News Archive

Bristol Becomes European Green Capital 2015

30 January 2015

Bristol Becomes European Green Capital 2015


In December 2014, Bristol was officially handed the European Green Capital Award (EGCA) title for 2015 from the EU Commission. Bristol follows on from Copenhagen, the 2014 European Green Capital and plans to emphasise the importance of finding shared solutions to environmental challenges, with a programme focused on Learning, Innovation and Leadership.

Image: RPS
Brenda McEvoy, RPS Project Manager of EGCA Secretariat; Mayor of Bristol George Ferguson; Mr Nicholas Banfield, Director of Strategy, DG Environment - EU Commission; and PJ Rudden, RPS Director of EGCA Secretariat at the handover ceremony in December 2014 in Copenhagen.

Today more than two thirds of Europeans live in towns and cities. Urban areas concentrate most of the environmental challenges facing our society, but also can bring together commitment and innovation to resolve them.

Bristol impressed the Jury with its investment plans for transport and energy. Carbon emissions have consistently reduced in the city since 2005, despite a growing economy. Almost a fifth of residents walk to work and 90% live within 300m of parklands or waterways. The city's low carbon economy employs around 9,000 people and in 2014 it was named 'best place to live in the UK' by the Sunday Times.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said: “Citizens of Bristol should be very proud, and I congratulate them on winning the title of European Green Capital 2015. Bristol offers inspiration to other European cities that also want to evolve towards a greener future.”

Commissioner Vella also launched the European Green Leaf, a competition for smaller European cities that show a strong commitment to green growth and a sustainable urban environment. “Size isn't everything – especially when it comes to the environment. The Green Leaf is aimed at cities with 50,000 to 100,000 inhabitants, and more than 450 European cities can now apply. So many stories to share – make sure we hear them!” he said.

The European Green Leaf, aimed at cities with 50,000 to 100,000 inhabitants, will also be awarded on an annual basis by the European Commission. It will recognise commitment to better environmental outcomes, with a particular accent on efforts that generate green growth and new jobs. The competition is open for applications until 31 March 2015.

RPS has managed the European Green Capital Award (EGCA) project in technical, environmental and communications terms on behalf of the European Commission for the past four years, including appointment and management of the independent expert panel. During that period, Vitoria Gasteiz (2012), Nantes (2013), Copenhagen (2014) and now Bristol have been holders of the Award. Ljubljana will hold the European Green Capital Award in 2016.

For more information on Bristol as European Green Capital 2015 or the new European Green Leaf competition, visit

RPS Leads the UK Environmental Consultancy Market

27 January 2015

RPS Leads the UK Environmental Consultancy Market


We are number one on the Top 34 list compiled by market analysts1. RPS leads the Top 34 of the UK Environmental Consultancy market – a high-profile group of leading consultancies whose revenue accounts for more than two-thirds of total market revenues. The market has seen year on year growth increases of 1.9%, 3.1% and 5.6% consecutively between 2011 and 2013.

Around 14% of the Top 34's revenue from last available FY figures (FY2013/14) relates to projects and/or clients outside of the UK with a 5.8% increase in revenue from regulated industries – led especially by the oil & gas and nuclear sectors.

Image: RPS

The top five firms in the Top 34 ranking account for almost 22.5% of the market. Land and water management makes up above half of the overall revenue for the Top 34 – more than 17% of which is environmental impact assessment (EIA) and sustainable development, nearly 15% is land remediation and contaminated land management, over 10% is ecology and landscape consultancy and 12% is water quality and resource management. Overall, the environmental consultancy sector is closing in on surpassing its 2008 sector peak of £1.56bn.

As well as an increase in new development, there is an increasing trend in residential conversion from other existing buildings, aided by recent Government incentives.

“The past 18 months has seen mergers between many of our competitors as they vie for market position yet RPS remains at the forefront” says RPS Technical Director Henry Bonham who specialises in environmental management “Growth has in particular been seen in housebuilding extending across the UK providing work streams for a wide range of our services and RPS is already in position to play leading environmental roles on some of the most significant of the national infrastructure projects such as Gatwick Airport expansion and key motorway projects such as M4 and M8.”

