News Archive

The Sunshine Parks

29 September 2010

The Sunshine Parks

RPS is supporting solar park developments in the UK for both landowners and developers, and both new and existing clients.

Image: Johan Bolhuis.


Solar parks are a relatively new phenomenon in the UK. The recent surge in activity has been fuelled by what is known as feed-in tariffs, which were introduced in April 2010 and have made these types of developments economically viable. The UK’s solar photovoltaic market could grow five-fold in 2010 according to new analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers. As a result we are likely to see more and more solar park development in the UK.

Under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) regulations, industrial installations for the production of electricity with an area of development that exceeds 0.5 hectare is defined as “Schedule 2 Development.” Schedule 2 development that is likely to have significant effects on the environment by virtue of factors such as nature, size or location is EIA development. It is highly likely that solar parks will be more than 0.5 hectares and so the second test is relevant. The need for EIA for solar parks will therefore be on a case by case basis.


RPS Oxford provides a hub for Planning and EIA skills relevant to renewables development. The EIA project management and planning teams, our ecology team, the landscape and visual resources, historic environment/buildings and GIS/CAD teams working with these projects are all based at RPS Oxford. Specialists on access matters (public rights of way and countryside access), agriculture, soils and socio-economics for EIA complement this renewables hub alongside the strong and supportive administration team. All the teams have a wealth of renewables experience and many of our clients have benefited from costs savings and improved processes through the ability to solve problems face to face at a multi-topic level.

Our in-house graphics team is fully able to develop visualisations for solar parks. The graphics team at RPS Oxford, headed up by Rupert Massey, was recently approached by an existing client to provide visualisation support for several solar park planning applications. Using our skills and knowledge of producing accurate photomontages we have produced a series of photomontage views to wind farm visualisation guidance standard. Where required, we showed year 10 photomontages to demonstrate screening effects. By exporting the model into Google Earth format the client was able to explore a selection of views.

Building mounted photovoltaic

RPS Milton Keynes has been involved in numerous building mounted photovoltaics. Since the introduction of the revised feed in tariff, the interest shown in photovoltaics has increased with new proposals being submitted for large photovoltaic systems designed to maximise revenues from feed in tariffs.

The Milton Keynes office is able to provide technical advice on achieving optimum design and potential revenue from photovoltaic installations including the revenue generated by feed in tariff, import saving and export revenue. As building services consultants, the team is able to provide innovative solutions to gain maximum usage of the energy generated to any building load if applicable.

We keep abreast of current technology and can ensure the most efficient and cost effective systems are installed. We liaise on behalf of the client, with the District Network Operator to ensure the necessary documentation is in place that permits the safe connection and continued operation and future maintenance of the solar photovoltaic system. Once installed, RPS will witness any testing prior to connection to the grid, and ensure the equipment is operating correctly.

Thumbnail: Patrick Moore
Planning Smarter Transport for Britain and Ireland

17 September 2010

Planning Smarter Transport for Britain and Ireland

Our Transport Planners on both sides of the Irish Sea are combining forces to enhance the range of services available to clients in their respective markets. Leandro Prado


Complementary strengths in areas such as traffic network modelling and smarter choices planning have the potential to unlock significant potential for both private and public sector clients in the UK and Ireland.

In the UK we have a strong and established track record in delivering transport development planning and highway design services. We also provide specialised transport services including Park and Ride, cycle strategies and links with the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport. In Ireland we have built an enviable reputation over the last 40 years in the planning design and delivery of major public engineering infrastructure contracts backed-up by specialist transport planning and modelling capabilities.

Together, our offices in both countries can offer clients a comprehensive range of services to solve the most complex and challenging transport problems from concept to design, delivery and final commissioning.

In Ireland we have been responsible in the last 10 years for the planning design and delivery of over 450km of motorways and bridges on the national trunk route network. We are currently working with Ireland’s National Roads Authority (NRA) to plan the next phase of investment. Our transport modellers are also working with national and regional transport agencies as well as local authorities to plan more public transport infrastructure including Quality Bus Corridors, Light Rail Systems and Smarter Travel Plans in order to achieve ambitious national targets for modal shift and carbon emissions reduction.

Through experience RPS has established itself as a leader in Smarter Choices transport planning through its specialist work with a diverse range of clients such as AWE, University of Reading, BP, Twinings and within the residential market.

Newbury’s Operational Director, Richard Stacey said of the joint working initiative “I see significant potential in offering a wider set of transport and highways skills and capabilities to existing and future clients as a result of enhanced cooperation with RPS in Ireland.  This also provides the opportunity to bring RPS Smarter Choices experience to the attention of Irish clients.  I am looking forward to this relationship being developed to our mutual benefit in terms of expanding our client base and also increased knowledge share with our Irish colleagues”.

