Archived News

    Going for Gold: Heads of the Valleys Wins at Green World Awards

    21 December 2017

    Going for Gold: Heads of the Valleys Wins at Green World Awards

    A465 Dualling project in Wales secures award for best practice civil engineering.

    The £223m A465 Heads of the Valleys Section 2 dualling project for the Welsh Government has secured Gold Award in the Civil Engineering category of the Green World Awards. RPS was appointed to the project by Costain and has provided a range of environmental consultancy services since 2011.

    The International annual awards recognise environmental best practice and are organised by independent non-profit environment group The Green Organisation. The event attracts project entrants from worldwide and were this year held in Dubai on December 11th. The Green Organisation was founded in 1994 and also presents the National Green Apple Environment Awards in the UK Houses of Parliament. The project won the Gold National Award for Building and Construction in Wales earlier in 2017.

    Leader of the ECI project, Costain has passed its sincere thanks on to RPS as having been instrumental in helping to win the award.

    Earlier this year, the project reported over two million hours’ site work with no reportable accidents – a fantastic achievement for such a complex project.

    More project details:
    A465: Two Million Hours Plus and No Reportable Accidents_26th July 2017
    Dualling of the Heads of the Valleys_10th March 2015

    Image credit: A465 at Gilwern for SO2514 © Copyright Peter Randall-Cook and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

    Acoustic Deterrent Turns Whales Away

    21 December 2017

    Acoustic Deterrent Turns Whales Away

    RPS has been working with project partner Marine Conservation Research (MCR) on the Phase II of a project for the Offshore Renewables Joint Industry Partnership (ORJIP) looking at the effectiveness of Acoustic Deterrent Devices (ADDs) to deter marine mammals from injury zones. The project, managed by the Carbon Trust, is a vital UK-wide collaborative programme of environmental research aimed to reduce consenting risks for wave, tidal stream and tidal range projects.

    Research vessel: Song of the Whale.
    Minke whale.

    As a key part of this project RPS has led a study into the efficiency of ADDs for preventing minke whale from approaching too close to offshore site operations. Subsea noise, primarily caused by pile-driving is identified as causing a potential risk of injury to marine mamal receptors, and so is a significant consideration for consenting offshore wind-farm developments. Studies have previously been conducted with reasonable success to analyse the efficiency of ADDs in deterring pinnipeds (seals) and harbour porpoise but do not guarantee that the results would be the same for minke whale whose hearing frequency is in a lower range.

    The project results were intended to enable the creation of reliable exclusion zones around an offshore turbine. Following on from an extensive desk top review of 34 ADDs in Phase I of the ORJIP study, the Lofitech ADD was selected to test in the field with minke whale, as this had a proven track record of successfully deterring other marine mammal species.

    Fieldwork was undertaken by a research team onboard the specialist research vessel, Song of the Whale in Faxaflói Bay, southwest Iceland for a period of six weeks. Nearly 250 minke whales were sighted, 46 whales were tracked, and 15 whales successfully followed as study subjects to compile a full behavioral dataset of the whales’ behavior in response to controlled exposure to the Lofitech ADD. A secondary, smaller vessel was used to deploy the ADD to ensure minimum disturbance from the vessel itself. The methodology used was a 30-minute pre-exposure period, a 15 minute control period (engine cut), 15 minute exposure at 1 km distance, then a 30 minute post-exposure period to observe reactions after the ADD had been switched off.

    The study whales responded quickly with a directional movement away from the ADD and increased swim speed – foraging whales moved erratically pre-deployment, then moved away from the sound in an approximate straight line when it was emitted, slowing their pace after some 30-45 minutes. The study showed that focal whales responded to ADDs by moving to distances which could prevent injurious effects from subsea noise. In addition, predictive noise modelling suggested that the whales were not at risk of injury by the exposure to the ADD itself, even if an individual were exposed at closer distances of 25 m.

    As a consequence of the project, the study method and results will be used to inform government guidance on mitigation for marine development and will serve as valuable information for other activities including seismic surveys, unexploded ordnance detonation, and offshore mineral excavation.

