Archived News

    Aviation Fuelling Hazardous Area Classification

    14 August 2017

    Aviation Fuelling Hazardous Area Classification

    Image: Refuelling a commercial plane.

    The Energy Institute Research Report on Aviation Fuelling Hazardous Area Classification is now available on the EI website. RPS Principal Consultant Steve Sherwen, RPS Consultant Andrew Garrison and RPS Principal Consultant Jon Lowe from RPS Risk (Environmental Management) prepared the report last year after Steve, a member of the EI Area Classification Working Group was approached by the EI to bid to develop an authoritative hazardous area classification for aviation fuelling with Jet A-1. The scope of the task included to propose internationally acceptable direct examples intended to assist those involved in aviation fuel handling.

    After winning the competitive bid process the RPS team undertook a literature review of all stakeholder documentation pertaining to aviation jet fuelling before meeting with stakeholders at Manchester Airport to review the findings where further additional practical information was gathered. The team visited the fuelling vehicle compound to get a more hands-on insight into the vehicles, equipment and safeguards and also witness the refuelling of an aircraft.

    Modern aircraft burn around four litres of jet aviation fuel every second: requiring around 150,000 litres for a ten-hour flight. Jet A-1 is the most common fuel for commercial airlines and is considered to be explosive under certain conditions, hence why it is so good at propelling around six tons of aircraft down the runway and getting it airborne. Around 3.6bn passengers were expected to travel by air last year. Fuelling these flights is a significant part of the downstream oil business and ensuring its safety is a critical duty for fuel providers as much as for airlines.

    As the jet fuel is potentially explosive, areas where it is handled must comply with the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmosphere Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) in the UK, ATEX in Europe and with similar regulations enforced in the rest of the world. These regulations place a requirement on users of dangerous or flammable substances, to control ignition sources where there is the potential for a flammable atmosphere to arise. Such an assessment is called a Hazardous Area Classification (HAC). Findings during the literature review revealed there are a number of different Hazardous Area Classifications around the aircraft during fuelling operations. These operations usually utilise either a refuelling tanker or a hydrant dispensing system built into the apron.

    Through a well-coordinated combination of desktop reviews and activity observations the team was able to gain a greater understanding of associated hazards and potential release scenarios surrounding aircraft refuelling activity. From there, Andrew was then able to grapple the considerable task of collating all the information gathered through research and observations into initial credible and practical advice which was presented to the EI Aviation Committee at a meeting in Prague. The EI then sought and collated industry expert comments on the initial findings to be incorporated into the final Research Report produced by RPS.

    The report was published in July 2017 acknowledging: “This EI Research Report was prepared by Andrew Garrison and Steve Sherwen of RPS Risk Management who are thanked for their significant contributions on this topic.” The hope is that this report will be used worldwide by operators and designers to ensure that aircraft refuelling operations are carried out in a safe manner, without incurring overly high costs or prohibitive restrictions.

    Haulbowline Island East Tip Remediation Works to Commence

    10 August 2017

    Haulbowline Island East Tip Remediation Works to Commence

    The transformation of the East Tip, Haulbowline Island, Cork into a new Recreational Park Amenity has reached a significant project milestone. The contract for the East Tip Remediation Works was signed on Monday 10th July. This contract appoints a consortium led by PJ Hegarty & Sons Ltd to complete the works over an 18 month works programme.

    Haulbowline Island was the location of Ireland’s only steelworks which operated between 1939 and 2001. From the early 1960s, waste from the steel production process was deposited on an area of reclaimed foreshore, which became known as the ‘East Tip’. The East Tip is predominantly comprised of stockpiles of waste slag and mill scale throughout the 9 hectare site. The overall Haubowline Island Remediation Project represents a €61m investment by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, through their agent Cork County Council.

    Photomontage of proposed Haulbowline Island Recreational Park

    RPS has played a pivotal role in the progression of the project which initially included the preparation of an EIS, waste licence application and planning application for the remediation of East Tip. Remedial works began in 2014 with the repair of the bridges to the island and the upgrading of the access road. Most recently, RPS has managed the advance works contracts (including demolition, site clearance and preparatory works) and the procurement process for the main remediation works. The main remediation works, to be completed under an NEC form of contract, will deliver an innovative and sustainable design solution through re-profiling of the site, construction of a perimeter engineered structure around the East Tip and installation of engineered capping and surface water drainage systems.

    Speaking at the signing of the contract, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D said ‘I am very pleased to be here today for the contract signing for these crucial works to remediate the East Tip site at Haulbowline Island. This phase of works marks the start of a significant period of construction activity on the island and a major step towards the transformation of the East Tip into a great asset for the communities and other stakeholders located around Cork Harbour and beyond.’

    Triple Apex as RPS Summits for Hospital

    02 August 2017

    Triple Apex as RPS Summits for Hospital


    RPS team in National Three Peaks Challenge to raise money for Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

    A volunteer RPS team from our Birmingham office recently braved the National Three Peaks Challenge in aid of the Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity (Charity Registration No. 1160875). On 1st July 2017, the team successfully scaled each of the three highest peaks within England, Scotland and Wales in 24 hours:

    Ben Nevis, in Scotland (1345m)

    Scafell Pike, in England (978m)

    Snowdon, in Wales (1085m)

    About to ascend Ben Nevis (from left to right): Anthony Cox, Danielle Sims, David Bond, Ashleigh Ghaleb, Chris Milne, Cameron Austin-Fell, Tom Ayres, Dan Floyd (Cundall).

    RPS’ Birmingham office in particular has chosen to support the hospital through a number of charity events over the years including a water speed boat day and a short jaunt(!) up Kilimanjaro. The charity provides excellent and inspiring support for the hospital and its patients, and we are proud to be able to support the hospital and its development.

    ‘Our team set off from Birmingham on the Saturday morning for the 7 ½ hour drive to the Scottish Highlands to begin the challenge at Ben Nevis at 5:00pm’ recounts team leader Anthony Cox ‘The weather at Nevis was initially good but the rain set in and didn’t stop until we began to descend from the summit around 8:00pm. The team arrived at Scafell Pike in England’s picturesque Lake District National Park before sunrise and began scaling the 978m in the dark using head torches. Finally after around 6:30am the team summited in a thick blanket of cloud. The going was tough as it was very rocky and required a lot of scrambling and by this time our calves and knees were starting to feel sore.’

    ‘The team managed to get back to the foot again in one piece and we climbed back into the minibus to begin the final leg of the Challenge with the journey to Snowdon, where the weather promised to be good. We arrived after a five hour drive and started to ascend Snowdon via the Pyg Track, finally attaining the summit with around three hours to spare giving us some welcome time to enjoy the sunshine and enjoy a well-earned cup of tea! We made our descent via the Miners Track and finished the challenge in 23 hours and 15 minutes: exhausted but triumphant!’

    So far the team has raised around £1500.00 for the Children’s Hospital via Anthony’s online fundraising page and cash sponsorship donations. A special thank you to Mikrofill Systems Ltd of Worcestershire who very kindly paid for the minibus hire to ensure we could reach the mountains within the time-limit.

    This fund raising effort builds further upon a long standing professional and charitable relationship between RPS and Birmingham Children’s hospital which has most notably included the design of the CIAT Award winning paediatric burns unit providing a new face for the existing hospital with an extended inpatient education facility, replacement neonatal surgery unit and a suite of state-of-the-art burns care facilities. Its landmark exterior is designed to utilise playful ‘elements’ and colours, and maximise a feeling of light to echo its context and engage young patients.

    Ascending Ben Nevis (a), Summit of Ben Nevis (b), Scafell Pike (c,d)
    A465: Two Million Hours Plus and No Reportable Accidents

    26 July 2017

    A465: Two Million Hours Plus and No Reportable Accidents

    The continuing project to dual Section 2 of the A465 Heads of the Valleys for the Welsh Government has now passed over two million hours without a reportable accident. It is rare for such a largescale and complex construction project to be able to report anything like these hours without a reportable accident and is testament to the excellent working practice of all involved on this ECI contract awarded to and led by Costain.

    Section 2 duals 8.1km of some 40km of the A465 connecting Swansea and the M4 to the A40/ M50 route to the Midlands. It includes the construction of14 major structures, 12.5km of retaining structures and 1.2million m3 of earthworks in the extremely narrow and rocky Clydach Gorge with the river running alongside, whilst maintaining two-way traffic flows. The site is in the Brecon Beacons National Park and Usk Bats Sites SAC/SSSI and includes 4 sheduled monuments. RPS are responsible for the environmental design and assessment and provided specialist experts across a range of disciplines for the successful public inquiry in 2014. RPS are now providing detailed environmental design, site environmental co-ordination, species management and site monitoring support for the construction works which commenced in 2015.

