties.

 An owner of one of the properties, Elan Raja, has come out and told Bolton news that he remains “committed to working with the authority to find a compromise”,  even with this appeal planning chiefs have told the developers that the only tolerable plan for the future of these properties is to resist some of the houses and partially demolish others, although this may seem like the most applicable resolution to the situation the developers still remain stuck in their own plans. Another proposal came about in December of 2018, during a private meeting between the homeowners, to demolish one property but rebuilding it under 100 feet to the north-east, and another 57 feet north of the original placement of the property, however the planning agency which is working on behalf of the homeowners has not yet responded – even after being contacted several times.

These houses remain unfinished as of September 2019, as they have yet to create a plan of action for the future, in November there will be a hearing for the appeal of losing the houses all together, that will decide the future for these five houses.


Faith Wood 

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Has the wool been pulled over our eyes?

Many farming processes have the potential to cause significant adverse environmental impacts. The farming sector was the number one industry causing pollution incidents in 2015 (1) and remains one of the top four causes according to the Environment Agency’s 2018-2019 Annual Report (2). The UK’s most common agricultural impacts are associated with the use of pesticides, nitrogen compounds, livestock waste and soil erosion (3). There are approximately 34 million sheep and lambs currently on farms in the UK (4), with sheep dips a prime example of a use of pesticides within the agricultural industry.

Sheep in a field - Sheep dip Agricultural blog

Figure 1: Image captured in September 2015

What is sheep dip?

Sheep dipping is when farmers immerse sheep in a chemical compound to eliminate sheep scab and other ecto-parasites including ticks, lice and blowfly (5). Sheep dip chemicals were first developed in the 19th century and would at that time commonly include arsenic. Arsenic based compounds were used up until the 1950’s and can still remain in soils surrounding historical sheep dipping baths (6). These days sheep dip compounds often contain organophosphorus (OP) or synthetic pyrethroids (SP) compounds which can leach through the soil and pollute groundwater (7).

Sheep dip Ordnance Survey map - Agricultural blog

Figure 2: Ordnance Survey map extract (c.1975 1:2,500)

What are the risks?

Whilst not as toxic as arsenic, the modern compounds are far from safe to human health. Organophosphate exposure can cause coma, vomiting and diarrhoea. Over a longer term they can cause issues with fertility, cancer, as well as brain and nerve problems (8). It’s also interesting to note that organophosphates are the basis of the nerve agent novichok which was used in the recent Salisbury attack (9). Pyrethroids are considered safer for farmers but they can also interfere with nerve and brain function. It has been indicated from animal studies that long term exposure may cause cancer. (10). Additionally, many incidents of pyrethroids causing significant aquatic death were recorded in the 1990’s (11).

Long-term poisoning

From the 1970’s until the late 1980’s it was compulsory for farmers in the UK to dip sheep twice a year with OPs (12). Many farmers who used the regulation sheep dip were later diagnosed with chronic illnesses such as multiple sclerosis (12). In recent years there have been calls for an enquiry as it has been alleged that the government were aware of the health risks but did not publicise the dangers or provide farmers with adequate guidelines for safer use (13).

Safety first

Although there are health risks associated with sheep dipping they are now fairly well known and regulatory bodies publish comprehensive guidance documents.
In order to reduce the exposure of contaminants and to protect the environment, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) suggest that pour on products and injectable treatments for scab control may be used as an alternative to plunge dipping (14).

The HSE advise the following controls are undertaken to minimise human health and environmental implications:

  • Ensuring ventilation, to prevent excessive vapour inhalation,
  • Use appropriate equipment such as a metal handed crook and wearing of personal and respiratory protective equipment (RPE and PPE),
  • An entry slope, splash boards and screens to reduce splashing from sheep entering the dip bath,
  • Ensure that the dip bath has no drains or leaks, and should be inspected prior to use,
  • Draining pens should be have an impermeable sloped floor which allows sheep dip compounds to drain into the bath,
  • Absorbent material such as sand, earth or sawdust should be used to soak up spillages and placed into a sealed container and labelled for disposal at a licensed waste disposal site,
  • Clean water supply for topping up the bath, decontamination and rinsing.

Sheep dip illustration - Sheep dip Agricultural blog

Figure 3: Edited from the HSE Agricultural Information Sheet No.41

What’s happening now?