    The full reports can be downloaded from the Carbon Trust website at:
    RPS report
    Efficacy of ADDs reports

    Exploring a New Look for Newcastle’s Historic Post

    13 December 2017

    Exploring a New Look for Newcastle’s Historic Post

    RPS Australian offices working with Local Aboriginal Land Council to restore 1902 Post Office.

    Newcastle Post Office in the early twentieth century (left) and present day (right).

    Three of RPS’ Australian businesses have been working closely with the Awabakal Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) towards the restoration of the circa 1902 former Newcastle Post Office.

    This State heritage listed building is an iconic Newcastle landmark with exceptional community value however is currently in a state of disrepair. It will require a significant quantum of works performed on the building in order to restore it to a serviceable state.

    Our Cultural Heritage team have been working with the Awabakal LALC since ownership of the building was transferred to the organisation in January 2015; successfully gaining access to an initial emergency works grant to address urgent repairs.

    Following the success of the initial grant, the Cultural Heritage team again worked with Awabakal LALC in securing an additional $150,000 grant to conduct further restoration works.

    Our Project Management team were subsequently engaged to administer the grant and project manage this next stage of restoration work, including securing, protecting and preserving the building for future generations and potential development.

    The Project Management team have been supported by our Project Approvals & Communications business who provided strategic media advice for the project. As part of an ongoing commitment to the RPS Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), our Cultural Heritage team will continue to assist with the heritage aspects of this project and will prepare necessary exemptions for future works.

    Such repairs will be the first step toward Awabakal LALC's vision to restore the historic building. Recommended uses of the building include the creation of a hotel, art gallery, fine-dining restaurant, or a National Indigenous Cultural Institute which could house the largest collection of indigenous Australian art and artefacts anywhere in the world.

    MeyGen Tidal Stream Array Wins Outstanding Project Award

    06 December 2017

    MeyGen Tidal Stream Array Wins Outstanding Project Award

    RPS sponsored the Outstanding Project Award at the recent Scottish Green Energy Awards on 30 November, organised and hosted by Scottish Renewables and headline-sponsored by EDF Energy.

    Awards host Hardeep Singh Kohli (left) with RPS Planning and EIA Director Andrew Walters (right).
    Atlantis Resources (right) received the award from the BBC’s Hardeep Singh Kohli (left) and RPS Planning and EIA Director Andrew Walters (second from left).

    Trophies were awarded across eleven categories at the Edinburgh event recognising the achievements of 26,000 working in Scotland to deliver incredible new innovations across the renewable energy industry.

    Outstanding Project Award went to Atlantis Resources for the MeyGen tidal stream array that is the largest of its kind internationally and is currently being trialled in the Pentland Firth off the Orkney. Islands. Winners were chosen by the judges panel from a shortlist of 40 entries across the categories.

    Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, Claire Mack said: “This year’s Scottish Green Energy Award winners are helping Scotland change the way it thinks about energy .. They’re creating the organisations, projects and mindsets that we’ll need ...They’re .. developing the exportable skills and tools which will set Scotland at the forefront of the global fight against damaging carbon emissions. Our industry is incredibly proud of what these inspirational people and organisations are achieving.”

    "It was a fantastic evening in Edinburgh with the renewables industry out in force" says RPS Planning and EIA Director Andrew Walters who presented the award on behalf of RPS "As sponsor, we were incredibly impressed with the ambition, innovation and passion shown by the people at MeyGen, for its well-recognised – and now award winning - tidal stream array project exporting electricity to the grid with a world record output of 700MW hours in 2017."


    You can read the event Press Release from Scottish Renewables here.


    Images by Tim Winterburn for Scottish Renewables Group and supplied by Scottish Renewables Group.

    400 Santas Looked Straight Ahead for Scoliosis

    06 December 2017

    400 Santas Looked Straight Ahead for Scoliosis

    The chill in the winter air did nothing to deter the 400 festive cyclists, decked in red Santa suits as they took on the 7.5km night ride through Cork in Ireland last weekend.