    Costain Plc Board Chairman Dr. Paul Golby recently congratulated all the project partners on the announcement of such a fantastic achievement.

    More details on the A465 Dualling of the Heads of the Valleys

    RPS Industry Conference Looks at Wastewater Innovation

    25 July 2017

    RPS Industry Conference Looks at Wastewater Innovation

    On Thursday 29th June, leading environmental and engineering consultancy RPS, hosted a one day conference engaging senior wastewater managers from across the water industry and representatives from UK water companies. To meet the challenges of climate change and a growing population, the industry needs to continue to make the most of its capital and operational investment. For sewer networks to be fit for the 21st Century and rid the country of the misery of flooding from sewers and pollution of the environment, it will be necessary to continue to develop integrated strategies that make the most of the data and funding available. Making better use of the information that we have is key along with developing a holistic understanding of the sewerage networks, which will enable the industry to improve interaction with its customers.



    RPS held a one-day conference at Birmingham’s Austin Court on Thursday 29th June looking at the key challenges facing the water industry and giving an opportunity for free-flowing discussion on the future of the UK’s sewer networks. As our climate changes and populations increase, our sewerage systems are coming under increasing pressure to accommodate greater and more intense flow volumes, whilst dealing with an ever-aging network of pipes and pumping stations that require continual maintenance or replacement.

    It is not widely known outside the world of water companies that the UK Water Industry deploys sophisticated software, skilled engineers and technicians and advanced technologies in order to keep our sewerage systems operating effectively.

    The delegates took part in interactive and engaging workshops facilitated by RPS experts to debate a variety of key topics. They were unanimous in the view that if we are to overcome the challenges of climate change and population growth, whilst meeting the expectations of water regulator, Ofwat to transform customer service, then we need to continue to invest in improving the understanding of network performance through a balance of modelling, asset management and intelligently targeted monitoring technology. This will enable us to intervene in sewerage failures before flooding and pollution and occurs. One theme of the day was that we are “data rich but information poor” and there was a consensus that we should make better use of asset data we have and share it better, particularly with customers. Collaboration and partnership was another theme with delegates calling for a more integrated approach to delivery from water companies, regulators, councils and highway authorities.

    The key message from the seminar was that if water companies invest wisely in installing monitoring technology, guided by modelling and asset management approaches to install them at the optimum points of the network, and invest in the skills to analyse the data received, then they will reap rewards in AMP7, not only in terms of optimised investment, but transforming customer service and business reputation. This approach should be a core component of the PR19 planning process.

    Design Selection Confirms Landscape Endeavour a Great Success

    24 July 2017

    Design Selection Confirms Landscape Endeavour a Great Success

    Landscape Institute to use RPS’ design for Endeavour School in industry marketing.

    RPS is delighted to have the eye catching image of one of our education projects selected out of a nationwide competition by the Landscape Institute to form the feature image on their upcoming marketing campaign to promote the landscape architecture profession.

    We strive to create innovative and inspiring environments across all sectors so it is a real honour to have one of our schemes recognised by the industry body that represents us to encourage other people to consider Landscape Architecture as a career and to provide future landscapes for all of us to enjoy.

    The Landscape Institute is the national recognised body representing all landscape professionals from the areas of planning, design and management and includes those from both arts and science based academia. The institute wishes to promote the wide scope of the profession with images that portray the varied aspects that landscape encompasses.

    The selected image of Endeavour School, Hampshire delivered by our Southampton office will be used across a range of materials at industry events and exhibitions to promote the institute and the work of the profession. The image represents the central courtyard of a brand new primary school which needed to look good all year round and from all angles and offer maximum flexibility. The design for this flagship new school focused on a series of organic shapes with varying undulations of artificial grass mounds and core ten steel edging with a grid of Ornamental Pear trees to provide vertical and seasonal interest.

    The courtyard required the collaboration of all involved in the project to deliver this ambitious scheme as part of the new wider external environment which included hard play, natural and artificial sports facilities, wetland and nature area and outdoor classrooms. The sinuous edging for the mounds was pre-formed at the factory from digital drawings to ensure ease of installation and deliver the smooth curves required with all materials and trees craned in due to the isolated nature of the courtyard.

    The project went on to win a RIBA Award and Civic Trust Award. The project was designed by RPS in collaboration with Hampshire County Council as part of our ongoing framework contract with them.

    RPS' Ground Engineering Highly Commended

    17 July 2017

    RPS' Ground Engineering Highly Commended

    We received a ‘Highly Commended Award’ in the category ‘Ground Investigation Specialist of the Year, 2017’ at the industry leading Ground Engineering Awards, 2017 for our work on the HS2 Ground Investigation project. The awards were made after a Gala Dinner at the London Park Lane Hilton on Wednesday 5th July.

    In the award announcement the judges made the following comments on the RPS Ground Investigation team: –

    ‘The depth and breadth of technical services and their management and delivery really impressed the judges. They demonstrated exemplary performance in data management of large volumes of complex information, delivered in the particular format required by the client’.

    The event was attended by our HS2 Project Director – Mike Barker, Environment & Infrastructure Managing Director – Andy Clifton and members of the RPS HS2 team together with a number of our guests. RPS was also a finalist for the Ground Investigation Project with a Geotechnical Value of over £500k category.

    Since 2015 RPS has been working on 12 ground investigation packages worth over £4.5 million that were secured through the four year, HS2 Ground Investigation Framework, which, at an estimated total value of £40 million, is the largest ground investigation ever undertaken in the UK. We have secured our 13th package of work at Euston Station in London and RPS has been by far the most successful contractor on the framework.

    To date our team have excavated 487 exploratory holes involving 4.3km of drilling, 164 trial pits, 19 highway cores, 45 CPT’s, nearly 1000m of downhole geophysical logging and over 5500 Geotechnical tests. To help deliver the packages of work, over 50 staff from seven different RPS offices have contributed to the project over the last two years.

    EU Construction & Demolition Waste Management Protocol Event

    13 July 2017

    EU Construction & Demolition Waste Management Protocol Event

    RPS Technical Director Warren Phelan spoke at the recent European Commission event on the publication of the new EU Construction & Demolition Waste (CDW) Management Protocol. The event was organised by DG Grow and held in the European Commission Offices in Dublin.

    He discussed the ‘Current Position and Challenges in the Construction and Demolition Industry in Ireland’ and spoke about the radical change in the construction industry during his time which saw unprecedented growth and then a severe recession for the country and the sector and recovery in recent years. The profile of construction and demolition waste arising mirrored the market during this period, reaching highs of almost 18 million tonnes in 2007 and falling to 3 million tonnes by 2012.

    Based on volume, construction and demolition (C&D) waste is the largest waste stream in the EU. Proper management of C&D waste and recycled materials (including the correct handling of hazardous waste) can have major benefits in terms of sustainability. It can also provide major benefits for the EU construction and recycling industry, as it boosts demand for C&D recycled materials. A large proportion (over 80%) of C&D waste is recyclable but the average recovery rate for the EU28 is below 50%.

    Warren’s presentation touched on the vulnerabilities around the management of CDW which currently exist in Ireland. In the last 12 months the early closure of two facilities in the Greater Dublin Area left building & civil contractors with no outlet for significant quantities of soil wastes. Thousands of tonnes of processed recycled aggregates are unable to be used in the market due to a lack of ‘end of waste’ criteria from the EU. Such barriers must be addressed if a viable recycling industry in the market is to take hold.

    In his synopsis Warren called for a National CDW Plan to be put in place to co-ordinate the many policy measures, regulatory requirements and initiatives and provide the sector with clear direction.

    Summary of the Protocol:

    To turn the challenge of CDW into an economic, environmental and social opportunity, experts from the industry and the European Commission have drawn up the ‘EU Construction and Waste Demolition Protocol’.

    The overall aim of this Protocol is to increase confidence in the C&D waste management process and trust in the quality of C&D recycled materials. This will be achieved by:

    Improved waste identification, source separation and collection

    Improved waste logistics

    Improved waste processing

    Quality management

    Appropriate policy and framework conditions

    RPS Helps Telehouse North Two to Win at DSC Awards

    13 July 2017

    RPS Helps Telehouse North Two to Win at DSC Awards

    RPS is proud to announce that Telehouse North Two has won the Data Centre Solutions (DCS) Award 2017 for Data Centre Energy Efficiency Project of the Year.