Transport Planning Director in Ireland, Conall Mac Aongusa also sees significant benefits for clients on both sides of the Irish Sea.  Of the initiative Conall said “The complementary strengths of RPS in Ireland and the UK can present a comprehensive range of transport planning and design services for private and public sector clients from concept to delivery”.

Lowering the Leak by 43-Million Litres

10 September 2010

Lowering the Leak by 43-Million Litres

Severn Trent Water Leakage and Metering Consultancy Framework – AMP5

RPS has been awarded a 5 year Framework contract by Severn Trent Water to provide leakage and metering consultancy services. This Framework recognises RPS’ expertise in supporting water companies to achieve their Sustainable Economic Levels of Leakage (SELL) targets, improve efficiency and develop robust and credible business plans for industry regulators.

Image: Jan Mocnak.


The new framework has three key aspects:

  1. To put in place improved data analysis and data collection processes, helping Severn Trent to justify capital and operational expenditure plans for AMP6 (2016-20). Examples of work to be carried out include: developing a better understanding of the deterioration in the performance of water mains and the consequent impacts on customer service and comparing the costs and benefits of leakage reductions against developing new water resources.
  1. To help Severn Trent prioritise investments to ensure that regulatory obligations (e.g. supply interruptions; leakage levels) are achieved at the lowest possible cost. This will include developing analysis tools to help Severn Trent decide where to target leakage reductions or replace water mains.
  1. To ensure that the impact of leakage upon the environment and society is minimised and balanced. This includes understanding the true costs of leakage upon the environment (e.g. the increased need to abstract more water from rivers or groundwater), the cost to society arising from more leakage reduction activity (e.g. disruption to traffic arising from road closures) and the need to achieve CO2 reduction targets and become a more sustainable business.

In awarding this framework Severn Trent recognises that RPS has a unique blend of experience covering both the strategic and operational aspects of leakage management. This experience ensures that, however sophisticated and complex the solution developed, it will be realistic, practical and cost-effective to implement. This is essential if Severn Trent is to meet its challenge of reducing leakage levels by 43 million litres per day by March 2015.

RPS has hit the ground running by developing an industry-leading tool (Optimised Leakage Interventions) to provide better information to help achieve annual leakage targets as cost-effectively as possible. The tool will dynamically change targeting plans in response to changes in the rate of burst pipes or leak repair times (for example, during a cold winter or hot summer). This new data will help Severn Trent to assess and manage risk and thereby proactively adjust and plan staffing levels. More effective deployment of staff will ensure that greater leakage savings are achieved at reduced cost to Severn Trent and its customers.

Further Development of Canadian Business in Oil and Gas and Potash Sectors

01 September 2010

Further Development of Canadian Business in Oil and Gas and Potash Sectors

RPS announces the acquisition of Boyd Exploration Consultants Ltd (“Boyd”), an oil and gas and mining consultancy, for a maximum consideration of C$13.9 million (£8.5 million).

Founded in 1977, Boyd operates primarily in Canada, from its headquarters in Calgary. Having been established and developed as an oil and gas exploration and production advisor, Boyd has, in recent years, successfully expanded into both the Canadian and international mining sectors, particularly the potash industry. In these markets it acts as both consultant and project manager for large, blue chip clients on geological investigation projects. Boyd also provides environmental advice to its clients through a wholly owned subsidiary, Wildside. Together the businesses employ 26 staff and, as with our Energy business, use a wide range of sub-consultants.

In the year ended 31 March 2010 Boyd had revenues of C$12.6 million (£7.7 million) and profit before tax of C$2.88 million (£1.76 million), after adjustment for non-recurring items. Net assets at 31 March 2010 were C$4.3 million (£2.6 million), after adjusting for assets excluded from the transaction. On a similar basis, gross assets at 31 March 2010 were C$11.6 million (£7.0 million).

RPS is acquiring the entire share capital of Boyd for a maximum total consideration of C$13.87 million (£8.46 million), all payable in cash. Consideration paid at completion was C$7.30 million (£4.46 million). Subject to certain operational conditions being met, three further sums of C$2.37 million (£1.44 million); C$2.39 million (£1.46 million) and C$1.81 million (£1.10 million) will be paid on the first three anniversaries of the transaction. The nine vendors of the business include six directors and staff of Boyd, all of whom are remaining with RPS.

Alan Hearne, Chief Executive of RPS, commented.

“The acquisition of Boyd helps develop further our business in Canada. It will support our oil and gas consultancy activities and takes us into an attractive part of the mining sector. This builds on our acquisition earlier this year of Aquaterra, which enabled us to enter the mining sector in Australia and internationally. We are continuing to look for further opportunities to increase the scale of our activities in this growing sector.”