    Dr. Colm Taylor from the South Infirmary with the scanner purchased from funds raised by last year’s Santa Cycle.

    Now in its second year, the event was established by RPS IT Director Connie Wiseman and fellow cyclist and triathlete Neville Foott. This year’s event, sponsored by Ronan Daly Jermyn, has already raised over €14,000 (£12,375/US$16,550/AU$21,815/137,120NOK) for Straight Ahead in association with CMRF Crumlin Children's Hospital and donations are still flowing in.

    Last year's first Cork Santa Cycle raised €16,500 (£14,584/US$19,540/AU$25,800/160,965NOK) for the The Laurel Charity Crew and facilitated some valued improvements for children on hospital waiting lists. In particular, the funds raised purchased a €12,000 orthopaedic scanner for South Infirmary-Victoria University Hospital in Cork. So far, this has allowed 1,300 children in the region to get scanned and start treatment locally in comfort rather than having to travel to Dublin. Last year’s event was awarded Charity Event of the Year at the Irish Healthcare Centre Awards in March.

    Speaking after the event, Connie said ‘We’re delighted with the turn-out and support for our second Cork Santa Cycle. Thanks to all the amazing Santas that joined us on our trek around Cork city. It was a great experience for us and we are blown away by your generosity and support.’

    Straight Ahead is a volunteer-led charity operating in association with the Crumlin Children's Hospital that helps fund the pro-bono treatment of children with curvature of the spine and related orthopaedic problems in Ireland. Surgeons and board members give their time, services and expertise freely to the charity. The charity has been able to support and perform 110 procedures on time-critical patients from across Ireland in the last four years, working at full capacity. Through charitable donation of implants from medical suppliers worldwide, time given freely and fundraising/donations, the charity can continue to perform essential spinal operations on young people most needing surgery.


    Note: Currency equivalents provided here are approximate and are correct at time of press.

    New Accredited Analysis of Marine Sediments from RPS

    04 December 2017

    New Accredited Analysis of Marine Sediments from RPS

    With the ongoing investment in the exploration of natural resources and the harnessing of energy from wind and tidal power, there is an increasing focus on the environmental impacts this can have on the marine habitat.

    In order to ensure environmental compliance and licensing requirements RPS is able to offer the analysis of sediments to meet the Marine Monitoring Organisation’s (MMO) requirements of England and Wales. RPS also meets the analytical requirements of the Marine Scotland Act, and the equivalent Environment Agency requirements of both Northern and Southern Ireland.

    RPS routinely supports environmental pre- and post- operational surveys, dredging operations and planning surveys such as the redevelopment of Belfast Harbour (Northern Ireland) and the expansion of Dublin Harbour (Ireland) and has also been involved in marine monitoring programmes such as the marine environmental impact assessment of the wreck of RFA Darkdale, an oil tanker that was torpedoed in WWII in St. James Bay, St Helena, in the South Atlantic – which contract was carried out on behalf of the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD).

    The laboratories’ expertise is an important factor in ensuring that the quality of results can be relied upon for regulatory outputs. Our staff have vast experience of working within the marine industry in both government and commercial laboratories and can guarantee the use of the most appropriate methods and techniques to achieve high quality results in realistic timescales.

    RPS participates in the Quasimeme marine performance testing scheme in line with OSPAR guidelines, and holds UKAS accreditation for the analysis of marine sediments: all of which is a requirement for submission of marine licencing applications.

    The reports provided by RPS include as standard all the required Certified Reference Material (CRM) and In House Reference Material (IHRM) data for licence submission.

    Our analytical services include:

    Total metal digest with hydrofluoric acid

    Available metal digest 50% nitric acid

    Partial metal digest with aqua regia

    ICP-MS and CVAFS analysis to meet the requirements for the characterisation of dredge material for disposal at sea (MMO, Marine Scotland, NIEA and Marine Institute)

    Organotin compounds in sediments (TBT, DBT, MBT etc.)

