Chancel – Case Study

If you think that Chancel Repair Liability (CRL) is dead and buried, think again as one man and his family found out in late 2016 when they received a letter from their local parish council regarding an urgent need for repair to the roof of their local church. Fortunately for this individual, he had covered the risk of this day coming by purchasing chancel liability cover from CLS to cover his rural property two years earlier.

What follows does not resemble a claim on more traditional insurance i.e loss event, assessment, settlement. With chancel, and other legal indemnities, loss often doesn’t crystalize until a complicated legal process has taken place. A church council, if they are following procedure, cannot just carry out repairs to the chancel and then charge their lay rectors (properties owners whose properties are subject to CRL) for their share. The lay rectors must be informed from the start of the need for repairs and then be involved throughout in securing quotes, choosing a contractor and monitoring the build. Obviously when indemnity insurance is involved, then the insurer will also be fully involved in this process.

We at CLS have vast experience in dealing with chancel and will carry out extensive checks to make sure that the parish council in question has the right to enforce CRL. This may involve a search of the National Archives, although strangely in this example the search needed to be conducted within the local archives as the liability stemmed from an Enclosure Award. In simple terms in the 18th and 19th centuries a move was made to increase the country’s agricultural output by consolidating large areas of small holdings into much larger, more productive farms. Sometimes CRL would be caught up within the enclosure, so the owner of the new larger piece of land would be liable for whatever liabilities had existed on the smaller pieces of land that had been ‘enclosed’. Our insured on this claim was able to secure a copy of the enclosure award which clarified what we were dealing with.

We then instructed a solicitor with extensive chancel experience to act for the insurer who in turn instructed leading counsel to look at all the documents and confirm that the church’s claim was genuine (which it was) and then to confirm the insured’s share of the total liability. Cover was then confirmed and we set to work liaising with the insured who attended many meetings with the parish council to gain quotes and decide on a specialist contractor. It’s not always easy to find companies that will carry out work on buildings that are over 400 years old. Once the contractor was chosen and a price was agreed and the loss was crystalized, the policy was able to pay over the insured’s share which totalled around £30,000.00. This all sounds simple, but events took place over the course of 10 months from when the letter first came through the insured’s letter box to when the final payment was made to the church for the insured’s share of the costs of the works.

CLS was able to add so much more than just this final pay out, giving expert advice to the insured throughout, ‘holding his hand’ through negotiations with the church and making sure that his/the insurer’s interests were simultaneously protected. The legal expenses expended on this case would have cost a private individual way in excess of £10,000 and was all covered by the policy. The identity of CLS as insurer was not revealed during the process and so as far as the church and the local community were concerned our insured had instructed his own solicitors to look after his interests and had contributed willingly to the upkeep of the local parish church and the policy will do the same again the next time repairs are required (hopefully not for a long, long time).

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Toxic Dumping In The UK

The concept of nuclear waste being dumped in the UK may sound like something out of science fiction or an episode of The Simpsons, however this is in fact not a new phenomenon in the UK and the consequences may be more severe on the UK’s environment than the occasional three eyed fish.

There is growing concern and anger among campaigners in South Wales, as 300,000 tonnes of potentially radioactive sludge are due to be disposed of on the Cardiff Grounds sandbank. This sediment is due to be dredged from the seabed near the Hinkley Point C plant, as EDF Energy and China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) are set to build two new nuclear reactors at the Somerset site, which is situated in the Bristol channel. There are concerns that the potentially radioactive mud has not been appropriately tested and could degrade and release particles which could be damaging to human health and the environment (BBC News, 20181).

Nuclear waste in the UK

The UK currently has fifteen operational nuclear power plants, the power from which amounts to almost a quarter of the country’s electricity, as of 2016. This number is projected to increase by up to a third by 2035 (World-nuclear.org, 2018). Last month, Chris Huhne the Secretary for Energy, announced an estimated £18 billion project for the building of eight new nuclear power stations in an attempt to cut carbon emissions (Gray, 2018). There is a great deal of concern and apprehension around the topic of nuclear power, especially when considering the well-known disasters of Fukushima and Chernobyl.