    Located in the Docklands, East London, the project involved the design and construction of an 11-storey, Tier 3 Data Centre facility, bringing 23,134 sq m of floor space, and taking the Telehouse Docklands campus footprint to a total of 71,584 sq m, as well as its overall London presence to 73,395 sq m. Built with the ‘New Internet’ in mind, the centre is designed to house mission-critical infrastructure, enabling the development of hybrid services for customers.

    The facility was developed to include landlord’s services and systems, provision of shell and core technical services space for a future phased fit-out, fitting-out of two Data Halls, alterations to the existing North Data Centre Control Room building, as well as a new link bridge and associated external works. One of the Data Halls has been fitted out to 50% power and cooling capacity, and the other to 100% power and cooling capacity.

    As well as cost consultancy and project management services, RPS provided campus strategy advice and technical coordination of the consultant and Telehouse teams.

    Virtual Reality Site Visit for Mayor Touring Upgrades at Ballycastle Waste Water Plant

    28 June 2017

    Virtual Reality Site Visit for Mayor Touring Upgrades at Ballycastle Waste Water Plant

    Design images of the WwTW; and RPS' Ben Adair guides Mayor Joan Baird through her VR walkthrough of the project.

    The town of Ballycastle is located on the north easterly tip of County Antrim in Northern Ireland, and lies within the Moyle district.

    Ballycastle is used by many visitors to Northern Ireland as an ideal base for exploring the nearby sights and famous landmarks such as, the Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills Distillery and the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge – each located less than 10 miles away from the Town Centre.

    The original Waste Water Treatment Works (WwTW) was built in the town of Ballycastle in the 1980’s with a subsequent upgrade in 1997 to include an inlet works and screening to the site. Currently the site is undergoing upgrading and refurbishment to bring the site into line with current Environmental, Health & Safety Standards and the UWWTD, Bathing Water Regulations – all as part of Northern Ireland Waters Strategic Objectives.

    The current WwTW which is situated to the rear of the Causeway and Glens Borough Council offices treats an estimated loading of 11,822 PE (Population Equivalent) in the summer period and 8,032 PE during the winter months.

    As part of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) standards, secondary treatment is required for populations greater than 10,000 PE, the current WwTWs could not make the requirements as set out by the NIEA and work started onsite April 2016.

    RPS’ involvement with the Ballycastle site comes from the successful relationship which RPS has developed during the Professional Services Frameworks (IF010 & IF011) which expires in 2017. Earlier this year, RPS Belfast successfully tendered and was confirmed as a successful supplier for the new Northern Ireland Water Professional Services Framework (IF180), which will see RPS continuing to provide engineering consultancy services for NI Water’s capital works programme until May 2021.

    The £5m upgrade to Ballycastle is due to complete next summer (2018), and during a recent visit by the Mayor and Councillor Mrs Joan Baird to see the progress, the Mayor was invited by NI Water and RPS to take a Virtual Reality Tour of the site from the comfort of the Council Chambers.

    Ballycastle was one of the first pilot projects that RPS Belfast undertook as part of its Virtual Reality Innovation studies into the use of the technology in November 2016 with the model being updated in April 2017 to reflect changes onsite.

    The current Ballycastle WwTW model while easy to navigate was built to retain all the Building Information Modelling associated within the project. The Mayor took full advantage of the system to navigate the site, and asked Ben Adair (RPS’ Site Supervisor and Assistant Project Manager) a multitude of questions in relation to the progress. However, while the Mayor used it to navigate, it was the NI Water Operatives and Project Managers that could see real benefits and potential due to the asset (BIM) information stored within the 3D environment.

    The Mayor stated ‘that the use of the VR Headset and Model had given her a better understanding of how the completed project would look and a better appreciation of what she would be looking at while out on the actual site later that day’. After a short 30-second introduction to the system, Mrs Baird found the system very easy to use and technology that she would certainly use again.

    RPS is continuing to prove, that whether it’s within an office environment or in a Council Chamber the use of VR technology can bring added value to many of our projects whilst promoting collaboration.

    For more information on RPS’ work at Ballycastle WwTW contact:

    For more information on RPS’ Virtual Reality and Innovation contact:

    Learning to Embrace Uncertainty as the New Norm: RPS Europe CEO Trevor Hoyle Chairs EA Summit 2017

    27 June 2017

    Learning to Embrace Uncertainty as the New Norm: RPS Europe CEO Trevor Hoyle Chairs EA Summit 2017

    "Learning to embrace uncertainty as the new norm" was the crux of RPS Europe CEO Trevor Hoyle’s opening address as co-chair at Environment Analyst’s Third Business Summit held in London last week.

    Over 90 delegates attended the event from more than 50 businesses spanning a global and market breadth across environmental consultancy and management. Large international organisations met with independent SMEs to explore challenges and opportunities posed by the unique political, industrial and public climate that the world’s population is now experiencing. In the environmental sector, public sentiment is pushing forward despite political distractions. Market opinions of yesteryear, where the need was to court clients and consumers to adopt measures to meet environmental standards, have been turned on their heads as the challenge becomes that of keeping up with the will of the consumer world as it pushes back against austerity measures set against a general backdrop of mistrust. By no means is the current climate one that is easy to navigate and the event provided the opportunity for professional networking to explore the issues.

    Trevor opened the event with an overview of the principal challenges facing our world today, including population growth; climate change; increasing demands for water, food and energy; water contamination; air pollution and deforestation. The address was centred on the need to meet the demands of our ever-increasing world population with the equivalent of a new Germany being created every year.

    The session was also co-chaired by Peter Skinner, EMIA CEO from AECOM and represented by speakers including Dr. Hisham Mahmood, Golder Associates’ President and CEO; Matthew Farrow, Environmental Industries Commission Executive Director and Julian Rose, Environmental Analyst Managing Director. Key themes throughout the day were government:public relations in the UK and USA, the need to foster and nurture trust, changes in focus for the UK’s environmental bodies throughout and after the process of leaving the EU, private sector growth and environmental due diligence, the importance of diversification in business development, professional activity and recruitment, a growing focus on smart cities and the need to not only keep pace with technology but to also set its pace with creative analytics and complex innovative design.

    Industry representatives speaking at the event represented Anglian Water, Costain, Heathrow Airport, Transport for London, IBM, Royal HaskoningDHV, BP; Crossrail and Anthesis Group. Government representatives included the Environment Agency and the Crown Estate.

    EA article:

    RPS Named Water Training Organisation of 2017

    21 June 2017

    RPS Named Water Training Organisation of 2017

    RPS Training Support Manager Fergie Black receiving the award from CABWI Chief Operating Officer Mr. Paul Byrne.

    RPS Water were the proud recipients of an award from the Certification and Assessment Board for the Water Industry (CABWI) for Water Training Organisation of the year 2017. The award was presented at the Institute of Water’s annual National President’s Dinner and Awards ceremony at Manchester Cathedral on the 14 June 2017.

    The award was presented by Mr Paul Byrne, Chief Operating Officer for CABWI awarding body and presented to Fergus Black, RPS Training Support Manager who attended the ceremony on behalf of RPS Water. It recognises a training provider that consistently delivers top level training to an exceptional standard and achieves consistently excellent results.

    Prior to making the award Mr Byrne said “In making this award CABWI is recognising a training organisation that shows a commitment to providing the very highest level of quality training and assessment provision.

    Tonight’s winner is no exception and devotes whatever time is necessary to ensuring that their workforce gain the knowledge and skills necessary to perform their job roles with the upmost dedication and efficiency. These skills are further recognised by the learners undertaking and achieving Ofqual Regulated Vocational Qualifications. I am proud to present this award to the training department of RPS Water”.

    RPS Training Support Manager, Fergus explains:-

    “Workplace training culminating in the awarding of a recognised industry wide vocational qualification through CABWI, was identified by RPS Water as an excellent opportunity to expand both the knowledge base and skills of all our field staff. To date 450 staff have completed various qualifications in leakage at both QCF levels 2 and 3. Due to these being site base qualifications costs have been kept to a minimum. However, despite the potential drawbacks, training and development is able to provide both individual employees and the company as a whole with benefits that can make the time and money spent a worthwhile investment.

    As well as our employees feeling valued the other benefits from this training includes improved performance, increased consistency, employee satisfaction and happy clients. Access to training structured training and development programme ensures that all employees have a consistent experience and consistent knowledge of tasks and procedures, something which is particularly important when it comes to basic company policies and procedures.”