These days a licence is required to undertake sheep dipping and as a result, mobile sheep dippers are becoming increasingly common (15). The licensed specialists travel to farms with their equipment and operate under regulations. This could hopefully see a decline in the sheep dip related illnesses of the past. However, the cost of sheep dip disposal permits has recently significantly increased – up to 590% (16). These price hikes could lead to more users disposing of the chemicals improperly in order to avoid the fees and it’s possible that as a result we’ll see a repeat of the damage to the environment which occurred in the 90’s.

Groundsure recently launched its new and improved Agricultural search report. Click here to find out more.


  1. Environment Agency, 2016. Pollution Incidents 2015 Evidence Summary. [pdf] Environment Agency. Available at:[Accessed 19th August 2019]
  2. Environment Agency. 2019. Annual report and accounts for the financial year 2018 to 2019. [pdf] Environment Agency. Available at:[Accessed 19th August 2019]
  3. Skinner. J.A et al.(1997). An Overview of the Environmental Impacts of Agricultural in the UK. Journal of Environmental Management, 50: 111-128.
  4. Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, 2018. UK Sheep Yearbook 2018. [pdf] Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. Available at: [Accessed 19th August 2019]
  5. AgriLand, 2018. 5 Reasons why farmers need to dip sheep. Available at: [Accessed 19th August 2019]
  6. Robinson,  A., 2016. Are historical sheep dipping baths in the Ribble Valley a source of arsenic pollution able to cause significant harm to human health? Available at: [Accessed 19th August 2019]
  7. Health and Safety Executive.2013. Agricultural Information Sheet No. 41. Sheep Dipping- advice for farmers and others involved in dipping sheep. [pdf] Health and Safety Executive. Available at: [Accessed 19th August 2019]
  8. Medical News Today. 2017. What are the symptoms of organophosphate poisoning? Available at: [Accessed 19th August 2019]
  9. The Guardian, 2018. Novichok nerve agents – what are they? Available at: [Accessed 19th August 2019]
  10. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 2003. Public Health Statement for Pyrethrins and Pyrethroids. Available at: [Accessed 19th August 2019]
  11. New Scientist, 1997. Sheep dips poison river life. Available at: [Accessed 19th August 
  12. The Ecologist, 2012. Ghosts of farming: Britain’s forgotten sheep farmers poisoned by pesticides. Available at: [Accessed 19th August 2019]
  13. The Guardian, 2015. MPs call for inquiry into sheep dip poisoning scandal. Available at: [Accessed 19th August 2019]
  14. Health and Safety Executive.2013. Agricultural Information Sheet No. 41. Sheep Dipping- advice for farmers and others involved in dipping sheep. [pdf] Health and Safety Executive. Available at: [Accessed 19th August 2019]
  15. Farming Life, 2016. Could mobile sheep dippers be the answer? Available at: [Accessed 19th August 2019]
  16. Farmer’s Weekly, 2018. Sheep dip permit cost hikes unjustified, say farm leaders. Available at: [Accessed 19th August 2019]
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Junior Marketing Assistant Required!

An exciting opportunity has arisen for a Junior Marketing Assistant to join Pali Ltd in Wallasey, Wirral.

Pali (Property And Land Information) is a multi-award winning, national Conveyancing Search Company.  Pali provides Solicitors with Conveyancing Searches and other property related reports.

Pali are seeking a friendly, flexible and efficient Junior Marketing Assistant, who is confident on both the telephone and face to face with clients and prospects as well as being extremely organised. The successful candidate will be working from Head Office which is based in Wallasey, Wirral.

Working Week:

Monday to Thursday 9am-5:30pm, Friday 9am-5pm

Monthly Wage:

National Minimum Wage

Main duties:

  • Contact prospective clients via phone and email
  • Answer client queries via phone and email
  • Database maintenance
  • Entering client’s details in to our bespoke computer system
  • Account set-up
  • Distribute marketing literature 
  • Supporting the marketing department

Desired skills:

  • A clear communicator
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Extremely organised
  • Good computer skills
  • Excellent written skills

Personal qualities:

  • Friendly and approachable
  • Well spoken
  • Very good personal presentation
  • Team player
  • Can multitask

Qualifications required:

MINIMUM of 5 GCSE A*-C or equivalent – essential
A-Levels desirable
Driving License desirable but not essential

How to apply:

Please send your CV and cover letter to Jo Milne at

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Invitation To Free Conveyancing Webinar

New Groundsure Agricultural Report

When: Tuesday 17th September 2019
Time: 13:00
Duration: Approx 1 hour

Topics covered:

This presentation will provide a dedicated look into the new Groundsure Agricultural report. We will provide an overview of what is included in the report including the new information that meets the standards set in Section B8 of the Conveyancing Handbook (25th Edition), as well as looking at key aspects that a buyer should be made aware of when purchasing a farm and agricultural land. We will finish off by looking at case studies to provide real life examples of the risks encountered in agricultural transactions. 

