I'm Still Here

Just a bit short of internets.

BT have promised to fit a phone and broadband to the caravan in a week's time. Cue the sound of hollow laughter. At least they've sent out an engineer to survey the job first. I will be pleasantly surprised if it all goes to plan. Actually, no. My gob will be well and truly smacked. Watch this space for updates.

More in keeping with my usual frustration, I still don't have any sewerage at the caravan. Although Fife Council were prepared, after much delay and prevarication, to let me have planning permission, that's not the end of it. I know have to pay them even more money for a building warrant, and I also have to pay SEPA - the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency - yet more of my hard-earned for permission to discharge treated effluent into a burn that runs through the farm. Both of these permissions could take anything up to six weeks to get, despite them being fairly simple and non-contentious. For the building warrant I had to provide three copies of plans* - yet another cost as you're not allowed to just photocopy the OS maps, oh no. You have to pay through the nose, and make damned sure you get the scale right, or it's back to the start, and yet more expense.

The field I want to build my house in, and which lies between the caravan and the burn, is not suitable for a traditional soakaway. I didn't want to build a septic tank and soakaway system - I mean, 'septic'. It just sounds horrible anyway. And the idea of leaching the effluent slowly into the field where I'm going to have my garden doesn't really appeal either. As it happens, the soil is too slow-draining, so a soakaway would very quickly turn into a smelly bog.

So I've applied for permission to install a domestic scale sewage treatment plant. The outflow for this is almost clean enough to drink - although I'm not sure I'd want to try. And yet still SEPA are reluctant to let me add it to the water already flowing through the farm. Fife Council Building Control can't seem to get the word 'septic' out of their brains either, as every time I call them to discuss my sewage treatment system they insist on referring to it as a septic tank. And these guys are meant to be checking that what I do is done properly?

I had a similar problem with the mindlessness of the bureaucracy when I put in the planning application. Despite my repeated corrections, and even sending them a letter fully outlining the situation, they never quite got hold of the idea that my application was different from and in no way related to an application that my brother had put in around the same time. I can only assume that the powers that be demand all the information we supply them out of a sense of spite, or perhaps because it's the only power they wield. They certainly never read the stuff we send them.

I wonder how much trouble they'll have getting their heads around the house build, if and when it ever happens. I don't suppose there's been a barn raising in these parts for a while.

*this isn't quite as bad as one other council that I won't name here to save their embarrassment. Their planning application system is online, and maps are submitted as pdf or jpg files, and yet they still insist on three copies of everything. I kid you not.


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