    The CABWI website notes that ‘in making the award CABWI recognises a training organisation that shows a commitment to providing the very highest level of quality training and assessment. The training division of RPS Water is no exception and devotes whatever time is necessary to ensuring that their workforce gain the knowledge and skills necessary to perform their job roles with the upmost dedication and efficiency. These skills are further recognised by the learners undertaking and achieving Ofqual Regulated Vocational Qualifications.’

    RPS advises Baird Capital during its successful corporate acquisition

    07 June 2017

    RPS advises Baird Capital during its successful corporate acquisition

    RPS provides value-added Environmental and Health & Safety risk management and engineering services to financial and strategic buyers, portfolio managers, and industrial clients, as well as to lawyers, lenders and other interested parties.

    With a large specialist team in London and support from numerous offices around the UK, the team focuses on transactional due diligence and the risk assessment of associated liabilities. We then help resolve and manage such issues after a transaction closes.

    Last month, RPS provided Environmental, Health & Safety (E,H&S) due diligence advice to Baird Capital, during its successful corporate acquisition of CAV Ice Protection and CAV Advanced Technologies (CAV).

    Headquartered in the United Kingdom, CAV’s proprietary Ice Protection systems provide a solution to a critical safety challenge across numerous segments of the aerospace market. CAV is also a technology and manufacturing partner to major commercial OEMs for hybrid laminar flow control (HLFC) drag reduction systems, which increase fuel efficiency.

    Through detailed on-site inspections, discussions with relevant CAV personnel, desk studies and consultations with regulatory bodies, RPS assessed the material Environmental and H&S issues at the five facilities relevant to the transaction.

    The results of our due diligence review were delivered in an easy to use reporting format, within the deal timetable and will form the basis of the plan to manage E,H&S at the company going forwards.

    “We rely on RPS to review the sites of all new industrial business we acquire. They provide comfort that all key environmental issues have been addressed, this is critical from a liability perspective but also for ESG compliance within our portfolio. In addition, the RPS reports feed directly into our 100 day plans to improve the health & safety management systems of our businesses.” - Baird Capital.

    Ireland Flood Risk Management Plans Near Completion

    05 June 2017

    Ireland Flood Risk Management Plans Near Completion

    RPS has entered the final stage of the Eastern, South Eastern and the North Western – Neagh Bann Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Studies [add link: ].

    The Office of Public Works (OPW) state that the CFRAM Studies "are without precedent in their scale and complexity in Ireland. They have involved probably the largest ever survey programme, the detailed hydraulic modelling of around 6,500km of river and 90 coastal communities, and the preparation of about 40,000 flood maps".

    RPS’ CFRAM Study team is currently completing the final Flood Risk Management Plans (FRMPs), which are required to implement the EU Floods Directive. The Office of Public Works (OPW) has outlined the importance of the plans in providing "a major step forward in helping the Irish Government make informed investment decisions".

    The final plans will be submitted for approval by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) and subsequently for council adoption. Local Authorities are preparing to procure support to implement the measures set out in the Plans, which will provide safety and protection to many thousands of homes and businesses, and prevent billions of euros’ of flood damage in the future

    World Environment Day 2017

    05 June 2017

    World Environment Day 2017

    Each year World Environment Day is organised around a particular theme designed to focus the worlds’ attention on a particularly pressing environmental issue, this year the theme is ‘connecting people to nature’ inviting people around the world to get outdoors and amongst nature to appreciate its beauty and importance. This year’s host country is Canada which will form the centre of the global celebrations.

    Started in 1974 World Environment Day takes place on June 5th and is the United Nations most important annual event for promoting worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment. We all intimately depend on the environment to survive and the quality of it directly affects our quality of life from the air we breadth, to the food we eat to the street we live on. By doing our bit and being mindful of the daily decisions we make we can all contribute to conserving and protecting the environment and prevent its harm and gradual decline.

    Mindfulness is a particularly topical issue as people are encouraged to become more aware of our being and everyday experiences, appreciating every situation whether positive or negative by being in the moment. Our relationship with the environment is at the centre of mindfulness as we appreciate our surroundings and consider our existence on the planet.

    Studies have shown that by having access to nature the benefits are wide spread with improvements in both physical and mental health, social well-being and sense of community. Green spaces offer many far reaching environmental benefits, in particular in our towns and cities, helping to improve air quality, offering shade and shelter, lowering temperatures, reducing flooding and contributing to controlling climate change. They offer invaluable habitats for flora and fauna to exist and thrive helping to sustain delicate ecosystems.

    Good design is central to ensuring people have access to quality open space within our increasingly urban existence and this underpins the role of Landscape Architects in managing the complex, and often competing, demands to ensure we meet these challenges.

    Not everyone has access to rolling countryside and miles of unspoilt coastline but by simply getting out into your nearest park or garden and appreciating the quality of the space and the benefits it offers and the species its supports you can connect with nature and foster World Environment Day.

    International Hazards 27: RPS Lectures on Fire Analysis

    31 May 2017

    International Hazards 27: RPS Lectures on Fire Analysis

    James Daley (above) and Mark Gallagher (below) at International Hazards 27.

    RPS Attends IChemE International Hazards 27 for knowledge sharing and networking in fire analysis, and Formula 1 safety.

    A team of RPS Risk Management experts, namely Andrew Garrison, Jon Lowe and James Daley, recently attended the IChemE International Hazards 27 event held at the Birmingham ICC this month where James also presented his paper on Safety System Fire Analysis.

    James’ very popular lecture (click here for abstract) was successfully delivered to a near-full capacity room of risk management and engineering professionals. His presentation attracted considerable interest in its academic content from clients and insurance professionals, including a representative from Swiss Re who was very interested in the fire loading sensitivity analysis studies that RPS Risk can undertake, and how these studies can assist their assessments in relation to insurance premiums by providing data on the potential size and severity of a fire, and thus the endurance required of walls, columns, doors and other parts of an enclosing fire compartment.

    Amongst the other technical lectures, of which numerous sessions ran simultaneously throughout the very intensive event, Andrew, James and Jon were fortunate to be able to attend the Trevor Kletz Hazards Lecture examining reduction of fatalities in Formula One racing. The lecture, entitled ‘The Race to Zero – the Drive to Eliminate Fatalities and Injuries in the High Risk Environment of Formula 1’ was delivered by motor racing professional Mark Gallagher – MD for CMS Motor Sport Ltd and co-owner of Status Grand Prix. His long career experiencei has provided him with first hand understanding of the pressures to win in motor sports and involved working closely with many key Formula 1 engineers and drivers.

    The talk included many examples of process safety failures and none more prominent than the high-profile losses of Ayrton Senna and Jules Bianchi. The F1 management team, led by Bernie Ecclestone took the recognition of the danger in motor sports extremely seriously following Senna’s death and started to truly push to achieve something much closer to the consumer focused indicator for safety performance of Zero driver fatalities. This was a key performance indicator but it was obviously not the only focus for the change to be undertaken. A surprising statistic presented was that Formula 1 viewing TV figures actually increased by 60% after Ayrton Senna’s death. Which can be interpreted in many ways but illustrates high risk sports hold a public perception of genuine danger but with that an excitement of risk-taking that is safely at arm’s length from the viewer. Although we have not worked directly for Formula 1 we do work in equally challenging environments where controlling the level of risk to a tolerable level in the context of workers and society is central to our expertise. We are currently involved with a major fertiliser manufacturer, who operates two top tier COMAH facilities in the UK, to assistance them with setting consistent and appropriate risk criteria to be used in their functional safety assessments and fire and explosion assessment within the scope of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR). We are keen to swap our visits to industrial high hazard process plants with Monaco in the future!

    James has one last outing planned for this year at the Nuclear Power – Fire & Risk Colloquium at Bangor University between the 17-19th October 2017 [add link:]. For further information please contact Jon Lowe or James Daley.

    i Including senior management roles within Jordan Grand Prix, Red Bull Racing and Cosworth prior to CMS Motor Sport.

    EIA Regulations 2017: Town & Country Planning

    30 May 2017

    EIA Regulations 2017: Town & Country Planning

    Updated EIA Regulations came into force across the UK on 16th May, implementing the 2014 changes to the European EIA Directive.

    Updates are now in place across each of the planning regimes in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as the Infrastructure Planning EIA Regulations for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects. The key amendments to the Regulations involve more front-loading of the EIA process in the early stages, with the intention of fewer EIAs overall and more proportionate assessment. The changes however, will see increased responsibility and pressures on planning authorities, which is likely to come at the expense of the developer.