Source: Groundsure

In the UK, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (known as ONR) regulates the 37 licensed nuclear sites (Onr.org.uk, 2018). Thankfully, there has not to date been any considerable disasters within the British nuclear industry, although there have been historic controversies with the dumping of nuclear waste (No2NuclearPower, 2018). In general the environmental impacts of nuclear power are harder to detect and relatively low when compared to other types of fossil power (International Panel on Fissile Materials, 2018). However, it is well known that nuclear waste can be damaging towards the environment, as it can affect the air and water, microorganisms, pests, germs, plants, birds and all forms of life in our ecosystem, which can also lead to human ingestion (Ali et al, 2015). Moreover, exposure can lead to cancer and birth defects, these horrific symptoms were sadly felt by the cleanup crew and the surrounding 6.5 million people who were in close proximity to Chernobyl (National Cancer Institute, 2018). Justifiably, there is a lot of bad press when concerning nuclear power and there is a tendency for governments to continue to go on quietly operating these huge sources of pollution without the public asking where does the waste go? And maybe it is time to ask whether these potentially huge sources of environmental degradation are really necessary as we approach 2020?

What is happening in Wales?

Source: BBC 2017

The current debate in Cardiff concerns suitable testing of the potentially nuclear sludge which is being dumped in close proximity to the Cardiff bay area. The government maintains the stance that the sludge from the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant has been sufficiently tested and causes no risk to the environment. However, “The Campaign Against Hinkley Mud Dumping”, which include an eclectic group of scientists, some surfers and a rock star (the keyboard player from Super Furry Animals), believe that the waste has not been suitably tested and could indeed be a risk to human health and the environment.

Professor Keith Barnham (Emeritus Professor of Physics, and Distinguished Research Fellow at Imperial College, London) said on the record that:
“Hinkley Point A was used to produce raw materials for nuclear bombs in the late 1960s. Magnox Ltd has admitted also that many “de-splitting” accidents in the Magnox cooling ponds resulted in spent fuel in the sludge. EDF should have tested for alpha emitters prior to the dumping. Leaks from fuel pins at Hinkley Point were certainly not rare.” (Rowe, 2018).

This argument has been echoed by Neil McEvoy, Member of the Welsh Assembly for South Wales Central in the Assembly chamber; he read a statement in which he quoted Professor Keith Barnham. In layman’s terms, campaigners were calling for more extensive alpha testing and mass spectrometry testing of the sediment not just the gamma testing which was carried out. Gamma rays are often considered the most dangerous type of radiation and alpha the weakest as the rays are not able to penetrate human skin, however alpha rays can still be damaging when inhaled or ingested (Co.monmouth.nj.us, 2018). The campaigners believe that no appropriate environmental impact assessment had been carried out and have sought legal action against the dumping (Morris, 2018). Furthermore, in September (2018), Judge Milwyn Jarman stated that it must be clarified whether dumping the mud from near a nuclear plant is covered by an environmental impact assessment (BBC News, 20182).

This standpoint has been fiercely denied by the government and both developers EDF and Natural Resources Wales (NRW). To begin to understand the argument presented by them, you have to consider that the majority of mankind’s exposure to radiation comes through natural sources and we all naturally come into contact with radiation in our everyday lives (UN, 1988). The research presented by EDF Energy stated that combining natural and artificial levels of radioactivity together, any exposure from the potentially radioactive sludge from Hinkley point C would be 10,000 times less than an airline pilot’s annual dose, 750 times less than the average dose received by a resident of Pembrokeshire due to naturally occurring radon gas, and the equivalent to the average person eating 20 bananas each year (BBC3, 2018). The campaigners disagree, stating that without alpha ray and mass spectrometry testing the true levels of exposure and any negative ramifications from the potentially radioactive sludge remain unknown.

The future of nuclear waste in the UK

Calls to halt the dumping of the “nuclear waste” have comprehensively been denied by the Welsh Assembly, and Ms Lesley Griffiths, the Environment Secretary in a damning statement, accused campaigners as circulating lies (BBC News. 2018)4. Subsequently, the campaign group has agreed to discontinue legal action after the vote from the Assembly (BBC News. 2018)5. However, considering the UK’s determination to continue to focus on nuclear power as a viable strategy to reduce greenhouse gases, maybe it is now time to consider where this extra nuclear waste is going to go?

The implications of harm to the environment from exposure to nuclear waste and the correct way of disposing of it is not universally accepted (Yeager and Shrader-Frechette, 1994). The UK has a long history of burying nuclear waste (No2NuclearPower, 2018), and this is a strategy which the government is not going to change. Recently, a committee of MPs have backed proposals which could lead to nuclear waste being permanently buried under Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks (Carrington, 2018). Therefore, the future of environmental intelligence and potential contamination in the UK’s environment may be more complex and convoluted in years to come.