    Loss on ignition, dry matter, solids, carbonate content and TOC

    Sediment density

    Total Hydrocarbon content (TPH and speciated aliphatics)

    Oil and Grease

    Oil in Water (GC-FID or FTIR)

    BTEX, VOCs, petrol range organics

    PAHs EPA16 and alkylated 2-6 ring PAHs

    PCBs including EN25, WHO12, IC7 and CEFAS 25 congeners

    SVOCs by GC-MS

    Alkylphenols, Alkylphenol ethoxylates

    Organochlorine Pesticides

    Particle size analysis via wet and dry sieving (BS1377 & NMBAQC methods) and laser diffraction

    A Digital Reflection

    04 December 2017

    A Digital Reflection

    Left to Right, Rudi Moore (Farrans), David Comiskey (Ulster University), Melanie Dawson (Chair BIM Regions), Stephen Henderson (RPS Group) and Simon White (Atkins Digital Director).

    Following Digital Construction Live, how does RPS view digital growth in the last year?

    As we are just back from this year’s Digital Construction Live, which saw almost 500 professionals attend; it is time to reflect on what we have learned and shared. The conference, hosted by broadcast journalist and the original UK voice of Siri: Jon Briggs, aimed to raise awareness of BIM and digital construction, and provide a collaborative platform for best practice to be shared.

    Going further than exploring what digital means for the industry, this year’s Construction Live event had a packed programme featuring talks on Industrial Revolution 4.0, technology, practical uses of digital solutions, innovations along with Digital Built Britain and Digital Transformation.

    “After last year’s successful BIM Conference hosted in Belfast, I was keen for our staff to be a part of that in 2017,” said RPS Managing Director Michael Shaw “especially with this year’s focus being Digital Construction - an area in which we have made considerable advances over the past year.”

    One noticeable change from last year was the uptake of immersive technologies – including that of augmented and virtual reality – with nearly every company exhibiting in 2017 using this technology in various formats. The benefits of immersive visualisation technologies were being very well received, with an increased number of professionals visiting the RPS stand more knowledgeable about and engaging with its practical uses.

    As Anne Kemp from the UK BIM Alliance working group described in her presentation on Open BIM “Our physical world is increasingly merging with the virtual world. How we, as human beings, understand and facilitate that is where the excitement lies.”

    RPS Marketing and Graphics Manager Stephen Henderson spoke on how RPS is exploring the applications of VR for our industry at the event. Stephen and the Digital Transformation team in Belfast utilise their combined expertise in engineering and business strategy to help identify and utilise VR technology through collaborative cross-sector development programmes. RPS is exploring and applying the use of VR and AR across the fields of BIM, Health and Safety training, Asset management and many more fields where it is advantageous to visualise and understand a new environment before it is built or operated.

    Speaking at the event, Melanie Dawson - Chair of NI BIM Regions Group, said: “The demand for Building Information Modelling (BIM) continues to grow across construction projects in the UK... This is partly as a result of the government mandate for BIM Level 2 in 2016 but also because public and private sector clients are increasingly understanding the potential value BIM can bring.”

    Mrs Dawson continued: “The construction sector in the UK employs over two million people and contributes £100 billion in economic output. It is a key contributor to the UK economy. With the global construction market expected to grow 70% by 2025, digital transformation plays a key role in driving efficiencies and ensuring the ongoing competitiveness of the industry.”

    Undoubtedly one of the biggest issues that the event threw a spotlight on was the digitisation of construction and the implementation of BIM, with the recurring message throughout the conference being the desire for implementation of BIM Level 2 to become ‘business as usual’. The Digital Built Britain strategy suggests that over the next decade we will become totally connected and BIM will continue to combine with the Internet of Things; advanced data analytics and the digital economy. This will allow us to plan more effectively, build at a lower cost and operate more efficiently. Fiona Moore from Digital Built Britain put it in context very neatly as she said “For every physical structure a digital twin would be created.”