To join this webinar please CLICK HERE

Don’t have speakers or earphones?
Contact Jo Milne on  to receive a FREE pair of earphones.

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Eco-friendly redevelopment for Rugeley Power Station?

Last month an outline planning application was put forward on behalf of site-owners ENGIE for a large, mixed-use development at the site of Rugeley Power Station. The proposal includes plans for up to 2,300 homes, as well as a retirement home and a primary school.

The power station, decommissioned in June 2016, is in the process of being demolished, a process which is scheduled to be completed in 2021.

The 139 hectare site is likely to need remediation before the construction process begins due to the historic use of the site as a power station and various works since 1882.

Section taken from application form – answered ‘yes’ to potential for contamination.
Rugeley Power Station - questionnaire

Historical map from 1981:

Coal-fired power stations can be a source of air and water pollution. Burning coal can release pollutants such as sulfur dioxide (SO2), sulfur trioxide (SO3), nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM), condensable PM, mercury (Hg), trace metals and radioactive substances. This is on top of the release of carbon dioxide (CO2) which is a greenhouse gas contributing to global warming.

Rugeley A power station, decommissioned and demolished in 1994, was remediated prior to residential development at a cost of £4.8 million. Following a similar costing, it could cost upward of £21 million to remediate the entire Rugeley B site.

Following remediation, the plans submitted to Cannock Chase council on behalf of ENGIE propose to transform the site into an area for sustainable living which stimulates the local economy.

The power station:
Rugeley Power Station

Colin Macpherson, development director at ENGIE has said, “The move to take what was historically a carbon-polluting site and convert it into something that is a low carbon site for people to live and work is really really important to me, my team and the business.”

The new development is thought likely to create a number of jobs in the area, as well as being at the forefront of eco-friendly development, with plans to run all homes entirely on renewable energy. This is a stark change from the years of coal power seen at the site in the past.

Should the outline application be approved, detailed plans for the site would need to be submitted to the council and if it goes ahead, construction could start as soon as next year.

1.<a href=wphappcriteria.display?paSearchKey=574059>Search Criteria</a> > <a href=’wphappsearchres.displayResultsURL?ResultID=590188%26StartIndex=1%26SortOrder=APNID%26DispResultsAs=WPHAPPSEARCHRES%26BackURL=<a href=wphappcriteria.display?paSearchKey=574059>Search Criteria</a>’>Search Results</a>

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What is Mundic Block and does it affect you?

What is Mundic Block?

Image taken from H & S Surveyors

‘Mundic block’ is a term often spoke about in Cornwall when individuals have tried to buy property or lived here.  This talks about a building material that was used mainly in Cornwall between 1900-1952.  The reasoning behind it being called mundic is down to the fact they used waste product as a form of concrete and mundic is the Cornish word for mine waste.  In this era, it was normal for the concrete to locally be mixed using materials that were close by.  This meant that many homes within Cornwall were assembled from ‘mundic’ material.

Why is it a problem?

There are numerous problems with the ‘mundic block’, the main one being that it is difficult to know what is precisely in the mixture.  However, as the Cornish soil has a high mineral content and the way in which ore is extracted from the soil, the concrete aggregate contains chemicals or minerals.  Over time this causes the concrete to degrade.

The property value can be seriously affected with buyers avoiding houses that have been built with this substance and lenders refusing mortgages depending on the condition of the property.

How can you tell if a house is built with mundic block?

With some buildings it may be obvious that it has been constructed with mundic materials where with others it might have to discovered by doing a Building Survey.  Any property within West Devon and Cornwall that was either altered or built between 1900 and 1960 that contains concrete need to be tested for mundic matter.