    Here we take a look at the updates made to the Town and Country Planning EIA Regulations and answer some key questions as to what these changes may mean for you.

    RPS is a sector leader in the coordination of complex EIAs and can offer a dedicated team of competent experts to assist you in co-ordination of your EIA. We are a founder member of IEMA and an accredited Quality Mark member.

    If you would like to find out more about how you could specifically be affected by updates to EIA legislation across the UK, please either speak to your existing RPS contact or get in touch with your nearest EIA office location:

    London: David Thomson / Howard Waples
    Oxford: Peter Ireland / Amy Robinson
    Bristol: Darren Parker
    Birmingham: Tim Partridge
    Leeds: Andy Stevenson
    Edinburgh: Andrew Walters / Michael Fenny
    Northern Ireland: Ray Holbeach / Seamus Fay

    RPS Presents at CIWM Panel Debate on Waste and Resources After Brexit

    25 May 2017

    RPS Presents at CIWM Panel Debate on Waste and Resources After Brexit

    RPS Senior Engineer Debbie Nesbitt recently travelled to Leicester with a delegation from CIWM Northern Ireland to debate ‘Waste and Resources after Brexit’ during CIWM’s two-day New Member Network’s National Event.

    The panel debate was chaired by CIWM’s Chief Executive, Dr. Colin Church and all UK countries were represented.

    Debbie set the Northern Ireland scene by explaining the current situation in Northern Ireland with waste arisings on the increase; recycling and composting rates flat-lining; and the energy recovery rate increasing. Given the size of Northern Ireland, the land border with the Republic of Ireland and the established cooperation and action within the island of Ireland, Debbie advocated for Northern Ireland to continue to make the case for a circular economy.

    Rebecca Colley-Jones, Director of Ynys Resources Ltd, representing Wales talked about the unintended consequences of the Brexit vote in Wales but had a positive outlook due to the forward thinking nature of the Welsh Assembly and the Environment Bill.

    Sarah-Jane Widdowson from Ricardo Energy & Environment talked about how the legislative framework in England has been a key driver for performance and also raised questions in relation to the implications of Breixt on materials and people working in the waste industry.

    Sam Grant, Director of Schuster Engineering and representing Scotland, spoke about the uncertainty the industry will face to in terms of the currency value on exports. He believed Brexit offers an opportunity to develop treatment and processing facilities in the UK.

    Irrespective of Brexit the panel agreed that there remains a compelling argument for our policy makers to proceed with a programme at least as challenging as the EU Circular economy package, not only for economic benefits but also for social and environmental benefits. Brexit offers scope for the waste and resources sector in the UK to improve our resource efficiency and become more self-sufficient.

    Debbie sits on the CIWM Northern Ireland Centre Council and is currently the New Member Network Coordinator for the region. Her attendance at this event was funded by CIWM.


    RPS Occupational Hygienist Awarded Leading Industry Prize

    18 May 2017

    RPS Occupational Hygienist Awarded Leading Industry Prize

    Erik van Deurssen receives Thomas Bedford Memorial Prize for research into construction quartz exposure.

    RPS Occupational Hygienist Erik van Deurssen has received the Thomas Bedford Memorial Prizei in recognition of the outstanding quality of his PhD research paper examining paths for the reduction of exposure to quartz dust in construction works: ‘Effectiveness of a multidimensional randomized control intervention to reduce quartz exposure among construction workers’.

    Erik, from RPS’ Breda Laboratory, accepted the prize on behalf of himself and his co-authors from Karen Bufton, President of the British Occupational Hygiene Society, a sister association of the Dutch Association for Labour Hygiene (NVvA), at a ceremony on 26th April in Harrogate, Yorkshire.

    Quartz, or silica, is a naturally occurring common mineral often found in soil, sand and rock, and ergo in construction materials such as concrete and masonry. Cutting the materials releases minute particles of quartz dust, significant exposure to which can lead to respiratory damage and lung disease. Despite more raised awareness, levels of working exposure often still exceed current limit values. Worker exposure on construction sites must be kept at or below an Occuaptional Exposure Limit (OEL)ii , in accordance with national regulation.

    Erik proposed a multidisciplinary intervention model developed from extensive consultation with construction workers and employers, and with industry associations and umbrella organisations including the Dutch labour inspectorate to test the feasibility of the intervention. He carried out site visits between 2010 and 2015 examining Health & Safety policies and risk procedures and conducting over 300 personal exposure measurements from construction staff. Participants also completed a strategically designed questionnaire to give insight into awareness of quartz dust and its associated exposure risks, and perceptions and attitudes towards the risks before attending plenary information sessions where they were shown a documentary produced in coordination with an expert lung physician to highlight risk perception of exposure.

    The multi-faceted approach notably raised the profile of the risk and the participating companies fed back that they were giving more priority to minimising exposure to quartz dust as a result of the intervention.

    “The reduction of exposure is largely due to more frequent and effective use of available management measures. At the end of the intervention, it became clear that the participating companies would give more priority to employees’ health and safety when working with quartz dust exposure, says Erik “From evaluation of participating construction workers and managers of companies, it appears that the content of the intervention is well connected to practice, and that successful translation of theory into practice was an important goal of the research. It has resulted very positively in intentions to focus more on reducing exposure and improving management safety measures and shown that employees are more aware of the health risks and safer working measures that they can take themselves.”

    Although many recipients of the prize work in the academic world, Erik consciously sought a private sector career to have a more hands-on relationship with his field of study. “For the future I want to continue to acquire and apply my knowledge and experience to improving the workplace, and to advise and encourage clients to create a safe and healthy work environment. Gaining the interest and response from busy staff is a major task, but crucial to forming positive change and has given me valuable insights to benefit my professional role."

    "He has shown in an excellent way what preconditions are necessary for the successful implementation of intervention studies in the field of occupational hygiene to reduce exposure to hazardous substances," said Karen Bufton at the ceremony. "This is a beautiful confirmation that my research is also being internationally appreciated" Erik acknowledged.

    Erik van Deurssen receives the Thomas Bedford Memorial Prize from Karen Bufton of the British Occupational Hygiene Society.
    Occupational hygienist Erik van Deurssen of RPS talks about his PhD research, which focuses on reducing exposure to quartz dust in the construction industry.

    i The Thomas Hobbs Memorial Prize is named in honour of the British Occupational Hygiene Society’s first president. The Society’s Council awards the prize to the author(s) of the most outstanding paper published in The Annals of Occupational Hygiene over a two year period, as recommended by the Editor in Chief.

    ii The figure is calculated as an average over an eight-hour working day. Many countries have moved to reduce workplace exposure limit to 0.05 mg/m3 maximum. In the US and Canada it varies by state, British Columbia and some other states in Canada – 0.025 mg/m3; - in Ireland, Italy, Finland and Portugal – 0.05 mg/m3; - in the Netherlands – 0.075 mg/m3; - in Britain – 0.1 mg/m3; - in Poland – 0.3 mg/m3.Figures from Institute of Safety and Health, UK

    Award winning Landscape Architecture

    11 May 2017

    Award winning Landscape Architecture

    RPS was recently awarded the title of ‘Best Landscape Architecture Services Provider – UK & Ireland’ in the BUILD magazine 2017 Landscape & Gardening Awards.

    RPS secured the award after an extensive research selection process by Build magazine which looked at projects worked on and client testimonials, amongst other things.

    The 2017 Landscaping and Gardening Awards claim to pay homage to those from all corners of the industry, from design to those who create and provide the materials, and those who work to maintain the impeccable landscapes and gardens.

    Kaven Cooper, Awards Coordinator for Build Magazine, said: “These awards showcase both the individuals and firms across the landscaping and gardening sectors who have achieved phenomenal success through their work. I would just like to congratulate them all on their success and wish them the best of fortunes going forward.”

    Published monthly, BUILD magazine aims to provide the latest updates from across the global construction and property industries.

    As part of the awards package, we have published a four-page editorial in the winners supplement magazine which has been a great opportunity to showcase our Landscape Architecture capability as well as promoting the wider RPS group. Available to read here.

    RPS Ecologist Receives National Japanese Knotweed Award

    11 May 2017

    RPS Ecologist Receives National Japanese Knotweed Award


    (Left to right) Paul Kent of award sponser Stallard Kane, Peter Watson of RPS and Stephen Hodgson, Chief Executive of the Property Care Association
    Award image courtesy of Property Care Association

    Japanese knotweed close-up - the pen helps give a scale to the leaf size.


