Follow our progress running the nursery, watching wild bees, keeping honey bees and creating our own bee-haven in south Oxfordshire

New utilities connections for the nursery; not easy

Having finally bought the land we need to get connected to water, power and telecoms.  We are aiming to be as sustainable as possible in these matters ( we will harvest rainwater from the polytunnel roof and have submitted a planning application for a wind turbine) but its still safer to have the mains connections, at least as back-up.  The connections will not be very easy though as my access way to the site is 200m from the main road. I contacted the various service providers and it has been interesting as they each have a very differnt approach to dealing with 'new builds' or in the case of BT, no obvious approach at all.  For those of you who may need to undertake this task here is a quick summary.

1, Water; Thames water require you to download and complete a long and complex form which asks technical questions that only an experienced developer would know the answers to (like, what size pipe connection you require). Then you send them a payment of £240 before they will talk to you.  After that they get much more helpful and responsive and will guide you through  the various decisions by phone and send a nice man out to do a survey.  The price was quite reasonable too so, well done Thames.

2, Electricity: Southern electric require you to complete a simple short form and send a plan but you dont have to send them any money. They then phone you up and remotely talk through the connection options before sending a quote. So far so good but then it gets tricky; you have to pay the quote in full before you get an engineer to come to site and check if the quote is right! Very expensive but quite efficienct.

3, Telecoms: BT. I still dont know how to get service from this shower.  I spent hours on the web-site and phone but they are just not set up to deal with new builds. In the end I had to agree a service contract and add a foot-note that they should send out a surveyor. IOn theory, the contract includes a free installation but that really assumes that you are a domestic house with a cable already in situe. Actually note about the surveyor worked and they came out (from Open Reach who BT outsource thier network work to) and told me that it would not be a standard connection and that they would send me a quote.  The problem is this was 3 weeks ago and hasnt turned up. Instead we have twice had BT engineers trying to book to come and install the connection. They will be lucky as the cable needs to be connected from under to tarmac in the road and I dont think the standard engineers come equiped to do that.

I think that they want to charge me about £1000 anyway which is just unjustifiable for a new business so it probably doesnt matter.