    RPS presented its use of Immersive Technologies at the event. This was not just for engineering projects, but for the purpose of creating a user experience that would allow those immersed in the virtual environment to move freely and really gain an understanding of the space available to them. RPS Marketing & Graphics Manager Stephen Henderson explains: “To move beyond a novelty in the Architecture Engineering and Construction industry, Virtual & Mixed Reality needs to shift from a platform of purely consumption, to one of a data rich immersive storytelling experience. The sector is changing fast. Advancements in virtual reality and the internet of things will continue to be major disruptors. At RPS we believe that collaboration and communication is fundamental to our industry’s future success.”

    “Our clients now understand that we all use 3D models and expect the design team to collaborate and federate their information. As digital construction and BIM mature we must look beyond the clever technology and authoring platforms and truly understand our clients’ required outcomes and use the best tools to achieve these to be as efficient as possible.”

    It is at events such as this that the myth about the construction industry being ‘conservative’ both towards innovation and diversity gets set straight!

    RPS Leads Public Realm Packages for Magherafelt

    30 November 2017

    RPS Leads Public Realm Packages for Magherafelt

    A major new public realm project has recently been completed in Magherafelt town centre, Northern Ireland with RPS’ Belfast Landscape Architecture team project managing the landscape design and engineering packages including appointment of contractor FP McCann and full contract administration, and quality management.

    The £2.6m project encompasses new footpaths in natural sandstone pavements and new civic spaces, new and enhanced road crossings for pedestrians, cycle racks, new traffic management arrangements & street parking, road safety audits, bespoke street lighting, tree planting, street furniture, and cyclist/pedestrian and road signage.

    RPS was appointed by Mid Ulster District Council and was fully responsible for landscape design, project management, civil & structural, landscape design, M&E, planning, consultation, traffic and roads engineering works through design and implementation for the scheme in Magherafelt’s busy and restricted streets.

    Our landscape architects worked closely with the client’s initial brief and prepared scheme design and detailed drawings to allow the relevant planning consents to be secured, then subsequently advised the client on appropriate procurement strategy, and prepared the relevant documents to allow Contractors to be appointed. Procurement followed a two stage select list via PQQ and ITT using CPD templates.

    RPS maintained an accurate Early Warning & Compensation Event Register as part of its strict cost management procedures to meet client and DSD budget requirements – helping to control financial expenditure and identify early risks and appropriate remedial actions when necessary.

    Regular client & design team meetings were arranged and chaired by the RPS team to established communication procedures & responsibilities and present RPS’ designs. RPS regularly reviewed the scope, programme & anticipated costs including reviewing alternative design & construction solutions & provided cost estimates for such for client approval. RPS oversaw statutory & public consultation, made all necessary presentations to Council members and amended designs as necessary, prepared detailed Works Information packages for the Invitation to Tender Stage and set stringent performance and design quality standards.

    New London Plan Draft Published for Capital

    29 November 2017

    New London Plan Draft Published for Capital


    The Greater London Authority has today released its draft Spatial Development Strategy for public consultation.

    London Mayor Sadiq Khan sets out an ambitious vision for the capital city to shape and develop the city over coming and future years to better benefit its communities as a whole, and the city itself in its capacity as England’s largest city and the seat of the British parliament.

    ‘Many Londoners won’t know about or have come across the London Plan, but it shapes their lives on a daily basis.’ Khan explains introducing the Plan ‘It is one of the most crucial documents for our city, and what it contains shapes how London evolves and develops over coming years. ...This new London Plan ..represents a step-change in our approach and serves as a blueprint for the future development and sustainable, inclusive growth of our city.’

    The Plan is available to read here.

    SGN NIC Robotics Project Scoops Two UK Business Awards

    24 November 2017

    SGN NIC Robotics Project Scoops Two UK Business Awards

    The UK Business Awards were held on 22nd November at Wembley Stadium. It was a hugely successful evening for our client SGN and their NIC Robotics Innovation Project, which was awarded both the Utilities Award and the Innovation B2C Award.