References

BBC News. (2018)1. Hundreds in nuclear mud dump protest. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-45322712 [Accessed 30 Oct. 2018].

Ali, S.H.A., Iqbal, A. and Awan, M,S (2015) Nuclear Waste and Our Environment. American Journal of Social Science Research Vol. 1, No. 2, 2015, pp. 114-120 Available at: http://www.aiscience.org/journal/ajs  [Accessed 16 Nov. 2018].

BBC News. (2018)2. Toxic mud dump claim ‘alarmist’. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-42226392 [Accessed 23 Oct. 2018].

BBC News. (2018)3. Campaigners drop Hinkley mud challenge. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-45718810 [Accessed 23 Oct. 2018].

BBC News. (2018)4. Call to stop nuclear plant mud dump fails. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-45811491 [Accessed 30 Oct. 2018].

BBC News. (2018)5. Campaigners drop Hinkley mud challenge. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-45718810 [Accessed 30 Oct. 2018].

Carrington, D. (2018). Allow nuclear waste disposal under national parks, say MPs. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jul/31/allow-nuclear-waste-disposal-in-national-parks-say-mps?CMP=share_btn_fb&fbclid=IwAR3WCyUmnHDjD6YoOlAZS5_VzWkoUfmRT1pC95EwtDDriZs65bqjarNyd7k [Accessed 30 Oct. 2018].

Co.monmouth.nj.us. (2018). [online] Available at: http://co.monmouth.nj.us/documents/118%5CRADIATION%20HEALTH%20BASICS.pdf [Accessed 16 Nov. 2018].

Gray, L. (2018). Eight new nuclear power stations despite safety and clean-up concerns. [online] Telegraph.co.uk. Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/energy/8070810/Eight-new-nuclear-power-stations-despite-safety-and-clean-up-concerns.html [Accessed 23 Oct. 2018].

International Panel on Fissile Materials (September 2010). “The Uncertain Future of Nuclear Energy” (PDF). Research Report 9. p. 1.

Morris, S. (2018). Welsh leaders urged to halt ‘nuclear mud’ dumping off Cardiff. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/oct/02/hinkley-point-c-nuclear-mud-case-dropped-after-debate-secured [Accessed 23 Oct. 2018].

National Cancer Institute. (2018). Accidents at Nuclear Power Plants and Cancer Risk. [online] Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/radiation/nuclear-accidents-fact-sheet?redirect=true [Accessed 16 Nov. 2018].

No2NuclearPower. (2018). History of nuclear waste disposal proposals in Britain. [online] Available at: http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/radwaste/history-of-nuclear-waste-disposal-proposals-in-britain/ [Accessed 30 Oct. 2018].

United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (1988). Exposures from natural sources of radiation. United Nations (UN): UN.

US National Cancer Institute, Accidents at Nuclear Power Plants and Cancer Risk

World-nuclear.org. (2018). Nuclear Power in the United Kingdom |UK Nuclear Energy – World Nuclear Association. [online] Available at: http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/country-profiles/countries-t-z/united-kingdom.aspx [Accessed 23 Oct. 2018].

Yeager, P. and Shrader-Frechette, K. (1994). Burying Uncertainty: Risk and the Case Against Geological Disposal of Nuclear Waste. Contemporary Sociology, 23(5), p.691.

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Plans To Build Homes On Green Belt At Popular Prenton Golf Course Causes Fury

Image taken from Wirral Globe

Plans have come about to build 22 homes as well as a brand-new club house and a broader 18-hole course on Prenton Golf Club.  This has caused a frenzy with the public who are outraged over the plans which look to build “executive homes”.

In the previous week there has been an event held, public consultation, which saw over 100 people attend.  They then argued that by going forward with the plans there will be “destruction of the local green belt and woodland”.

Developers, Pegasus Group, are saying that he Merseyside golf course is going to be a part of a scheme to make this a world class sporting facility. 

The consultants for the golf club stated that the homes are just part of the plans and the club could face a possible closure without the funding that they are creating for the club.

On Monday a spokesperson for the opposing residents stated: “These plans will further erode the borough’s green belt in a scheme that sees the permanent destruction of ancient woodland and established ponds along with the eradication of habitat for local wildlife in the area”.

An official protest was proposed last week against the plans by a group that contained residents from both Prenton and Bebington the spokesperson also said.

A public consultation event was held at the Prenton golf club which was attended by both the public and councillors.  This was over the applications before May 10th which is the closing deadline.