    Japanese knotweed damage to a building. Japanese knotweed images: Peter Watson


    RPS Ecologist Pete Watson has received the Property Care Association’s (PCA) Japanese Knotweed Technician Student of the Year award at the annual PCA Awards Dinner held at the University of Warwick in Coventry, UK on May 4th, recognising his achieving the highest scores in training last year.

    Pete completed PCA Qualified Technician (PCAQT) – Japanese Knotweed last year, building on his Certificated Surveyor of Japanese Knotweed (CSJK) status, and training in NPTC Safe Use of Pesticides for applied herbicide control of pest plants. He has recently contributed technical notes on Schedule 9 invasive species: Purple Dew Plant and Hottentot Fig for the PCA control reference document to be published later this year.

    “As an ecologist I have been involved in the management and control of invasive species such as Japanese Knotweed, Giant Hogweed and Himalayan Balsam for nearly five years, with invasive species occupying over half of my working time” says Pete “I conduct site assessments, provide recommendations and management plans, control options, biosecurity advice, clerk of works services for excavation and removal/burial, and implement herbicide control plans.”

    Non-native invasive species (NNIS) do not occur naturally in Great Britain, but have been introduced and subsequently become established. They are agents of change and can cause economic and/or ecological damage, costing the UK economy an estimated £2bn+ each year, through control expenditure and impacts including agriculture impacts, amenity impacts, and flooding severity. Some Schedule 9 invasive species, notably Japanese Knotweed, Giant Hogweed and Himalayan Balsam can significantly affect property value and land development and impede sales as owners are obliged to take the necessary steps to ensure they are eradicated. Due to these negative impacts and associated legislative requirements it is important to integrate their control and management into property management and development.

    The PCA promotes high standards of professionalism and expertise within the industry through training and other support services. It helps consumers to identify specialist contractors and consultants to provide effective services which can help control and eradicate invasive plant species. As part of its commitment to maintaining its PCA membership, staff from the office undergo regular training, and audits and continually strive to improve still further. “To provide clients with confidence we are managing invasive species appropriately and to best practice guidelines we ensure we have full training and experience to meet the job required” explains Pete “My training for controlling plants has been specifically developed with the focus on invasive species and Japanese Knotweed in particular.”

    RPS, and in particular its Cambridge office, provides a fully integrated service for identifying and dealing with invasive species, and is a significant contributor to the development of invasive species management, policy and guidance in the UK.

    Asbestos in Soil: RPS advises on new CIRIA-produced guide.

    09 May 2017

    Asbestos in Soil: RPS advises on new CIRIA-produced guide. Suneson

    RPS has advised on new guidance aimed to help site workers identify asbestos in soils and know what to do if it is found during brownfield site redevelopment. Produced by CIRIA, the guide is entitled ‘Asbestos in soil and made ground practice site guide’.


    As more land owners, contractors and developers have become more aware of their liabilities and responsibilities associated with asbestos in soils there has been a growing need for clear guidance, from site clearance and land remediation design and planning through to the practical advice to site workers.

    Materials containing asbestos can be present in any building built or refurbished before the year 2000. Consequently, asbestos in soils is a potential hazard on any twentieth century built site or land where building materials have been stored or disposed, including construction wastes and demolition debris. When asbestos fibres are broken down, buried and smeared with soil they become very difficult to distinguish to the untrained eye, therefore it is essential that site workers are trained to identify asbestos, or the risk of, as it is first discovered.

    Existing regulations apply to all work with asbestos including asbestos contaminated soils and these set minimum standards for the protection of employees from risks related to exposure to asbestos. Compliance with such regulations is therefore required when undertaking work on all such sites, including work on soil and construction and demolition materials. However, in the past guidance has commonly focused on working within buildings.

    CIRIA and CL:AIRE both produced industry guidance on the application of CAR 2012 to soils and construction and demolition materials. However, despite this it was still felt that basic asbestos awareness with knowledge of management and control measures may not be adequate for companies with workers involved with demolition, site clearance and excavations on sites with the potential for asbestos contaminated soils to exist.

    In response to the above, CIRIA initiated a research project to provide practical guidance addressing the issue of encountering asbestos in soils during site redevelopment. RPS sponsored and advised on its development as part of a steering group also including the HSE, the Chartered Institution of Environmental Health and other relevant parties.

    Drawing upon our extensive experience in site characterisation, remediation and ground engineering, RPS contributed throughout the production process. Our contribution has included: confirming the objectives and defining the scope and method for the project; advising on the existence of other potentially conflicting works; advising on other organisations which could be approached to contribute to the technical content; reviewing drafts and agreeing the final structure, format and layout of the final publication.

    Available to download here (for subscription holders), this new guide is a crucial addition to the information tool kit for safely managing expected and unexpected finds of asbestos on development sites.

    For more information on what the guide includes, click here

    Trevor M Hoyle, CEO - Europe at RPS, announced as morning Chairperson for Environment Analyst summit

    03 May 2017

    Trevor M Hoyle, CEO - Europe at RPS, announced as morning Chairperson for Environment Analyst summit

    Trevor M Hoyle, CEO - Europe at RPS, has confirmed he will be speaking at the Environment Analyst summit, acting as the morning Chairperson.

    The summit is aimed specifically at business leaders and executives within the environmental consulting and management sector. Highly focused on the specific issues affecting the sector, this unique, one-day event, brings together senior-level speakers from environmental consulting firms, government/regulatory bodies, business analysts, contractors and client organisations.

    Speakers will provide the latest thinking and insight into key issues, including: the state of the UK environmental consultancy market; managing the environmental impacts of complex infrastructure; international drivers, opportunities and policy outlook as well as looking to future priorities.

    In addition to presenting on a relevant industry topic or challenge (to be confirmed closer to the time of the summit), as Chairperson, Trevor will open the summit, introduce each speaker and facilitate Q&A.

    Trevor commented:

    "RPS is delighted to be taking part in this event, which proves to be both informative and valuable to attendees. I look forward to speaking and chairing on the day and to meeting friends and colleagues throughout the industry".

    RPS will also be hosting a stand at the event, and we welcome all attendees to stop by for an informal discussion.

    The summit is taking place on the 21st June, at the Holiday Inn, Kensington, London. More details can be found on their website.

    Rare Principio Pig Above Farm Oven

    13 April 2017

    Rare Principio Pig Above Farm Oven

    The unique mystery of an almost 300-year old ‘pig’ spotted in a farmhouse.

    Grade II Listed Steart Farm, Bucks Cross, Bideford, Devon, UK. The farm and land were most recently used for a caravan and camping site. The site will now be home to a new school.
    Cloam oven in farmhouse at Steart Farm. Note the lintel (supporting beam above oven alcove) is actually an ‘iron pig’.
    The ‘iron pig’ in situ as the cloam oven lintel (image rotated).
    An example of a 19th Century red-brick dressing by Mark Rolle on the farm estate. One-time High Sheriff of Devon and a prolific builder, Rolle was the largest landholder in Devon with over 55,000 acres.
    Natterer’s bat. Image: Keith Cohen, RPS.
    Anguis-fragilis (slow worm). Jean-Claude Berens

    When is a pig not in a sty? RPS’ Historic Environment team from Oxford, UK had an exciting surprise when appointed to advise on the heritage of a Devon farmhouse unusually featuring a built-in Iron Pig!

    The Grade II Listed Steart Farm at Buck’s Cross, near Bideford, retains the traditional cob wall structure and the clay cloam oven inset into an end wall that is a characteristic feature of rural homes in the area, but the lintel of the cloam oven was less typical: it was an upside-down cast iron ingot stamped ‘PRINCIPIO * 1727’. This fitted with the finding of the Level 4 Recordi comprehensive historic analysis of the building that had dated the building to the late 17th/early 18th Centuryii, but was not the stone lintel that would be expected in this area.

    The United Kingdom of Great Britainiii was successfully engaged in several international wars during the first quarter of the 18th Century including the lengthy Great Northern War (1700-21) and the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14)iv . This was alongside a flurry of skirmishes between Scotland and England on British soil. By 1725 Britain had seen a neat run of victories and a couple of successful international treaties, and iron was in high demand for weapons manufacture.

    Charcoal was a key component in the production of iron at this timev before the 19th Century, but the level of forest cover in Britain by the 18th Century was at its lowest ever point thus farvi . The nation could and had imported iron from Sweden but relations were not always stable during this time, especially with the countries opposing each other during the 20-year long Great Northern War. To resolve the issue, in 1719 a group of British investors established what was to be the first of several furnaces in the American colonies producing iron for UK use (from 1723). Their Principio ironworksvii in Perryville, Maryland, USA is estimated to have produced around half of the 50,000 to ns of pig iron ingots shipped from Maryland to the UK between 1718 and 1755. The ingots earned the name ‘Iron Pigs’ as each batch resembled a litter of suckling piglets and the 1727 purchase price at the furnace was £10.00 per ton. The Principio furnace was later destroyed by British troops in what is known as the War of 1812.