    RPS provided the technical services consultancy to SGN and ULC Robotics, to support this industry-leading innovation project developing robotic platforms and solutions for the gas utility industry.

    The SGN Robotics team including Colin Osborne, SGN Engineering Policy Manager (second from left), Richard Mason, SGN Innovation Project Manager (third from right) and PJ Rudden, RPS Director (far right)

    The project pioneered the deployment of sensor technology inspection and repair robots in live gas distribution mains that had never been attempted before. It involved the design, manufacture and field testing of the new robots, which were successfully tested in live gas mains in London in November 2015.

    The innovative technology measures wall thickness, stress and strain in pipelines and will allow gas utilities to extend the life of cast iron pipeline infrastructure. Its use will allow pipeline inspection and joint repair operations to take place with minimal disruption to customers, with fewer traffic restrictions, lower road reinstatement costs and no supply restrictions for gas customers. The project was previously awarded the Engineers Ireland Excellence Award for Innovation in 2016.

    Richard Mason SGN Project Manager being presented with Award on Innovation (B2C) at UK Business Awards in Wembley Stadium

    The UK Business Awards are designed to recognise and celebrate exceptional business performance. Awards were presented across a wide range of categories including Financial Services, Retail, Utilities, Business Change or Transformation, Customer Centric Organisation, Disruptive Business Model, Innovation, Inspirational Leader and Best Place to Work.

    Twenty Years as Number One

    24 November 2017

    Twenty Years as Number One

    RPS has now achieved a straight twenty years at the top of the annual UK Planning Consultancy Survey’s overall fee income results. The annual Planning Survey is published in Planning magazine.

    The newly released 2017 Planning Survey notes “RPS once again tops the overall table, retaining the position since the fee income survey began 20 years ago. [RPS’ total Planning & Development related] income for 2016/17 was £93.3 million, up three per cent from £90.6 million. It also topped the tables in seven of the ten biggest earning market sectors, showing about five per cent fee income growth in its most profitable sectors – transport, energy, retail and householder developments.” Overall, our fee income rose by 3% during 2017, with private sector planning fee income up 5%.

    In addition to topping the main planning table by fee income for two decades this year, RPS leads the 2017 sector tables for:

    Householder Planning

    Brownfield Housing/Mixed-use

    Commercial & Industrial

    Retail & Town Centres

    Leisure Planning

    Energy Planning

    and Waste Planning

    RPS ranked in the top three for the remaining three sector categories: rising to second place for Transport Planning, in third for Greenfield Housing and third for Education Facilities.

    Based on the number of UK-based RTPI Chartered Planners, RPS came sixth with 111 (compared to 108 in 2016). RPS topped the poll for the total number of Planning fee earners increasing that number by 34 to 722 this year. RPS Managing Director of Planning and Environment, David Cowan, based in our Oxford office, says that RPS’ growth has been steady across the board, and particularly notable in work related to roads. “Last year, the volume of work undertaken by RPS in the UK in several key sectors continued to grow apace” says David “further building on our high levels of achievement in previous years.There are now more projects on which RPS has acted under construction than at any time in our company history.”

    RPS has consistently ranked top in the majority of planning market sectors for many years always occupying the top spot for overall planning fees throughout the last twenty years. Although there have been minor changes in category titles over the years, reflecting market trends, the categories have reliably retained their main themes, and we have continued to rank mostly as number one or highly ranked in each sector of Housing and Mixed-use Development, Commercial and Industrial, Retail and Town Centres, Leisure, Sport and Tourism, Transport, Energy, Water, Waste and Education Facilities over recent years.

    Progressive Tender Method Delivers 60 Hectare Wetlands Park

    23 November 2017

    Progressive Tender Method Delivers 60 Hectare Wetlands Park

    The Netherlands province of Zuid-Holland commissioned the creation of more than 60 hectares of (water) nature in the Leenheerengorzenpolder and the Buitengorzen. With the development of this area the province has increased the area of rare freshwater tidal nature and created a beautiful walking route. We asked project manager Ronald Broekhuizen of RPS about his experiences with this project during its festive opening in Goudswaard on 6 October 2017:

    Impression of the new area.