The application is looking at remodelling a portion of the golf course, with the club house moving locations so that 22 houses can be built in its original location.

The clubhouse which is said to be “ageing” has hopes that once the renovated one is in place it will attract more occasions due to the “dramatic setting”.

Renovating the club will mean that a “world-class” resort and a “high-energy, efficient” new building could rejuvenate the golf club “for the next 100 years-plus” stated a spokesperson for Pegasus Group.  They also revealed that they have had in excess of 150 letters supporting the project.

This is the second golf course-related development to hit the Wirral news, the first being within Hoylake.  This happened earlier this year when protests took place outside Wallasey town hall over plans to build a £200m golf course.  These plans are still at the beginning stages but if these plans do go forward, Hoylake will be looking at gaining a housing, a hotel and two golf courses.

Lauren Williams, Pali Ltd
www.paliltd.com

 

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Marine Litter, What Is It And What It Does To The Environment

Being based in Brighton and a stone’s throw from the beach, Groundsure is in an envious position to many. However all too often litter can spoil the beauty of our beaches, something it is all too easy to observe being so close to the sea. In this blog post we investigate the phenomenon, where it comes from, its effects and its future management.

Marine litter, also known as marine debris, is human-created waste that has deliberately or accidentally been released in a body of water [1]. The 2018 Ocean Conservancy’s International program of beach cleans recorded the top ten offending articles as; cigarette butts, food wrappers, plastic beverage bottles, plastic bottle caps, plastic grocery bags, other plastic bags, straws and stirrers, plastic take out/away containers, plastic lids, and foam take out/away containers [2]. Of course plastics are often resistant to degradation, persist in the marine environment and often float, making them prominent, both to us and to wildlife.

Marine litter has featured heavily in the media around the world in recent years, for example in the UK, The Independent in 2018 wrote an article entitled “Plastic chemicals changing marine animals’ behaviour and leaving them vulnerable to attack, study suggests” [3]. While in Asia the Asian Correspondent wrote a recent article in 2019 “More plastic bags than fish: East Asia’s new environmental threat” [4]. For an American context CNN wrote an article “Ocean plastic predicted to triple within a decade” [5] while in Australia ABC wrote “Arctic birds, seals and reindeer killed by marine plastics; pollution expected to rise“ [6], and further searches online return thousands of such articles.

On the right is a photo of rubbish on Brighton seafront.

Rubbish seafront UK

A 2009 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report summarises marine litter as ‘an environmental, economic, health and aesthetic problem’ [7]. Marine debris can enter the ocean environment through a myriad of sources ranging from rivers, streams, open lakes, estuaries, and land-based sources such as waste, run off, and sewage effluent, as well as through ocean-based sources, such as maritime and cruise industries, commercial fisheries, and recreational fishing and boating activities. But what exactly are these impacts and how do they affect the environment?

Ingestion and Entanglement
The two best studied environmental impacts of marine litter are the entanglement of, and ingestion by, marine wildlife. A wide range of species including invertebrates, turtles, fish, seabirds and mammals, have been reported to ingest or become entangled in plastic debris, resulting in impaired movement and feeding, reduced reproductive output, lacerations, ulcers and death [7].

The negative effects of entanglement on individuals are more obvious, with Seal pup eating plastic debris, UKexternal injuries or death often observed. Determining the effect of ingesting marine debris on an individual can be more difficult, and the consequences of ingestion are still not fully understood [8]. Sub-lethal effects of entanglement and ingestion that alter the biological and ecological performance of individuals are highly likely, and include compromising the ability of a marine animal to capture food or eat, sense hunger, move, escape from predators, migrate and reproduce.

Above shows a seal pup eating plastic debris in Norfolk.

Microplastics
Microplastics, defined as plastic pieces or fragments less than 5 millimetres in diameter [9], have been accumulating in the marine environment (presumably) since the advent of the use and production of plastics, and are at present only likely to increase in abundance given the current dependence of plastics and reluctance to adopt alternatives. Microplastics can be primary (purposefully manufactured) or secondary (derived from the fragmentation of larger plastic items) in origin [10], and are often added to cosmetics. They are a persistent pollutant that is already present in all marine habitats including Antarctic ice [11]. As a result, it is likely that every level of the food web is exposed to microplastics, from primary producers to apex predators and they have the potential to accumulate within organisms and up the food web to humans [12].