    The answer as to how one precious ingot escaped the progress to London (a few consignments were shipped to Bristol and possibly Barnstable or Bideford) and then avoided manufacture into artillery – cannon barrels in particular – or other iron goods, is yet to be uncovered. Perhaps it was caught by the lull in British warfare at the end of the 1720s and was briefly a less valuable commodity, or found itself a guilty collateral damage in the industrial conflict between the Britain and US-based iron industries. Was it a valued object that proved a handy size and effective material for the oven lintel, or a concealed stowaway – hidden in plain but unremarkable sight? We don’t know, but it is an incredibly rare survivor of New World iron production – one of only very few stamped pigs discovered, and unique in its structural, and UK, location.vii.

    The Project:

    RPS was appointed in 2013 to provide cultural heritage and ecology advice for the proposed construction of the Route 39 Academy school within the former Steart Farm camping and caravanning site on land once forming a part of the late 19th Century Mark Rolle estate. A part of the land previously used as a caravan site is to house the school building which secured planning consent from the Secretary of State in February 2016 following a Public Local Inquiry at which RPS Technical Director Mick Rawlings presented evidence with regard to cultural heritage. Planning consent was dependent upon the satisfactory completion of an Historic Building Level 4 survey of Steart Farm which sits within the site. The ground-breaking ceremony took place on February 23rd 2017.

    The site sits within the North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and adjoins/overlooks the Tintagel-Marsland-Clovelly Coast Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The site is enclosed by ancient woodland and incorporates with part of the Bucks Wood County Wildlife Site (CWS).

    Environmental surveys across the site identified 11 bat species during transect surveys, and five more species roosting in small numbers during emergence surveys. Species protection and alternative roost creation is to be carried out in an existing outbuilding to maintain the value of the site for roosting lesser horseshoe, Natterer’s and pipistrelle bats.

    A population of slow worms (protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act) were successfully relocated within the site from the main construction site under a species protection strategy designed and implemented by RPS.

    Completion of the slow worm relocation prior to the start of hibernation was fundamental to the project programme avoiding a six-month delay. Understanding how the slow worms were using habitats and targeting capture effort enabled successfully moving the whole population in autumn 2016. Prior to relocation new reptile habitat was created including hibernacula and log piles positioned in other nearby areas that are ideal habitats for the slow worm. A reptile barrier fence encloses the construction area and prevents reptiles entering the development site during construction.

    The site is one of several that were being considered for the school’s location and is ideally situated to foster the school’s focus on outdoor learning and environmental values with minimal impact and providing a safe space for lessons. The main school itself will be two storey, using natural materials for its external face and set low in the surrounding landscape, on land previously used for caravans. New native tree and shrub planting will provide additional woodland habitat to deliver an acceptable biodiversity balance and strengthen the buffer between the school and the site boundary. This also reinforced the visual screening from natural viewpoints. Natural England advised that the school would be unlikely to have a detrimental effect and the Secretary of State ruled that its impact on visual amenity would be reduced to a minimum by its simple design, use of natural materials, careful setting and the additional planting

    Steart Farm will be retained and incorporated within the school complex.


    End Notes:

    i An Historic Building Level 4 Recording survey requires a comprehensive historical and architectural analysis of a site or structure that researches and draws in a thorough range of evidence resources including visual record, mapping records, and building records. The results are presented with drawn, photographic and written accounts both contemporary and historic.

    ii The main rectangle of the building is original, with the south-west extension dating to the mid-18th Century.

    iii Established under an Act of Union in 1707, this comprised England and Scotland in the 18th Century. Wales was officially considered a part of England within the Act.

    iv See Wikipedia for a quick potted history of Britain’s 18th Century wars.

    v Coke started to be used in the process during the 19th Century – it has a higher crushing strength an helped facilitate the effective use of larger furnaces. Blast furnaces continued to use charcoal until the middle of the century.

    vi By the end of the 19th Century the total woodland area of England was less than 5%. Sustained impacts from agriculture, animal grazing, industry, and landscaping fashions had all contributed to a substantial level of deforestation across Europe and the 18th Century saw heavy timber requirements for naval use and industrial use depleting the volume still further. Forestry Commission figures give the latest value at 10% (2016) – the turnaround largely due to conscious revegetation effort.

    vii The Principio Iron Works offices are still standing. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the United States of America. Its reference number is 72000575.

    viii : Other early Iron Pigs have been dug up in the USA close to furnace sites.

    RPS Acoustics Returns to the North

    13 April 2017

    RPS Acoustics Returns to the North

    RPS Acoustics team is expanding and returning to the north in order to service major National Grid and other northern centric projects.

    To service these, and to re-establish RPS Acoustics in the north, Giles Hine has joined RPS from RSK as a Principal Consultant in Acoustics, working out of the Manchester Quay office.

    Giles has over 14 years of experience in acoustics including 5 years as a local authority Pollution Control Officer. Giles comments “I am delighted to be representing the RPS Acoustics team in the north and reintroducing Building Acoustics as a service within RPS’ multi-disciplinary offering”.

    Giles specialises in building acoustics, having been the acoustician on many new build and refurbishment projects within education, healthcare, multi-residential, distribution and commercial office sectors. Projects have included many built under the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM). He will assist the building services teams based in Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle and any other offices where this specialist input is required. Giles’ experience in Environmental Acoustics covers assessment and monitoring from design to construction of linear infrastructure projects, energy, residential, commercial, mixed use projects and due diligence assessments at large industrial sites.

    In his spare time, Giles is a former rower with a morbid fear of rowing machines, a trivia nerd who has appeared on 15-1 and University Challenge and a long-suffering Norwich City supporter. His grandfather scored the goal that knocked Chelsea out of the FA cup quarter final in 1939, going on to play in the record attendance match at Old Trafford (where he found himself losing 5-0 to Wolves).

    RPS Sustainability Team Wins Top International Award

    23 March 2017

    RPS Sustainability Team Wins Top International Award

    Members of RPS’ sustainability (London and Oxford) team (left to right: Andrew Tasker (O), Rallou Nikolaou (L), Thomas Vazakas (L), Oliver Watts (L), Emily Ashton-Jelley (O))

    RPS’ London sustainability team was recently announced as the winner of the Offices In-Use category at the BREEAM Awards 2017. The award recognises the BREEAM assessment carried out by RPS at Kings Place, an office building in central London.

    The BREEAM Awards is an international event recognising exceptional sustainable places and project teams. Over 40 projects from around the world were shortlisted this year, each one representing an example of high sustainability performance.

    RPS has been working closely with Savills since 2014 to ensure high sustainability standards on new and operational commercial buildings managed by the company. The BREEAM In-Use assessment at Kings Place supported this program, by incorporating a targeted plan of incremental improvements within the property’s operations and activities.

    Kings Place achieved a BREEAM Rating of ‘Outstanding’ with a BREEAM In-Use International score of 95%. This is one of the highest scores ever recorded, on any BREEAM assessment, across the world.

    Kings Place is an iconic prime office building, in close proximity to the international transport hub King’s Cross St Pancras. Kings Place has a total of 31,000m2 of private open plan office space, across eight floors, arranged around a large glass central atrium. Moreover, the ground and lower floors incorporate two world class concert halls, arts, events and restaurant facilities. For more information about Kings Place and the BREEAM assessment please click on

    Ground Investigation Specialists of the Year? RPS has been shortlisted for the 2017 Ground Engineering Awards.

    13 March 2017

    Ground Investigation Specialists of the Year? RPS has been shortlisted for the 2017 Ground Engineering Awards.



    RPS is thrilled to announce that we have been shortlisted for two categories at the 2017 Ground Engineering Awards: Project with a Geotechnical Value of over £500k and Ground Investigation Specialist of the Year, both in recognition of our work on the HS2 Ground Investigation Framework.

    RPS was appointed in 2015 as one of nine companies on the prestigious framework, which at an estimated total value of £40 million, is the largest ground investigation ever undertaken in the UK. The packages of work RPS secured include the utilisation of a broad range of geotechnical and geo-environmental ground investigation techniques. Work began early 2016 and we completed 10 ground investigation work packages on site by December 2016 with a further two work packages due to complete by April 2017.