    The Spuimonding is the area where the river Spui flows into the Haringvliet. The province of Zuid-Holland had already developed an intertidal nature area in 2014 on the west side of the Spui, and later it developed the eastern bank. In the beginning of 2017 the province of Zuid-Holland started to develop a wetland nature area at the Spui. Creeks, gullies and water pools have been dug in the Leenheerengorzenpolder and in the Buitengorzen. There is also a bird viewing point, car park and a walking path. It is not only a pleasant area for recreation, but it is also attractive for real delta birds and wildlife such as the spoonbill, avocet, blacktailed godwit, beaver and root vole.

    Quay in the Buitengorzen.

    Together with RPS, and in close consultation with the Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management, Municipality of Korendijk, Hollandse Delta Waterboard, Natuurmonumenten and local residents, the link between the Spui and the Haringvliet has been developed in just six months’ time. The decision by the province to carry out this project through an integrated contract on the basis of UAV-GC i (Uniform Administrative Terms for Integrated Contract Forms) is courageous.

    “Working with such a contract is certainly a progressive approach for a pure nature development project such as this one. With these types of projects a traditional method of contracting with RAW ii (Rationalization and Automation of Soil, Water and Road Construction) contract documents is often chosen. It was therefore important to identify the project risks with the client from the very start. If necessary, we also carried out additional preliminary studies to control the risks. After a successful tender procedure, contractor Van de Herik could start the work under the supervision of RPS.”

    The excavation of an environmentally friendly bank in the Leenheerengorzenpolder.

    What were the most important success factors in the process?
    “It sounds obvious, but the most important success factor of this project is open and sincere communication during all phases. Not only with the client, but also with the surrounding area, contractor and other stakeholders. Moreover, we could manage the risks well by drawing up and continually updating the risk file. Furthermore, smart tendering by applying building stones has proved its added value. For example, we could make maximum use of the budget that was available for this project.”

    Was there a sustainable approach in this project?
    “Dealing efficiently with the soil flows was the most important task within this project, which mainly consists of earth moving. In the tender we focused on the possible recycling of the released soil, such as dike clay. This was not so easy in the implementation. The quality of the clay and its extractability proved to be less good than the preliminary studies suggested. In close cooperation with the contractor we changed the project after this in such a way that a closed soil balance could be realised. All released soil was therefore used in the project itself.”

    “Hereby it was the intention to use the released soil as optimally as possible for nature objectives. A good example of this is the construction of a ‘parapet’ in the form of a low quay. This means that you can walk through the area, sheltered, without disturbing the breeding birds.”

    A mattress of weips as a preparation for the bank protection at the estuary of the creek at the Spui.

    What makes this project so appealing to you?
    “For me this was a new and fairly progressive form of contracting and tendering a nature development project. In addition, it felt like a privilege to be allowed to work in such a dynamic, vast and beautiful environment as the Hoeksche Waard. It was great to have a positive ‘nature result’ immediately after realising the work.”

    Could you give an example of this?
    “In the beginning of May the contractor completed the connection of the creek with the Spui, so that the area was influenced by tides. Four days later we received a cheerful email from a local nature expert in which he spoke about a ‘dream start’. Many ‘real’ delta species, which we had hoped would come here had already found the area within a few days.”

    Which species?
    “For the experts: the ringed plover, little ringed plover, golden plover, grey plover, dunlin, red knot, curlew sandpiper, little stint, temminck's stint, common greenshank, wood sandpiper, redshank, green sandpiper ... I am probably forgetting one or two!”

    Bank protection at the estuary of the creek at the Spui.

    What were the learning points?
    “With this project, also with nature development, we learned that it helps to give a contractor as much freedom as possible for drawing up the design, requesting the permits and smartly devising the project. With the experience gained in this project we will give the market even more freedom in a subsequent project by coming up with smart and high-quality solutions.