Socio-economic impacts of marine debris 
From the above discussion, we can see that marine debris has extensive negative social and economic impacts for society. There have been substantial economic losses for industries such as commercial fishing, shipping, recreation and tourism. There are also widespread social impacts of marine debris such as direct, short-term human health issues (e.g., injuries, and navigational hazards) and indirect issues such as impacts on quality of life, and reduced visitor numbers.

A global assessment on the sources, fates and effects of microplastics in the marine environment, published by the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) concluded that the presence of microplastics has negative social and economic impacts, reducing ecosystem services and compromising perceived benefits [13].

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the work of more than 1,360 experts worldwide defined ecosystem services as ‘the benefits people derive from ecosystems’ [14]. Besides provisioning services or goods like food, wood and other raw materials; plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms provide essential coastal regulating services such as flood and erosion control, climate regulation, the aforementioned recreation and tourism and even carbon sequestration.

Habitat damage 
The degradation of aquatic habitats due to marine debris poses potentially serious threats to the health of marine and coastal ecosystems and living marine resources. Habitat degradation due to marine debris has far-reaching impacts on biodiversity since many critical areas, such as coral reefs, mangroves, marshes, and seagrass also serve as breeding grounds or nurseries for nearly all marine species [15].

Marine debris can not only damage habitats directly via physical and chemical impacts, but it can also lead to reduced recruitment and reproduction for certain species, which may indirectly alter or degrade critical nurseries and other fragile ecosystems [16]. Accelerated species extinctions and declines in global biodiversity are associated with habitat loss, thus making it critical to unravel the ecological consequences associated with marine debris [17].

The impacts of debris on marine habitats vary in scope depending on the type, quantity, and location of the debris, as well as the vulnerability of the habitat. Although direct physical damage to marine habitats such as coral reefs, benthic zones, sandy beaches, and mangroves has been discussed, all habitats in this paper are in need of additional research [15].

So what can be done? The obvious starting point is preventing land-based sources of debris entering the marine environment, but this is a complex and expensive undertaking. It has been calculated that Local Authorities in the UK spend approximately £18 million each year in removing beach litter, which has also seen a 37% increase in cost over the past 10 years [18].

Legal efforts have been made at both international and national levels to address marine pollution. The most important are the 1972 Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping Wastes and Other Matter (or the London Convention), the 1996 Protocol to the London Convention (the London Protocol), and the 1978 Protocol to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). However, compliance with these laws is still poor, partly due to limited financial resources to enforce them.

Recycling and reuse of plastic materials are the most effective actions available to reduce the environmental impacts of open landfills and open-air burning that are often practiced to manage domestic waste. Sufficient litter and recycling bins can be placed in cities, and on beaches in coastal areas to accelerate the prevention and reduction of plastic pollution.

Rubbish bin Brighton seafrontRubbish bin, Brighton seafront

To effectively address the issue of marine plastics, research and innovation should be supported. Knowledge of the full extent of plastic pollution and its impacts would provide policy-makers, manufacturers and consumers with scientific evidence needed to spearhead appropriate technological, behavioural and policy solutions. It would also accelerate the conceptualisation of new technology, materials or products to replace plastics. Therefore, management should consist of a fourfold approach:

  • Prevention of further marine debris input to the marine and coastal environment;
  • Education of the effects and how simple steps can make a difference;
  • Monitoring of marine litter quantities and distribution; and
  • Removal of existing marine litter and its proper disposal.

Sources
[1] National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (1999). Marine Debris 101, available: https://web.archive.org/web/20090213110801/http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/marinedebris101/