“Over the past year or so, RPS has experienced an uplift in EIA and planning work for major housebuilders, including those with historical masterplans which are now being remodelled to meet current market demands” explains planning professional RPS Senior Director David Thomson “The Government-backed 'Garden Cities' initiative also provides significant opportunities for RPS in the future, whilst the emergence of Private Rental Sector (PRS) market together with the rapid increase in residential tall buildings in City centres such as London, is helping to fuel the demand for our integrated planning, environmental and sustainability services.”

1 UK Market Assessment Final Data report compiled by Environment Analyst Dec. 2014.

RPS Response Confirms Asbestos Safety After Major Dutch Blaze

15 January 2015

RPS Response Confirms Asbestos Safety After Major Dutch Blaze


RPS has been able to speed up the process of reliable asbestos analysis in the Netherlands with the deployment of the mobile electron microscope (SEM / EDX) – recently completing analysis in less than 24 hours for businesses in the centre of Roermond, Limburg following the major blaze at Het Steel marina that destroyed two boat sheds and dozens of yachts occurring around 2200h on December 16th. The structural fabric of the boat sheds contained asbestos: fibres of which were released and spread by the wind across the centre of Roermond.

Image: RPS Netherlands

The area was transformed into a ghost town as it was shut down during investigations and clean-up operations. Downtown shops and schools were closed, and several thousand local residents were quarantined – having to go through decontamination procedures before leaving the affected area. Trains could not stop at the city and the main access roads were closed. Asbestos inspectors from RPS carried out the risk assessment on a Thursday night, and the analysis was complete – confirming that the buildings were asbestos free – the next day.

RPS analysed the air and adhesive samples that were taken on the Friday on location, inside a van with a sensitive mobile electron microscope in the protected area: allowing the inspectors and ultimately the client fast access to the analysis results. The client lost minimal business hours and was able to open the premises to the public again during that day. The causes of the fire remain uncertain at time of press.

Asbestos was widely-used in the mid twentieth-century until the 1990s due to its excellent fire retardant and insulating qualities – notably in internal and external building cladding, ceiling tiles, insulation, ventilation flues, fire doors and soffit boards. Short or long-term sustained exposure to asbestos fibres can present serious long-term health hazards. Mesothelioma (arising from sustained exposure to toxic fibres such as asbestos) is noted as the single largest cause of work-related fatalities in the developed world. However, provided that materials containing asbestos are not damaged, structures that incorporate asbestos in their fabric do not pose a risk.

The Round Rock Watershed Modelling Review, Texas

09 January 2015

The Round Rock Watershed Modelling Review, Texas


RPS recently contracted with the City of Round Rock, Texas to conduct a detailed review of Upper Brushy Creek (UBC) watershed hydrologic and hydraulic models recently prepared by the UBC Water Improvement District.

One of the drop structures that will be redesigned and reconstructed as a natural rock drop structure as a part of the ongoing Kensington-Windy Preliminary Engineering project. Image: Paul Morales , RPS

These models and the associated mapping will be used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in developing up-to-date Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRM) within the UBC watershed. The review covered approximately 162 square miles of contributing drainage area and 46 miles of stream that were respectively modeled with the hydrologic model, HEC-HMS, and the hydraulic model, HEC-RAS, with a majority of the watershed located within the City’s Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ). RPS’ review ensured the study results are as accurate as possible by focusing on the modeling methods and techniques used and assessing 11 NRCS Dams and other stormwater infrastructure within the watershed. The final FEMA models and related maps will assist the City in the determination of local flooding impacts as well as help determine stormwater Capital Improvement Project needs and the solutions required.

As a direct result of the areas identified as being flood prone by the UBC watershed study, RPS was selected to prepare a Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) targeting flooding concerns along two Dry Branch Tributaries. The length of stream being studied totals 8,700 linear feet and involves a detailed flooding evaluation as well as a determination of viable channel conveyance and stability solutions. The various solution options being investigated by RPS will be developed with holistic watershed considerations in mind. A combination of solutions will target the reduction of flood overtoppings at road crossings, improvements to local storm sewers, retrofits for detention pond facilities, repairs for failing concrete drop structures, as well as needed conveyance and stability improvements within channel reaches. Channel stability improvements will include natural rock drop structures and riparian vegetation to stabilize ongoing bed incision and bank erosion within the project reaches. By utilizing the most appropriate natural channel design techniques within this highly urbanized creek, the creek will be restored and stabilized with local water quality enhanced. Following selection of the recommended solutions, RPS will then assist the City with the design and construction phases of the project improvements.