News Archive

Heritage Impact Assessments

28 March 2011

Heritage Impact Assessments

A new requirement for planners in England.

The Government’s Planning Policy Statement - PPS5: Planning for the Historic Environment was published in March 2010, replacing previous documents PPG15 and PPG16. It is clear that many planning authorities allowed for a brief ‘honeymoon’ period within which a new requirement for Heritage Impact Assessments would not be rigorously enforced, but this appears to be coming to an end.

University of Reading - Henley Business School. Image: RPS

PPS5 introduced a requirement that applies to all planning applications in England regardless of scale or extent, whereby applicants should demonstrate the significance of heritage assets that are affected by a scheme, and how their setting affects that significance. A heritage asset does not have to be designated, and the definition encompasses any site, area, building or monument that is identified as having significance meriting consideration in planning decisions. A heritage impact assessment should then be carried out under PPS5 to establish the impact of the proposed scheme on the identified heritage assets.

RPS’ Historic Environment team at the Oxford office provides a comprehensive service for archaeology, historic buildings and historic landscapes. The team is increasingly involved in the production of Heritage Impact Assessments for RPS planning teams and for external clients, building on RPS’ extensive experience in Environmental Impact Assessments for which we have developed a clear and concise methodology to assess the effects of proposed developments on heritage assets and their settings.

RPS’ recent experience in Heritage Impact Assessments includes examining the impact of a proposed supermarket in Kidderminster on the site of the world-famous Tomkinson and Adam Axminster carpet factory1. The proposal involved widespread demolition of old factory buildings and the shortening and re-use of a locally-listed warehouse. The HIA demonstrated that the heritage values of the warehouse and wider site would be conserved and enhanced.

RPS also provided heritage and planning services for necessary fire safety updates at the University of Reading’s Grade II* listed Henley Business School -working closely with the University and the architects to ensure close collusion with the aspirations of English Heritage and the local planning authority. Each room and external elevation had to be assessed in detail to establish its heritage significance. This enabled informed solutions to be identified and greatly simplified the preparation of the HIA for the scheme.

If you require any further information on Policy HE6, or on any other aspect of PPS5, please contact Mick Rawlings, the Historic Environment team leader, at the Oxford office.

Historic environment services are also available at the RPS P & D offices in Leeds and London (Cottons Centre).

1Tomkinson and Adam Axminster carpet factory, Kidderminster The original factory was built in 1852 by William Grosvenor.

RPS Welcomes Nautilus to the Group

10 March 2011

RPS Welcomes Nautilus to the Group

RPS is pleased to welcome Nautilus (Nautilus Ltd and Nautilus World Ltd) to the Group. The geoscience and engineering training company with offices in the UK and the US joined RPS Energy on 2nd March 2011.


Nautilus is one of the world’s leading providers of training services to the international oil and gas industry. The company is the founder and manager of the Geoscience Training Alliance (GTA) which has over 50 member oil and gas companies, and has been offering high-quality professional training to the oil and gas industry for over twelve years, delivering more than 300 training courses each year world-wide. Following the UK launch of the GTA, the company launched the Engineering Training Alliance (ETA), a programme of petroleum engineering classes, in 2007 and has also made initial in-roads into the South-East Asia market.

The courses address the training needs of individuals with a range of experience from graduate and support levels to expert professionals with many years’ experience. Training covers geology, geophysics, reservoir characterization & development, petrophysics, engineering and geochemistry. Courses include bespoke modules individually-developed to cater to clients’ specific training requirements. Classroom courses are held in North America, Europe, South-East Asia and Australia. To complement the classroom tutoring, Nautilus also runs a large number of field courses to enhance attendees’ awareness of the geological environment. These are delivered in the USA, Canada, France, UK, Spain, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa and Borneo.


Phil Williams, RPS Executive Director with responsibility for the Energy business, commented:

“The energy industry worldwide is experiencing a shortage of skilled professionals across most geoscience and engineering disciplines. The acquisition of Nautilus will enable RPS to take a lead role in providing the training services that are needed to help address this and to ensure that oil and gas operators and service company personnel have the skills that are needed. It will also provide an excellent source of in-house training for our own personnel. This business will sit alongside our existing consulting business, enabling RPS to provide a broader service to its clients.”

Underwater Kites

07 March 2011

Underwater Kites

RPS supports tidal energy device developer Minesto in development of new tidal device.

RPS is supporting Swedish tidal energy device developer Minesto in the development of the new Minesto tidal device. The acclaimed device has been named as one of the Top 50 Inventions of 2010 by Time magazine, and has received the Rushlight Marine and Hydro Award for Deep Green technology at the recent Rushlight Awards. RPS is providing the concept and detailed design of foundation structures and resource assessments for the tidal device.

See below Press Release for more details.

Underwater kites set to power all households
in city the size of Newcastle by 2020

Carbon Trust provides £350,000 grant for first seagoing trials of innovative tidal energy device.

Tidal energy device developer Minesto UK Ltd is receiving a grant of up to £350,000 from the Carbon Trust funded by Invest Northern Ireland to deploy the first seagoing prototype of its innovative seakite technology – “Deep Green”. The device works like a kite, tethered to the seabed, which flies through the sea current carrying a turbine.

If trials are successful, Minesto plans to deploy enough devices around the UK’s coastline to generate up to 530GWh a year by 2020, enough to power the annual electricity needs for all households in a city approximately the size of Newcastle.

