News Archive

Launch of Ireland’s Three New Regional Waste Management Plans

25 June 2015

Launch of Ireland’s Three New Regional Waste Management Plans


Ireland's three new Regional Waste Management Plans were published recently, covering the new Eastern-Midlands, Connacht-Ulster and Southern Regions for the period 2015 – 2021.

At the launch of the Southern Region Plan, left to right: PJ Rudden (RPS), Micheál Spillane (RPS), Philippa King (Regional Waste Coordinator, Southern Region), Warren Phelan (RPS), Pauline McDonagh (Waste Prevention Coordinator, Southern Region), Carol Sweetnam (Executive Scientist, Southern Region) and Margaret Murphy (Regional Waste Minimisation Advisor, Southern Region).

In 2012, National Waste Policy reduced the number of waste regions in the Republic of Ireland from ten to three. The plans published this week, the third generation of waste plans for the state, are the first to reflect this new structure.

Since early 2014, RPS has been assisting and supporting all of the local authorities across the three regions in the preparation of the Regional Waste Management Plans. We have also completed Strategic Environmental Assessments and Appropriate Assessments for each of the plans.

The strategic vision of these regional waste plans is to rethink our approach to managing wastes, by viewing our waste streams as valuable material resources that can contribute to a healthier environment and sustainable commercial opportunities for our economy. They strive to improve the recovery and generation of energy by maximising the resource value and the energy embodied in our waste materials. They promote a move to a circular economy, in which we make better use of our resources.

Key overall targets for all of the plans include eliminating unprocessed residual waste going to landfill from next year, increasing municipal recycling rates to 50% by 2020 and to reduce the amount of household waste generated by 1% each year over the six years of the plans. Each of the plans underwent extensive public consultation during their development; they have been informed and shaped by the people and stakeholders in the regions.

The regional waste plans were formally made by the Chief Executives of each local authority on May 12th, with implementation to span six years. The treatment infrastructure required represents a potential investment of €500 million over the period.

RPS' involvement in the preparation of these new generation waste management plans continues our long association with waste planning in Ireland since the first regional plans were published in the late 1990s.

Tackling Global Sustainable Development Head-On

15 June 2015

Tackling Global Sustainable Development Head-On


The task for addressing global sustainable development is enormous, implying the need for a major international overhaul of infrastructure. The legacy of widespread non-sustainable infrastructure must be tackled head-on with a set guidance and more sustainable processes, systems and technologies. As last year revealed the highest ever recorded increase in CO2 releases there is significant pressure to respond and to push new development projects beyond the limits of conventional technology to achieve a higher performance.

Santiago de Chile

RPS Director of International Environmental Affairs Dr. Ike van der Putte is a founding-member of FIDIC's Sustainable Development Committee, and former chair of its Environmental Committee as well as a former chair of the UN Environmental Program Sustainable Buildings and Construction Initiative (SBCI). Ike delivered two exceptionally well received presentations on project sustainability to leading representatives from multinational development banks at the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) Multi-lateral Development Bank Conference in Brussels recently.

Dr. Ike van der Putte

Some of Ike's most notable successes have been projects leading the Environmental Management Plans for the City of Colombo in Sri Lanka and for the City of Santiago in Chile– the plans successfully addressed matters concerning effective sustainable water and wastewater management and air quality management respectively.

Ike presented on FIDIC's Project Sustainability Management System setting out innovative ways to incorporate sustainable development principles into individual projects; and the Critical Importance of Sustainability in Developing Procurement Strategies – examining general trend in resource consumption and climate change and application of sustainable/green public procurement initiatives – illustrated with a case description of Green Public Procurement applied to wastewater infrastructure projects. The innovative thinking and approaches in PSM and sustainable procurement are also incorporated in the training courses for National Engineering Associations implemented by Ike van der Putte as an accredited FIDIC trainer in Jordan, Ireland and South-Korea with a new series of courses being started in China (2014-2015), and preparations being made for the African continent.

'You may also be interested in this in our news section: Common Carbon Metric(30th August 2011).'

Coastal Retreat – RPS Environmental Paper Wins CIWEM Award

11 June 2015

Coastal Retreat – RPS Environmental Paper Wins CIWEM Award

Significant erosion of the dune system at Portrane, Co. Dublin, Ireland after storm event in 2014.

An RPS Graduate Scientist's paper on coastal erosion at Portrane, Co. Dublin in Ireland has recently won a Northern Ireland CIWEM Young Members award.

At present approximately 20% of Ireland's coastline is subjected to continuous coastal erosion, this will be exacerbated by future climate whereby the mean sea level is expected to increase by up to 0.66m by 2100. The effects of erosion are generally negative with the obvious consequence being the loss of land and the associated loss of infrastructure such as roads and urban residential areas as well as the loss of natural environments.

Due to human influence, principally urbanisation and various economic activities in coastal regions, coastal erosion has turned into a problem of increasing intensity. It is estimated that globally at least 100 million people live within one metre of mean sea level and are at increased risk of coastal erosion [Zhanj, 2004i].

To develop the most appropriate erosion management strategy, policy makers use a technique synonymous with the Scenario Based Stakeholder Engagement procedure [Tompkins, 2007ii]. This procedure brings together the technical assessment of the coastal erosion threat and the opinions of key stakeholders in order to identify preferential management strategies. The feasibility of the identified strategy is then objectively assessed based on relevant criteria such as technical feasibility, economic feasibility and crucially environmental acceptability. Policy makers are therefore tasked with making difficult decisions to ensure that any proposed policy is economically viable, technically effective and environmentally acceptable.

This extract (above) is a part of the 2015 CIWEM Northern Ireland Region New Water and Environmental Managers winning paper written by RPS Graduate Scientist Kristopher Calder representing part of a larger investigation carried out by RPS.