Countless surveyors can arrange for a mundic test to be carried out or can offer a Mundic test.  This test screens for concrete building materials.  Samples are collected with a drill from the house’s fabric, these are then analysed and graded (A1, A2, A3, B and C).

What do Grades mean?

If the grades A1 or A2 has been given this means that the concrete within the house doesn’t contain any possible harmful material or contains so little that its not considered to be a future problem.  Most mortgage lenders will accept this grade in order to lend against.

A3 will be graded if a sample of the fabric contains more levels of mundic than should be in the home.  Special testing is needed to get this grade; however, this testing is not cheap and is time-consuming.  This could still be rejected by the mortgage lenders.

If the property is graded either B or C then no mortgage will be secured.  The reason this would happen is if more than 30% of the concrete within the house is made up of mundic.  This may already have a visible degradation.  Although if the mundic is only within a specific area of the house then you may be able to replace it with a modern material to get the correct lending.

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Flooding: Ten Most Common Questions Answered

The Environment Agency and British Red Cross are urging younger people specifically to learn how to look after themselves and their communities in times of flooding. While their joint report highlights that young people are the most at risk in a flood, at Groundsure we want everyone to be aware of the risks associated with flooding, the potential for flooding where they live or own property, and the ways that can affect their property or any transactions they may be considering. Our 7-in-1 Groundsure Avista report reveals the potential risk of flooding that may impact a home, but we also want to make sure that people know what to do should flooding happen to them.

The way we hope to do this? Answer some of the most commonly asked questions on the subject. We used a handy tool called ‘Answer The Public’ to see what people are Googling about flooding.

Flooding Groundsure blogImage reference:

We then pulled out 10 of the most common questions about flooding to answer below:
1. What causes flooding?
2. Where does flooding occur in the UK?
3. Can flooding be predicted?
4. Can flooding be prevented?
5. Does flooding cause harm to health?
6. Will flooding affect house prices?
7. How do I find out what flood zone I am in?
8. What can I do about flooding?
9. Who to contact about flooding
10. What should I know about buying a house at risk of flooding?

1. What causes flooding?

Flooding can be caused by a variety of factors. It can be caused by human error – like a washing machine leaking leading to water in a home, but also through environmental factors like extreme rainfall events or high sea levels.

At Groundsure, we focus on environmental risk, where flooding has been caused by groundwater, surface water and flooding from rivers and the sea. We also advise on historic flood events and the presence of flood defences.

Each type of flooding is a result of a different set of circumstances. If you want to find out more about this, this article explains each of these in a bit more depth.

The types of flooding that we’re looking at in this article are: Groundwater flooding, surface water flooding and river and coastal flooding.

2. Where does flooding happen in the UK? 

Groundwater flooding can happen in many geological environments, but is a particular problem on chalk and limestone aquifers. These areas are more prevalent in South and South East of England.

Surface water flooding happens anywhere that water is unable to permeate the ground, or sewer system, and therefore overflows.

Fluvial (river) and coastal flooding occurs in proximity to rivers and the sea, respectively.

You can find out if any type of flooding risk might have an impact on your property by purchasing a Flood report from Groundsure. Alternatively, visit for further resources.

3. Can flooding be predicted

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (better known as NASA) – “Predicting floods is notoriously tricky.” Prediction depends on a variety of data points, including rainfall, soil moisture and recent rainfall. Rain storms and heavy snowfall can also create unexpected conditions that are even harder to factor in.

However, this doesn’t mean reasonable attempts aren’t made. The Flood Forecasting Centre (FFC) is a partnership between the Met Office and the Environment Agency (EA) combining meteorology and hydrology expertise to forecast for river, tidal and coastal flooding as well as extreme rainfall which may lead to surface water flooding.

The centre forecasts for all natural forms of flooding – river, surface water, tidal/coastal and groundwater. You can find out more here.

4. Can flooding be prevented?

Floods can be managed through structural and non-structural approaches.

Structural approaches involve the use of physical structures to prevent, divert or mitigate the impacts of flooding.

Non-structural approaches include core processes, such as:

  • the detection and forecasting of potential flood conditions
  • the issuing and dissemination of warnings
  • the planning and implementation of responses to flood emergencies

And non-core processes, such as:

  • the operation of structural flood defences
  • complex information and media management
  • close collaboration with a range of professional FIM partners

There is no single body responsible for managing flood risk in the UK because of the role of the devolved administrations in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Responsibility is joint among a number of bodies, who are detailed here.

