SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME: An artist’s impression of how the new Rotters eco-centre will look. The project has been given the green light by planners
SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME: An artist’s impression of how the new Rotters eco-centre will look. The project has been given the green light by planners

COUNTY planners have given the green light for a new eco-centre that will showcase the best of environmental building practices.
Ironically, it was only the Environmental Agency that objected to the centre which Teesdale Conservation Volunteers (Rotters) wants to put up at their Startforth composting site.
Rotters officials aim for the new build to be entirely self-sustaining, generating its own heat and energy.
Rotters’ Martin Bacon said: “The Environment Agency objected on the grounds that we wanted our own sewage treatment works.
“We wanted one for it to be a truly sustainable building but they wanted us to go into the main sewer – so we agreed to that and the Environment Agency withdrew the objection.”
The new building, which features such innovations as a living roof and wall, was designed by Paul Hunt, of Dark Skies Design, who is based at Baldersdale and specialises in eco-friendly architecture.
Mr Bacon aims to use a variety of building techniques during construction, which he wants to do at a low cost and which is friendly to the environment.
He said: “Over of the years, I have looked at a lot of eco-buildings. Most of those today are just heavily insulated.”
However, a challenge is the site location, an area surrounded by Deepdale Woods, alongside Deepdale Beck, which receives no sun for seven months of the year.
Mr Bacon said: “We would like to do something different like straw bales and cob, but it is just too damp. So, we are taking everything into consideration.
“We are looking at Isotex, which is made in Italy and has been used in Germany since the 1940s.
“It is woodchip bound with cement and clay making it 100 per cent waterproof.
“It is a very easy product to work with which is in-filled with concrete. Unfortunately, you can’t get away from building a building without concrete and cement,” he added.
“We want to use different methods like rammed earth and hemp insulation.
“We want to use stuff that demonstrates the different techniques.
“The idea is that we build it ourselves with volunteers so it must be something simple and not too complicated.”
Prior to starting construction, Rotters is putting up a

temporary office which will include some of the features and ideas they want to use in the new office and eco-centre.
This includes solar panels with monitoring to determine how much energy is taken from the panels and how much from the grid to keep the office running.
Mr Bacon said: “This will tell us how much we need for the new building.”
Also planned for the new eco-centre are the different types of energy sources that are available to people.
“It someone wanted a see how a pellet stove works, we could show them and then they could make an informed decision and not spend £1,000 on something they later realise doesn’t work for them,” added Mr Bacon
This, he said, would be of tremendous value to people in Teesdale, many of whom live in fuel poverty areas and do have access to mains gas supplies and have to rely on coal and oil.
The Rotters trustees met on Wednesday last week to further discuss the various opportunities for the centre the planning approval has given them.