    Under the Framework, HS2 intend to commission approximately 90 ground investigation work packages of varying degrees of complexity over the Phase 1 route between London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street.

    Mike Barker (Bristol) HS2 Project Manager: Technical Director said: “RPS are delighted to have been short-listed for this prestigious industry leading award that recognises our ongoing commitment to the provision of top quality ground investigation services in the UK”.

    A record number of companies entered the awards this year, which made even getting on the shortlist very competitive, as Ground Engineering Awards editor Claire Smith commented:

    "The entries to the GE Awards never cease to amaze me in terms of the innovation and challenges successfully overcome by the UK's geotechnical sector - and this year is no exception.

    The number and quality of entries this year means that just getting onto the shortlist is a real achievement in itself. “

    The winners will be announced on 5 July 2017 at a glamorous ceremony at the Hilton Park Lane, London, where over 800 industry specialists will come together to celebrate engineering excellence.

    RPS’ Multidisciplinary Team’s Work Secures Best in Britain Award

    10 March 2017

    RPS’ Multidisciplinary Team’s Work Secures Best in Britain Award

    Beach Cove Coastal Retreat, Ilfracombe

    Throughout the last year RPS has helped Darwin Escapes deliver a number of new, high-quality holiday parks all over England including the Hoseasons 2016 award-winning Beach Cove Coastal Retreat. Our landscape architectural, ecological, arboricultural and flood risk teams have supported a range of schemes through the planning process, construction stages and on to the park opening.

    The holiday parks span England, with sites in Ilfracombe (Devon), near Keswick (Lake District), Isle of Wight, Canterbury (Kent), just outside Lyme Regis and Poole (both Dorset) recently opening to the public. The Beach Coast Coastal Retreat overlooking Hele Bay in Ilfracombe was voted one of the best in Britain by Hoseasons – winning the travel company’s Small Park Award 2016 (see ) and has a stunning location set on a steep cliff above a sandy cove. The park comprises a range of fully equipped nautical timber-clad beach homes and stylish modern apartments near to the Exmoor National Park. Our landscape architects designed a planting scheme which complimented the sites coastal location, with our ecologists addressing the issue of Japanese Knotweed which was found on the site.

    Keswick Reach, Lake District.

    All parks are located within stunning and unique environments therefore requiring careful consideration and design to sit best with the surrounding environment and ecological diversity. The Isle of Wight, Poole and Lyme Regis sites are close to a number of specially protected environmental areas including heathland, mudflats and salt marshes (AONBs, SACs, SSSI and RAMSAR sites) and the Keswick Reach Park sits within the Lake District National Park - a considerable area of breathtaking greenspace, mountainous landscape and freshwater lakes.

    Our consultant teams developed bespoke designs for each park, creating a naturalistic setting to each location. This led to one site being planted with over 75,000 native trees and shrubs, and another being laid out with nearly three hectares of wildflower turf which was specifically grown for the project, that’s the same size as three football pitches!

    Beach Cove Coastal Retreat, Ilfracombe

     St. David’s Day Marks Start of Main UK Nesting Season

    01 March 2017

    St. David’s Day Marks Start of Main UK Nesting Season

    RPS ornithologists advise on watching out for nesting birds.

    Blackbird nest with chicks Blackbirds are abundant in most habitat types, and will build nests in bushes, scrub, trees and on man-made structures in urban, suburban and rural settings. The breeding season for Blackbirds tends to begin at the start of March, and they routinely have up to three breeding attempts per year.
    Image Credit:

    Bird nesting season is upon us. The days are getting longer, which means the bird breeding season will soon be in full swing! It is therefore a good time to remind everyone of the important considerations for projects that may affect habitats used by nesting birds.

    All wild birds, their nests and young are protected throughout England and Wales by the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). It is illegal to kill, injure or take any wild bird, or damage or destroy the nest or eggs of breeding birds. This legislation applies to all bird species – whether rare or vulnerable and listed on Schedule 1 of the 1981 Act such as Barn Owl, or common and sometimes disregarded such as Feral Pigeon.

    There are two key things to be aware of. Firstly, birds can nest just about anywhere! Different species have evolved and adapted to nest in virtually all habitats and situations. Some birds are predominantly scrub or ground-nesting, some prefer trees, while others have adapted to nest in or on buildings (such as Swallows and gulls, respectively). Some species nest in holes, others build open cups. The second thing to remember is that although the main bird breeding season is March to August, some birds (most typically pigeons and doves) will nest through the year.

    If nests (whether completed or in the process of being built) are found, any works in the vicinity with the potential to damage or destroy the nest, eggs or young birds, must stop until the birds have finished breeding. This includes disturbance that could potentially cause an adult bird to desert a nest resulting in death of chicks or egg failure.

    Nesting sites should only be inspected by experienced ornithologists. Breaking the law when it comes to nesting birds can lead to vehicles being compounded, hefty fines and even prison sentences. So please take appropriate precautions.

    Collared Dove nesting in a gutter Feral Pigeons always tend to nest in or on buildings and man-made structures, but Wood Pigeons and Collared Doves frequently do so too as well as in their more natural locations of trees and tall scrub.
    Image Credit: Chas Holt

    RPS’ ornithologists can advise on, and conduct, all aspects of bird work including nest-related clerk of works.

    RPS Successfully Supports Sensitive Development for A9 within the Cairngorm National Park

    22 February 2017

    RPS Successfully Supports Sensitive Development for A9 within the Cairngorm National Park

    Since September 2015, RPS has provided Environmental Clerk of Works (ECoW) services to Wills Bros/John Paul Joint Venture for the 7.5km Kincraig-Dalraddy A9 upgrade. The scheme passes through the Cairngorms National Park, Alvie SSSI and a tributary of the River Spey SAC, and has required the sensitive management of numerous protected habitats and species during the tight construction schedule.

    Ecological highlights of the development have included:

    Translocation of some 45 hairy wood ant nests in collaboration with the Cairngorm National Park Authority. Hairy wood ants, included on the Scottish Biodiversity List as a prior species for conservation and a key stone species of woodland ecosystems, are threatened through habitat loss. The successful translocation of these nests is a key conservation action for the species and was praised by the National Park Authority;

    Sensitive felling of mature Scot’s pine forestry containing red squirrels in consultation with SNH. Red squirrels are protected both under UK and European legislation. The sensitive removal of forestry ensured a negligible impact to the species and the area’s native population, whilst allowing construction of the development to continue on schedule;

    Installation and monitoring of otter fencing surrounding the development to protect this qualifying species of the adjacent River Spey SAC. RPS’ pragmatic advice ensured otters were suitably protected from the development whilst continuing to successfully use their existing territories. Monitoring gave confidence to SNH that the development continued to cause no Likely Significant Effect to this qualifying species of the nearby SAC;

    ECoW monitoring of compliance with all relevant environmental documents. RPS’s ECoW have received high praise resulting in a score of 9/10 (“exceptional”) for Environmental Protection under the Considerate Contractor Scheme.

    As the onsite ECoW is part of the wider Design Site Representative team it has been a great benefit to the scheme to have a full time environmental presence ensuring that stakeholders have confidence that regulations are being followed, the site achieved a very high score for “Protection to the Environment” in the Considerate Contractors audit which rates the site as “Excellent”.

    20th January ICE Webinar: Lunch-and-Learn 3-D Modelling

    16 January 2017

    20th January ICE Webinar: Lunch-and-Learn 3-D Modelling

    RPS’ Dr Grainne McQuaid to host ICE 3-D modelling Photogrammetry webinar with a focus on transport.

    Dr. McQuaid

    On 20th January 2017, Grainne McQuaid will host her own ICE Webinar on 3-D Modelling Using Noncontact Close Range Photogrammetry. You can register your interest by clicking on the 'book now' button from the link below and following the onscreen instructions.

    Methods developed at Ulster University can offer new ways of understanding road surfaces.

    Road surface texture is important at a range of scales. At a mega-scale potholes are a problem to road users and anyone involved in maintenance. Macro-scale relates to the roughness of a road and its ability to disperse water. This is particularly important at higher road speeds and is necessary to ensure safety in wet conditions.

    As a micro-scale, the surface texture of individual aggregate particles is essential to cut through films of water between the tyre blocks and the aggregate to ensure points of contact and reduce the risk of aqua-planning.

    This webinar considers how 3-D models based on non-contact Close Range Photogrammetry methods developed at Ulster University can offer new ways of better understanding these texture related properties. The method offers substantial scope for creating accurate cost effective 3-D models across a variety of texture scales right through to its use even for topographical surveys.