The radically new concept can operate in slower currents than any other known tidal energy technology. Deep Green’s kite-like structure flies in a figure of eight, steered by a rudder, allowing it to effectively accelerate the speed of the water entering the turbine by up to ten times allowing more power to be generated leading to a step change reduction in the cost of tidal energy. The technology has the potential to unlock significant additional tidal resources by opening up whole new areas of low velocity tidal streams around the UK’s coastline to generate electricity.

The trial will see a one-tenth size version of the Deep Green device put through its paces off the coast of Northern Ireland.

Benj Sykes, Director of Innovations at the Carbon Trust, said: “The UK boasts some of the best tidal resources in the world and we are focussed on bringing down the cost of extracting that energy. Minesto’s Deep Green is a very exciting technology as it could provide a step change reduction in the cost of tidal energy and open up swathes of the UK‟s coast to generating electricity. Tidal energy has the potential to produce up to 18 terawatt hours of electricity, equivalent to over 5% of the UK’s electricity consumption.

Anders Jansson, Managing Director of Minesto, said: “The support from the Carbon Trust has really helped Minesto to accelerate its technical development and proves that the UK has large ambitions for its marine renewable programme.

Tracy Meharg, Managing Director Invest NI said: “Invest NI is delighted to see Minesto investing to develop its ongoing R&D plan in Northern Ireland. This investment serves to strengthen Invest NI’s aims and objectives to position this region as a leading renewable energy hub.

The Carbon Trust research and development grant will support Minesto in gaining site permits for installations, testing survivability in a real sea environment and also develop and verify a model for the cost of energy from the device. The Carbon Trust first supported the concept through its Marine Energy Accelerator programme. Minesto also works with experts and prominent researchers and engineers at Det Norske Veritas UK, GL Garrad Hassan, Global Maritime Alliance, Queens University in Belfast, RPS Group and Strathclyde University in Glasgow.

Minesto has also recently been recognised at the Rushlight Awards. The jury, consisting of independent experts in the field, judged Minesto to be the winner of the Rushlight Marine and Hydro Award for the Deep Green technology.

Notes to editors:
For further information/interview requests. For more information please contact the Carbon Trust press office: Tel no: 0207 544 3100 Email:

About the Carbon Trust
The Carbon Trust is a not-for-profit company with the mission to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy, providing specialist support to business and the public sector to help cut carbon emissions, save energy and commercialise low carbon technologies. By stimulating low carbon action we contribute to key UK goals of lower carbon emissions, the development of low carbon businesses, increased energy security and associated jobs. We help to cut carbon emissions now by: Providing specialist advice and finance to help organisations cut carbon; Setting standards for carbon reduction. We reduce potential future carbon emissions by: Opening markets for low carbon technologies, Leading industry collaborations to commercialise technologies, Investing in early stage low carbon companies.

RPS Welcomes EHI to the Group

03 March 2011

RPS Welcomes EHI to the Group

RPS is pleased to welcome Evans-Hamilton Incorporated (EHI) to the Group, a US-based oceanographic consulting firm with forty years of professional experience. Its five directors and 34 other staff also join RPS, effective from 18th February.

EHI has offices based in Seattle (Washington), Houston (Texas), Vicksburg (Mississippi), and Charleston (South Carolina). It provides oceanographic consulting and marine environmental measurement services, as well as carrying out environmental and coastal process studies and assisting clients with offshore environmental compliance.  It has similar technical capabilities and experience as MetOcean Engineers Pty Ltd (MetOcean), the business RPS acquired in August 2007, based in Perth, Western Australia.

The company provides professional services for marine projects to a wide range of clients including major oil companies, global contractors, engineering and environmental firms, meteorological and oceanographic equipment manufacturers, government agencies and leading research institutions.

Founded in 1971, EHI supports client operations across the east, gulf, and west coasts of the US and Alaska, as well as across the Americas, and is increasingly expanding its international reach –working in a wide variety of environmental climates. EHI specializes in delivering physical oceanography and applied marine instrumentation services –including advice, installation and maintenance of equipment, and conducting and managing meteorological condition research and environmental studies.

Past projects have included extensive measurement programs in deepwater for the oil and gas industry, including realtime measurement systems on offshore drillships and platforms, and deepwater moorings at future production locations. Coastal measurement and consulting projects have included numerous current, wave, water quality, and sediment transport studies for a wide variety of clients, including for LNG terminal sites, as well as for many industrial and municipal dischargers. Other projects have included upgrade and maintenance of NOAA’s west coast tide gages network, and the collection of new current measurements in Alaska and Hawaii to permit updating NOAA’s Tidal Prediction Tables. Measurement studies have been carried out throughout the US to measure and assess the impacts of facilities or harbour expansions on nearby marine and freshwater water bodies. Such studies include assessment of wave and current conditions for engineering design and facility operating conditions, as well as environmental impacts to water quality and sediment transport.

Other projects include dredging and sediment movement studies in Brunswick Harbor (Georgia), a wave and sediment movement study at the mouth of the Columbia River (Oregon) –where the shallow waters are belied by a powerful undertow; a tracer study to examine rapid sediment accumulation in the Atchafalaya Channel in Louisiana; and monitoring of current, wind and water properties including directional wave data over a one-year period to inform a shoreline change model for Chesapeake Bay (Virginia).

As a result of the number of severe global weather events in recent years, understanding and predicting oceanic conditions in respect of wind, waves, tides and currents is becoming increasingly valued by businesses with an interest in coastal assets, such as ports, harbours, LNG installations and offshore renewable energy facilities.  Those who explore for oil and gas and transport these products along with minerals and other industrial raw materials by ship also have an increasing interest in such information.  MetOcean has benefited significantly from such trends since joining RPS.  We envisage EHI doing the same, particularly when deep water drilling resumes in the Gulf of Mexico.