[2] Ocean Conservancy’s International. (2018). Building a Clean Swell, 2018 Report available: https://oceanconservancy.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Building-A-Clean-Swell.pdf
[3] The Independent. (2018). Plastic chemicals changing marine animals’ behaviour and leaving them vulnerable to attack, study suggests. The Independent, available: www.independent.co.uk/environment/plastic-pollution-ocean-animal-behaviour-microplastics-chemicals-study-research-a8654541.html
[4] Asian Correspondent. (2019). More plastic bags than fish: East Asia’s new environmental threat. Asian Correspondent, available: https://asiancorrespondent.com/2019/04/more-plastic-bags-than-fish-east-asias-new-environmental-threat
[5] CNN. (2018). Ocean plastic predicted to triple within a decade. CNN, available: https://edition.cnn.com/2018/03/21/health/ocean-plastic-intl/index.html
[6] ABC. (2018). Arctic birds, seals and reindeer killed by marine plastics; pollution expected to rise. ABC, available: www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-09/marine-plastics-killing-arctic-creatures/9417270
[7] UNEP. (2009). Accessible analyses of the environmental impacts of marine litter can be found, inter alia, in Derraik (n 4) 844-847; 2155-2156.
[8] Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel – GEF. (2012). Impacts of Marine Debris on Biodiversity: Current status and Potential Solutions, Montreal, Technical Series No.67, 61 pp.
[9] Arthur, C. et al. (2009). Proceedings of the international research workshop on the occurrence, effects and fate of microplastic marine debris. September 9-11, 2008: NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS-OR&R30.
[10] Wright, S.L. et al. (2013). The physical impacts of microplastic on marine organisms. Env. Poll. 178: 483-492.
[11] Green Peace. (2008). Microplastics in the Antarctic. Green Peace, available: www.greenpeace.org/international/publication/16899/microplastics-in-the-antarctic/
[12] Oliviera, M. et al. (2012). Effects of exposure to microplastics and PAHs on microalgae Rhodomonas baltica and Tetraselmis chuii. Comp. Bio-chem. Physiol. A Mol. Integr. Physiol. 163: S19-S20.
[13] Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP). (2015). Sources, fate and effects of microplastics in the marine environment: a global assessment. Rep. Stud. GESAMP No. 90, 65 p.
[14] Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. (2005). Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Synthesis. Island Press, Washington, DC.
[15] National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). (2016). Report on Marine Debris Impacts on Coastal and Benthic Habitats. Silver Spring, MD. 20910 301-713-2989
[16] Gall, S C, and Thompson, R C. (2015). The impact of debris on marine life. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 92(1–2), 170–179. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2014.12.041
[17] Pimm, S. L et al. (2014). The biodiversity of species and their rates of extinction, distribution, and protection. Science, 344(6187). doi: 10.1126/science.1246752
[18] Mouat, J, J., Lozano, R., Bateson, H. (2010). Economic Impacts of Marine Litter, KIMO available: www.kimointernational.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/KIMO_Economic-Impacts-of-Marine-Litter.pdf

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Stamp Duty Has Fallen Within The Last Year By One Billion Pounds

Within the last year, figures have shown that the sum of tax gathered from the government through stamp duty has fallen by £1 billion.

HM Revenue & Customs have shown that the tax collected from the stamp duty on property sales have decreased from £12.9 billion, in 2017 to 2018 tax year, to £11.9billion in 2018 to 2019 tax year.

Even though cash from the stamp duty payments are down, this has not affected the capital gains tax payments.  This gets underway when a property, such as the buy-to-let home is sold.  This has increased from the year before, which was £7.8 billion, with it now being £9.2 billion.

The drop in stamp duty has been blamed on the decrease of purchases for buy-to-let properties and also the reduction in purchases of properties from the top end of the market. Another reason for the fall in stamp duty is the majority of first-time buyers are benefiting from first-time buyer tax relief.

The quantity of homes that have been purchased as well as being sold within the UK, has rose month-on-month.  These figures were released by the HMRC showing that it had rose by 1.4% in March and within the last year it has rose to 6.8%.

Within recent years there has been several changes to the Stamp Duty.  It has changed from the slab system that it was in 2014, to be an amount charged on a whole purchase price to a negligible one that bear a resemblance to income tax.  The previously mentioned saw individuals who are higher on the scale paying more tax while those who are lower on the scale paying less.

George Osbourne, a previous Chancellor of UK, announced another additional charge stamp duty on second homes.  This was put in place to control the thriving buy-to-let property market and therefore giving first-time buyers an extra helping hand.

By 2017, the stamp duty had been eradicated for most of the first-time home buyers by the Government.

The UK’s property market is said to be ‘holding steady’ amongst current political chaos is the overall agreement between various analysts after taking the newest HMRC transaction numbers into consideration.

This masks a slowdown in London and the South, however, while regional cities are doing better.

Private Finance director, Shaun Church, stated ‘’Property transactions have flat lined over the past year, with monthly totals consistently hovering around the 100,000 mark.’

However, director of Legal & General Mortgage Club, Kevin Roberts, proposes that even though the transaction figures are encouraging, they are hiding more profound problems.

He further went onto say, ‘The continued support we’ve seen from the Government to help those lower down the housing ladder is to be welcomed, but if we are to increase property transactions, this means helping those at the other end too.’

Lauren Williams, Pali Ltd
www.paliltd.com

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Has The Property Market In Your Area Been Affected By Brexit?