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) adopted the theme of, ‘Working to Protect the Environment - Making Difficult Decisions‘ for the 2015 competition. Kristopher, who specialises in coastal process modelling, submitted and presented a paper entitled ‘Managing the Threat of Coastal Erosion at Portrane, Co. Dublin’. The paper addresses some of the difficulties presented to policy makers who are tasked with implementing effective and socially just erosion management strategies. It also highlighted the emerging trend of conflict between local councils and residents who take action into their own hands.

Up to 10 private residential properties along the shoreline of Portrane, County Dublin could be lost to coastal erosion by 2100 if climate change continues as predicted by the International Panel on Climate Change. This was among the findings of an RPS study assessing the Coastal Processes at Portrane, County Dublin.

Erosion at Portrane is a particularly salient issue as the environmental constraints associated with the designation of much of the area as European protected habitat prevents the construction of hard engineering solutions, which would effectively mitigate the threat of erosion. With an estimated 20 - 25% of Ireland's coastline considered to be in a state of continuous retreat, and much of this designated European habitat this is not an issue unique to Portrane.

The judging panel for this CIWEM competition, comprised of three senior CIWEM members, awarded Kristopher first position in the annual competition. Kristopher is the second person from RPS Belfast to win the acclaimed Young Member's Competition, after Francis Mackin who won the competition in 2012.

i Zhang, K., Douglas, B. C., & Leatherman, S. P. (2004). Global Warming and Coastal Erosion. Climatic Change. 64(1-2); pp. 41-58.

ii Tompkins, E. L., Few, R., & Brown, K. (2008). Scenario-based stakeholder engagement: incorporating stakeholders preferences into coastal planning for climate change. Journal of environmental management. 88(4); pp.1580-1592.

Heritage Consultancy Significant to Recovering Pace of Development

04 June 2015

Heritage Consultancy Significant to Recovering Pace of Development

The remains of the 1793 Clydach Gorge Ironworks near the A465 Heads of the Valleys road is a major part of the Gorge's Scheduled Ancient Monuments. The Blaenavon Industrial Landscape World Heritage Site is also nearby. Photo: Remains of Clydach Gorge Ironworks. for SO2213 © Copyright David Lewis and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Following our acquisition of British planning and historic environment consultant CgMs on 11th August 2014, RPS has the UK's largest team of specialist heritage consultants with considerable experience in almost all aspects of planning and development. Complementing our existing teams of expert professionals, the expansion boosts our capability to advise on a number of high-profile projects and continue to respond effectively to the renewed increase in demand for a complex multidisciplinary consultancy service package tailored and delivered by one provider.

“Heritage was one of the planning world's hottest subjects in 2014 and remains high as a material planning consideration” says RPS CgMs' Jason Clemons “A number of court and appeal decisions have resulted in decision makers giving particular attention to the potential impact of development proposals upon the setting of heritage assets, most notably listed buildings. Two principal development sectors affected are large scale residential schemes and renewable energy proposals. This raising of the heritage profile has had a general knock-on effect on any proposal that could potentially harm the setting or significance of a heritage asset.”

Recent RPS successes have included winning a proposal at Planning Inquiry for 160 dwellings in Sussex for Barratts where a principal issue was its impact upon a listed farm, and the south Wales A465 Heads of the Valleys project: within a National Park, almost wholly within a designated Landscape of Outstanding Historic Interest and within the setting of a World Heritage Site; for which RPS produced all necessary heritage documentation through the consenting process including a Public Inquiry.

“In a recovering economy there is often a need to progress development schemes through the planning process as quickly as possible” RPS' Mick Rawlings explains “This can be driven by national government ambitions to ‘front-load’ recovery through funding new schemes such as housing and infrastructure. In this situation it is crucial that private and public sector developers have access to high-quality heritage consultancy. Heritage can be a very emotive subject as developers go through the various stages of consultation that are now routine for major schemes.”

The former Burns-Philp building in Sydney's Bridge Street. RPS carried out heritage assessments and secured approvals for Rockpool restaurant's relocation and restoration of this State Heritage Listed 1903 former shipping hall. Photo: “BurnsPhilp” by Clytemnestra (UTC) - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Heritage consultancy has remained in high demand in Australia where RPS has advised on archaeological and heritage matters for a number of large-scale projects – both for planning and for energy development including several centred around Sydney's busy CBD. These include European heritage assessment for the proposed Western Sydney Airport; archaeological works prior to major amenity improvements around the Tank Stream; and the Aboriginal and European heritage assessment prior to the redevelopment of Westmead Hospital.

“In 2008/9, with the Australian economy heading for recession, the federal government announced economic stimulus packages worth $52.4bn, including a $26bn infrastructure program” says RPS' Erin Williams “China's insatiable demand for ore and coal resulted in Australia's mining boom that, combined with the infrastructure spend, ensured positive growth through the worst of the global conditions.

This saw unprecedented demand for heritage consultants. In a field where traditional employment opportunities were few and generally public sector, demand for consultants outstripped supply. Small consultancies mushroomed, targeting the remote mining sector while established consultancies underwent rapid expansion as they scrambled to maintain market share.

Subsequent decline in ore and coal prices has resulted in substantial rationalisation in the volume of heritage work. The lessons learned from the GFC stressed the importance of maintaining a work balance across several markets, with a mix of public and private sector clients. Our heritage team has established a strong pipeline of infrastructure projects, supplemented by urban growth and mining work. Our recent work on the Pacific Highway Upgrade in northern New South Wales, one of the State's largest road infrastructure projects is indicative of our growing local reputation in this field. By maintaining position as premier heritage consultants we ensure sustainable and profitable growth into the future.”