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What to Look for in “Green” Land for a New Build Home in England

In Green & Ethical Living, Home & Garden by eva.katona@yahoo.comLeave a Comment

 

This is a collaborative post.

Let’s start by saying we are not talking about land in the Green Belt. That land has been set aside for such things as parks and areas where structures are, for the most part, prohibited. When we speak of green land, we mean land that is environmentally sound and free from contaminants and other issues that affect both the environment and the health of people who would build and live on that land. If you are among the many who support the Net Zero initiative and are seeking to do your part when building a new home, it all starts with finding the right land that meets your ‘green’ requirements.

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Existing Issues to Be Aware Of

When you are trying to find land for sale, the very first and most important thing to do is only use a reputable land seller. There are many reasons for this beyond a seller who isn’t going to insist on a selling price well above what the property is worth. Without getting off the subject here, it should be noted that the more interested in a property you appear to be, the higher the asking price will be. This pertains to land you are looking at but hasn’t been listed and in which the owner may be willing to sell. That is the first issue to be aware of, but believe it or not, it isn’t the biggest concern of all!

The first area of concern is radon gas, which can be a serious health risk if you are exposed to high levels of it over long periods of time. Radon gas emits tiny radioactive particulates and has been proven to cause lung cancer in people exposed to it in high amounts over the years, as mentioned above. According to research conducted in 2009, at that time the British Medical Journal (BMJ) reported that there were approximately 1100 lung cancer deaths directly related to radon gas being emitted on residential property. Although radon is an issue, there are other equally dangerous things to look for at the very same time.

One that comes to mind is runoff from chemical plants or anyone using chemical fertilisers or pesticides in the area. This can get into ground water and if you need a well, the runoff could be problematic. Also, if you are in a farming belt, any cattle or livestock you raise could be affected as well. Bear in mind they do nibble the grass that could be contaminated.

Proposed Development Projects of Concern

One thing that may not show, even on listed properties, is a proposed development project in the area that could, at some point, have a negative effect on nearby properties. These would include such things as proposed industrial projects. If you are dealing with a reputable land seller and you explain that you are looking for environmentally safe property on which to build, they should divulge any known proposals in the area. Bear in mind that this may also be a reason why landowners are parcelling out their land for sale. Not all landowners are as ethical and conscientious as they should be, so you would also need to do your own research.

Again, let’s refer back to any chemicals that can be washed down, infiltrating the water table in nearby properties. Even land inspectors may miss little subtleties that could have a profound impact on the environment. Smoke from chimneys, chemical fumes and any number of pollutants could range ‘just’ inside the safe zone. But when subjected to these things day after day, that safe zone could be questionable. Look at all the lawsuits arising from issues just like this! 

Speaking of safe zones in terms of levels of toxicity, even the UK government has been sued over their lack of effort in reducing nitrous oxide from the atmosphere. If they are falling behind in this area that is of such grave concern, how high (or low as the case may be) are their standards? Check out this article from 2017 which wasn’t so very long ago.The main point in all this is not to point fingers at the government or landowners. It’s merely to indicate how grave an issue toxic particulates can be and the level of toxicity is even beyond what government is able to handle timely now. What will the future hold if stricter legislation and inspections aren’t instituted?

Eco-Friendly Builders in the Area

The good news is that eco-friendly builders you contract for your new build have ways to reduce or mitigate dangerous levels of radon gas, to some extent. With that said, it should be noted that the areas of the UK with the highest levels of radon are known to be South West England and Wales. This is where you will find eco-friendly builders who have spent time and money researching ways to implement strategies in building that are proven to offset those dangerous levels of carcinogenic radon gas.

This is not to say that there are not builders in other areas of England who employ these proven methods. It just refers to the fact that these areas of the UK where radon levels are found to be highest would be the areas where ethical greenbuilders have the greatest need to combat this toxic gas. If the problem isn’t great, few builders would need these strategies so that’s important to understand as well. Just because a property you are interested in has issues with radon gas, doesn’t mean you can’t develop it. Talk to your builder to see which mitigation system is best and if the levels are at least low enough so that the system you order has an impact.

Don’t forget that there are also other surveys such as tree surveys, bat surveys and other things you will want to know for a truly eco-friendly lifestyle. Protect other species and they will protect you in a symbiotic relationship. As the land gives to you, give back to the land. This is what you need to know and look for when finding the perfect land for that new build. With that said, happy hunting and good luck!

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