Flood Incident Management FIM, a project developed by the EA, combines prediction and prevention to reduce the impact that floods have on the UK.
It aims to reduce the impacts of flooding on society and the economy through non-structural interventions, such as those described above.

5. Does flooding cause harm to health?

Public Health England (PHE) report that flood water may be contaminated by a number of sources, which, if ingested, can lead to infectious diseases. Flood water may be polluted by chemicals or animal faeces, if the water has run off fields, and sewage can rise and escape through drains. Rodents from the sewers can also wind up in flood water. Other risks include injuries, drowning, contact with chemicals, being stranded, having no power or clean water.

They offer advice and answers on their website:

The UK Public Health Register (UKPHR) suggests that there may also be an impact to mental health following a flood, on top of the potential risk to physical health.

6. Will flooding affect house prices?

A flooding event can have an impact on the price a potential buyer is willing to pay for the property. As a seller has to declare any flood events or incidents that have impacted the property, prior to the sale, it may deter a buyer from proceeding with the purchase.

Alternatively, they may negotiate a lower purchase price to account for any potential costs that could be incurred from any flooding that may occur after purchase.

You may find that it is harder to sell a property at the price you had hoped for if the property does have a history of flooding – in order to sell you may need to reduce the asking price in order to make a sale.

7. How do I find out what flood zone I am in?

You can find out what flood zone the property is located in by purchasing a Groundsure Flood, or Groundsure Avista (the 7-in-1 report). Alternatively, you can conduct research on the government website:

This service is designed to give planners an indication of the risk of flooding at a site, all you need to use it is the property postcode, grid reference or easting/northing.

Flood map service Groundsure flood blog

From this screenshot of the Flood Map for Planning website you can see that this sample location is nearby to an area identified as flood zone 3. But it is located within flood zone 2.

Flood map for Planning Groundsure blog

8. What can I do about flooding?

The most important thing you can do about flooding is know if your property is at risk, and prepare for the risk accordingly.

Below we offer some practical advice about what to do before, during and after a flood.

This article from the fire service outlines what you should do in the following stages:

  • Preparing for the flood
  • When a flood starts
  • After a flood has finished

Preparing for a flood

  • Keep a list of useful numbers somewhere you’ll remember
  • Make a flood kit with useful items such as torch, medication, emergency numbers
  • Buy or make some sandbags
  • Find out where to turn off your gas and electricity supplies

During a flood

  • Stay alert – listen to local radio and TV for announcements
  • Don’t walk or drive through floodwater
  • Don’t touch items that have been in contact with the water

After a flood

  • Call your insurance company
  • Contact the gas, electricity and water companies
  • Ventilate your home
  • Watch out for broken glass or nails while you clear up
  • Don’t turn any electrical items back on. Make sure they’ve dried out first

9. Who should I contact about flooding?

To sign up for warnings from the Environment Agency (EA) ahead of flood events, visit:
To prepare, visit:

If you want to report a flood, or a possible cause of flooding, visit:
To get help during a flood, use the resources here:

How to ensure you clean up safely after a flood:

10. What should I know about buying a house with a flooding risk?

The most important thing you need to know about buying a property with a risk of flooding is to be prepared. Find out as much as you can about any previous flood events that have affected the property, and what sort of flood risk presents the greatest threat to the home.

If you know what risks you may be facing, it is easier to prepare for a flood, should it happen, or prevent a flood from impacting your home.

Be aware of any insurance premiums which may be influenced by flood risk, and ensure that you take this into consideration when making your purchase offer.

Groundsure Avista offers seven key environmental searches including flooding, intelligently filtered to produce the most comprehensive risk report on the market. Click here to find out more about Avista.

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Invitation To Free Conveyancing Webinar

Pali, in conjunction with Groundsure, would like to invite you to join our free webinar on Contaminated Land – What to do next?

When: Tuesday 9th July 2019
Time: 11:00
Duration: Approx 30 minutes

To register for this webinar please CLICK HERE

In this informative webinar we will be providing practical advice and guidance on what to do next should your environmental report identify a contaminated land risk using a number of examples.

Please note you will need sound for this webinar.

Don’t have speakers or earphones?
Contact Jo Milne on  to receive a FREE pair of earphones.

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