Brexit has hit Britain’s property market with many becoming concerned about the house prices within their area.  At the start of the year subsequent to ‘almost grinding to a complete halt’, the increase in property prices continued to be suppressed according to Nationwide Building Society.

The average price of a house within Britain has decreased after the price last month being £211,304 which was lowered from £211,966 which was the month previous.

Many observers assign the slow-moving housing market down to the hesitation around Brexit.  Its in dispute that many individuals who are looking to sell and buy properties are holding off on what decisions they’ll make until Britain exits the EU.

Image taken from Daily Mail

Despite the property market slump, there have been areas up and down Britain that have experienced an increase in values.  These include, Manchester and Leicester both of which have seen a price increase of 16.6% and in turn 17.2% since the vote which happened in 2016.

In addition to the above locations there is also said to be 10 other areas within Britain that have had a double-digit house price rise.  The list, which was produced by Zoopla, covers areas in Northern England, such as Leeds and Nottingham as well as places in Scotland, Edinburgh, Bournemouth in the South of England and Cardiff in Wales.

The capital which tends to have higher property values than elsewhere in Britain has been one of the hardest hit areas. In London the house prices have increased marginally by only 2% since the vote. 

According to Research and Insight Director for Zoopla Richard Donnell, there is a change on outlook, he stated ‘House prices in London are starting to firm’. 

He also added ‘Buyers who have stood on the side-lines since 2015 are starting to see greater value for money, seeking out buying opportunities amidst the uncertainty of Brexit. This is supported by greater realism on pricing by sellers.’

After the 2016 vote on Brexit, house prices have rose 8.8% or the same as £17,624 stated Zoopla.  This was said after Nationwide made a statement, saying prices fell 0.1% last month between January and February. 

The chief economist at Nationwide stated ‘After almost grinding to a complete halt in January, annual house price growth remained subdued in February.’

Lauren Williams, Pali Ltd
www.paliltd.com

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Plans Move Forward As Liverpool City Centre Looks To Home New High-Speed Rail Station

Robert Elstone, Everton’s Chief Executive, is looking at leading plans for Liverpool City Centre to become the home of a new high-speed train station.  This will look to connect Liverpool with various locations across the UK and cut the time of transport down between these destinations.  These locations include London, Leeds, Newcastle and other stations in the North of England. 

Liverpool is already home to Lime Street Station which is the main station connecting Liverpool to various destinations up and down the UK.  However, it has been said that Lime Street will not be able to cope with the extra traffic that would arise from the new connections from the HS2 to London and Northern Powerhouse rail line across the north.  As well as not being able to accommodate the HS2 and NPR trains which would need to be linked up to the local transport that is already set up.

It is likely that a new “architecturally stunning” station which will be built as a modern equivalent of Lime Street.  There are no fixed ideas to where the location of this new station could be but there are suggestions that it will likely be in the Lime Street area so that existing transport links can be connected. 

However, there are talks that the commission will have to look further afield and potentially look at sites near Lime Street, such as areas from St Johns Shopping Centre to near Universities as well as the former Exchange Station.  The latter is the not the preferred site of talk but is a strong entrant for the station as fewer destructions would be needed as most of the site is vacant.  The high-speed line would have to take a different route into the city and would have to curve around certain roads if it was built in the Exchange station but would not impose on the cityscape. 

In order to help it add up financially, the new station will have to include commercial buildings, recreation and leisure facilities, office accommodation as well as a shopping centre in what can already be described as a crowded part of the city.

Already this is looking to be a complex project with the planning for the new Liverpool train station and the high-speed line taking a large amount of money and time.  The Government hasn’t even given the green light to the plans yet but that has not stopped Metro Mayor Steve Rotherham and his team ploughing away with planning the new station.  He stated that the proposals will “bring hugely significant social and economic benefits” even though it will be a challenging project.

In order to get the plans moving the Metro Mayor will issue a statement about a proposal to start a station commission at the International MIPIM property festival in France.  This commission will be managed by Denise Barrett-Baxendale, Everton Football Clubs Director and CEO, who is leading the Bramley-Moore Dock Stadium Project.

With the high-speed lines reducing journey times, journeys to Manchester would be cut to 23 minutes from 49 minutes and London journeys to 1hr 30 from 2hrs 30 via the HS2.  This would mean that it would make space for freight services on current lines.

