News Archive

RPS Delivers Masterclass on Infrastructure Planning Applications

26 February 2015

RPS Delivers Masterclass on Infrastructure Planning Applications


On 10th-11th February Pinsent Masons Offices in London was the venue for Waterfront’s annual ‘Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) Applications Master Class 2015’. The event, sponsored by RPS and CgMs, provided in-depth guidance to 190 delegates from a wide range of companies developing UK infrastructure on how to apply for development consent orders using the Planning Act 2008. Across the two days, all the processes and key requirements were considered through detailed presentations and case studies on each stage leading to the grant of approval for a nationally significant infrastructure project.

David Cowan, Managing Director for Planning and Environment at RPS, and Simone Wilding, Head of National Infrastructure Case Management at the Planning Inspectorate, delivered the first session of the event which comprised an overview of the current issues in the consents regime and an update on changes being made this year to the application process. David communicated RPS’ in depth knowledge of the regime as a highly skilled practitioner, speaking from experience. He provided an insightful overview into how well the current regime is working, including a useful analysis of timescales, emerging trends and key issues. Using comparisons of the current NSIP regime with previous consent processes and other alternatives still in use, he concluded that the current regime was working well in terms of delivering consents as well as being more open, transparent and fair and identified some areas where further improvements could be made. He also gave his thoughts on the future of the current process following the General Election in May. On Day Two, David was also able to give a helpful perspective on the objectives of the Preliminary Environmental Information stage from his involvement in consultations on the original drafting of the current regime and regulations in 2009.

The first day continued to focus on the current and proposed changes to the Development Consent Order process, preparation of an application and different sectors’ experience of the application and Examination process. The second day focussed on a range of case studies on the co-ordination of the Environmental Impact Assessment for NSIPs and the preparation for the Examination stage and hearings.

Over the two days a number of speakers from a variety of sectors presented to the delegates from infrastructure providers, scheme promoters, local government, statutory consultees, law firms and consultants. The presentations highlighted the importance of early pre-application engagement with all stakeholders and the requirement for the scheme promoter to provide a concise application that responds to all issues raised through the consultation stages and during the examination. One of the most important matters covered included the challenge of altering an application after it has been submitted and how to build a degree of flexibility into the proposal to manage the tension between commercial requirements and certainty. Robbie Owen of Pinsent Masons gave a particularly useful presentation on this point and former IPC/PINS Inspector Jan Bessell, now also of Pinsent Masons, gave an insight to the Examining Authority’s perspective.

David Cowan has worked on a total of eight NSIPs at all stages of preparation since the current regime was established under the Planning Act 2008. He is currently advising SMartWind on the Hornsea offshore wind farm DCOs and Gatwick Airport Ltd (who were also in attendance at the conference, as were Heathrow) on their proposal for a second runway, which is currently the subject of the Airports Commission consultation.

The event was attended by project promoters including Scottish Power, Vattenfall, EoN, Tidal Lagoon Power, the HA, Network Rail, TfL, National Grid, Gaelectric, Horizon Nuclear Power, Western Power and Wheelabrator and it was therefore an excellent opportunity for RPS/CgMs to sponsor the event which brought a number of industry professionals together.

RPS staff involved in promoting DCO applications are happy to share their experience and lessons learned with project promoters and those thinking of promoting projects. If you would like to hear more contact David Cowan: +44 (0) 1235 821 888; or marked FAO: David Cowan reference DCO Applications to:

Guernsey Airport Highly Commended at Industry Awards

17 February 2015

Guernsey Airport Highly Commended at Industry Awards


RPS' Guernsey Airport Rehabilitation Project was ‘Highly Commended’ in the “International Project of the Year” category at the recent British Construction Industry (BCI) Awards.

The BCI Awards are the longest standing, most rigorously judged and highly prized in the UK construction industry celebrating construction and engineering excellence across the globe. Now in its 27th year, the Awards Evening held at the Grosvenor Hotel in London on the 8th October 2014, was the most notable to date, attended by more than 1200 of the industry elite. RPS was represented by Jonathan Green, the Project Director for the scheme. Also attending was Guernsey Airport’s Director, Colin Le Ray and members from the contractor: Lagan Construction.

The project’s recognition by the industry and the awards judges, in conjunction with the New Civil Engineer and the Institution of Civil Engineers, further strengthens the team’s achievements in dealing appropriately with the complexities involved in the safe and timely delivery of the significant improvements to the airport. This has without doubt secured the integrity of the island’s lifeline for many years to come.

Colin Le Ray (Airport Director) stated “The fact that the project was shortlisted for an international award is something the project team and the island can be justifiably proud of. Ours was a complex, high profile project and has been delivered to the very best of our ability. The team we have worked with, from designer to contractor, have worked very hard to make this project a success and we are certain this is one of the reasons why we were shortlisted for this prestigious award.Aside from the obvious improvements that the reconstruction of the airport has provided for the island, the fact that we were Highly Commended in this national awards ceremony has reflected the significance of what we have achieved.”

Apart from the 18 category winners only seven projects were Highly Commended and the Guernsey project was the only one in its category to receive this. In the International category five projects were shortlisted and the worthy winner was the Sindh Water Sector Improvement Project in Pakistan. The other shortlisted projects comprised the Etihad Airways Training Extension in Abu Dhabi; the Perez Art Museum in Miami and the Siemens Middle East Headquarters.

The RPS team who designed, supervised and project managed the scheme are delighted by this accolade.

London City Airport Given Green Light for Expansion

10 February 2015

London City Airport Given Green Light for Expansion


On Tuesday 3rd February the London Borough of Newham (LBN) resolved to grant planning permission for the £200m City Airport Development Programme (CADP) in the Royal Docks, East London - a project in which RPS has been integrally involved for several years.

The proposals comprise the eastern and western extension of the terminal building, an 800m double height passenger pier, seven new aircraft stands and a parallel taxiway, a reconfigured and enlarged forecourt, car parks, a hotel, energy centre and other landside facilities. The stands and taxiway are to be built on a 7.5ha concrete deck over the adjoining King George V Dock.

This expansion of the airport will generate an additional £0.75bn GVA per year to the local and regional economy, create 1500 new jobs and see a doubling in passengers by 2023. The new infrastructure will also enable the airport to service a projected 50% increase in flights in the next six years (to 111,000 ATMs by 2021) as well as to accommodate the introduction of a new generation of Code C aircraft which are quieter and more fuel efficient.

As the lead environmental consultants on the project, RPS coordinated the EIA, health impact and sustainability assessments supporting the planning application. In addition, our specialist technical teams completed the impact assessments for ecology & biodiversity, flood risk, heritage, townscape & visual effects, lighting, contamination and waste; as well as drafting the project specific Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) and BREEAM assessment.

RPS’ Project Director David Thomson commented:

“We are delighted that London City Airport has obtained approval for its future expansion and modernisation programme. It has been a hard won consent, with the CADP proposals and supporting assessments being subject to an unprecedented level of scrutiny over a period of 18 months since the planning application was submitted. In particular, the Environmental Statement, Health Impact Assessment and supporting addendums produced by RPS have been thoroughly vetted by the London Borough of Newham and the Greater London Authority, their own consultants and legal advisors, the statutory authorities, members of the public and a plethora of interest groups. I am pleased to say that the EIA process and all other aspects of our work for the Airport have been found to be technically and legally robust.”

Revised visualisation of the completed CADP as seen from the south-west at lower level.