Its hoped that if the plans go ahead that the income of the city’s economy would rise by £15bn and create thousands of jobs. Transport for the North gave its official backing in January 2019, but the proposal would still need a huge Government endowment to make it possible.

Lauren Williams, Pali Ltd
www.paliltd.com

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Pali Launches SDLT/LTT and AP1 System

Pali’s new post-completion system enables conveyancers and support staff to submit their SDLT, Welsh LTT and AP1 forms via the Pali platform, streamlining post-completions tasks and processes through one single secure sign-on, helping them to complete all the required tasks more quickly & efficiently.

Our user-friendly smart platform is seamlessly integrated with all government websites such as HMRC, WRA, Land Registry and Companies House to enable conveyancers to submit AP1 and MR01/4 forms. Auto- filled forms remove the need to continuously re-key data, reducing errors and requisitions, saving valuable time and hassle. Fully GDPR compliant at individual form level, ensuring safe efficient use of data with a permanent audit trail and easy access to information.

With the recent changes to the timeframe conveyancers have to file Stamp Duty Land Tax Return reducing from 30 days to 14 days, Pali’s new post-completion system couldn’t have come at a better time. The system enables solicitors, conveyancers and support staff across England and Wales to submit their SDLT or LTT and AP1 forms via the Pali Platform in a quick and easy way using advanced time-saving tools. The newly reduced time frame of 14 days does not apply to Wales, however the Pali system will detect whether the property is English or Welsh. Unique to Pali, users can eSubmit Welsh Land Transaction Tax returns, enabling users to manage LTT Submissions alongside the English SDLT equivalents, drastically easing administration burdens. Commercial conveyancers can easily submit MR01 and MR04 forms online to Companies House.

Pali’s latest development means clients can now manage the whole process from quote to completion achieving maximum digital efficiency, freeing up valuable time to concentrate on client service and outcomes.     

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Homeowner Forced To Pay 40,000 Pound For Cutting Down A Protected Tree In The Garden Of His 1 Million Pound Home

Samuel Wilson cut down a protected 42ft oak tree as it impeded sunlight from a new balcony before getting reported to the council.  He has been forced to pay almost £40,000, which is said to be the value that the chopping has added to his property as well as other costs.

This wealthy homeowner was told to repay £21,000 to the taxpayer, this amounted to the cost of what the prohibited act had added to the worth of his £1m Dorset residence.  On top of this he was further made to pay £15,000 in costs and then also charged £1,200 in fines.  Mr Wilson has now become the first person, under the Proceeds of Crime Act, that has been dealt with regarding a case that involved knocking down a tree to enhance light.

In 2016 a new balcony was added to Samuel Wilson’s lavish home in Canford Cliffs, Dorset.  However due to his south-west facing garden he later recognised that the balcony was shaded by the tree.  Due to a Tree Preservation Order, before cutting it down he should have requested approval from the Local Authority. Nevertheless, he chopped off 12ft branches in order to let sunlight onto the balcony of his property. 

Pictured is the front of the £1 million house in Canford Cliffs, Poole, Dorset, with the damaged tree facing the back garden
Image taken from The Daily Mail of Mr Wilson’s £1m Dorset Property

The size and placing of the oak tree meant that it stopped the balcony, which faces over the back garden, getting any sunlight as it is meters ahead. Due to this Mr Wilson then decided to remove some of the branches of the tree so that the balcony did have some sunlight.

Mr Wilson’s neighbour informed the devastation that he had caused to Poole Council who later launched an investigation.  After appearing at Bournemouth Crown Court, he pled guilty to causing wilful damage to a protected tree and was subsequently fined £1,200 for the offence.

He was told by Judge Johnathon Fuller QC “I am satisfied that in this case there has been a benefit and will adopt the lower valuation of £21,750.” This was picked after two council surveyors stated that the value of the house now had an added value between £21,750 and £30,000.

Lauren Williams, Pali Ltd
www.paliltd.com

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Invitation To Free CPD Conveyancing Webinar

Pali, in conjunction with Groundsure, would like to invite you to join our free Webinar presenting an in depth look at the Groundsure ‘Avista’.

When: Tuesday 16th April 2019
Time: 11:00
Duration: Approx 1 hour
CPD: 1 CPD point

To register for this webinar please CLICK HERE 

In this informative 1 hour webinar we will be covering the following:

  • Contaminated Land
  • Flood Risk
  • Ground Stability
  • Radon
  • Energy
  • Transportation
  • Planning Applications

Please note you will need sound for this webinar.

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

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