    By limiting the content-related engineering work as much as possible, we can also focus more on selecting the most suitable contractor for a project through a sophisticated tender procedure.”

    What tips do you have for other clients if they would like to start up such a project?
    “Keep a good focus on selecting the right contractor with experience and a passion for nature development. And at the same time focus less on the content of the work. Dare to detach yourself from the content at the front and give the future contractor the opportunity to apply his knowledge and experience. Even for this type of nature construction work.”

    Project manager Ronald Broekhuizen at the Leenheerengorzenpolder before the start of the project:


    i Uniform Administrative Terms for Integrated Contract Forms. ‘UAV stands for Uniform Administrative Conditions for the execution of works and technical installation works 2012 (UAV 2012). The UAV can be declared applicable in a contract or construction contract in construction. The UAV regulates the contract relations between the client and the contractor.

    With the application of the UAV, a specification or contract of agreement is simplified because many administrative matters can be omitted in the specification text. Specifications and agreements are more uniform when applying the UAV. In this way, the drafting of an agreement or specifications becomes less labour-intensive.

    The UAV 2012 is the result of cooperation between the construction sector and the government. The UAV has become a standard scheme that is applied to projects of the government and projects in the private sector. NB: this is not a 'Standard Regulation' as it is meant in a legal sense.’ Wikipedia.

    ii The RAW (Rationalization and Automation of Soil, Water and Road Construction) system refers to a standardised delivery approach of legal, administrative and technical conditions used in the Netherlands for the contract construction for land, roads and water. It is a well-established system that has been applied to the majority of Dutch infrastructure projects over the last thirty years.

    Assessing Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields

    22 November 2017

    Assessing Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields

    With The Control of Electromagnetic Fields at Work (CEMFAW) Regulations (UK) 2016 coming into force, RPS has received numerous enquiries for assessment, measurement and management of electromagnetic fields (EMF) sources at industrial sites. The diverse sources of EMF within the workplace and lack of in house capabilities to adequately assess them against the current regulations are providing RPS with numerous opportunities to provide the service.

    The Control of Electromagnetic Fields at Work Regulations (CEMFAW) 2016 are based on the EU Directive 2013/35/EU and are specifically set out to cover exposure to workers of electric and magnetic fields up to 300 GHz in frequency. All companies are now required to undertake an assessment of risk from exposure to EMF to ensure operatives are not exposed to field strengths that will cause sensory effects or tissue heating.

    Exposure to EMF is not a new phenomenon. However, environmental exposure to man-made EMF has been steadily increasing as growing electricity demand, ever-advancing technologies and changes in social behaviour have created more and more artificial sources. Everyone is exposed to a complex mix of weak electric and magnetic fields, both at home and at work, from the generation and transmission of electricity, domestic appliances and industrial equipment, to telecommunications and broadcasting.

    EMFs are a type of non-ionising radiation that is created whenever electrical energy is used. Various sources of EMF are regularly produced at very low levels. However sources in the workplace can produce much higher EMFs that can be damaging to health.

    How EMFs affect the human body will depend on the frequency and intensity of the field, which is why measurement includes both frequency and magnitude. Some EMFs will cause direct effects on the organs and nerves in the body and may give rise to vertigo and nausea, whilst others cause heating of tissues. Indirect effects from exposure may include interference with active implanted medical devices such as cardiac pacemakers or defibrillators. They may also indirectly affect passive implants such as artificial joints, pins or wires and pose a risk to expectant mothers.

    The main thrust of the directive is the need for risk assessment to determine if an employee is exposed above a set of Action Levels (ALs) or Exposure Limit Values (ELVs).

    A risk assessment should be based on the following steps:

    Identification of all EMF sources and where employees work in respect to these sources. Identify who are the workers at particular risk and what they are exposed to.

    Cross reference all sources against EU guidance to establish which EMF sources require further assessment.

    For those sources requiring further assessment consult available information to evaluate risk.

    Where insufficient information is available direct measurement of EMF should be undertaken.

    Examples of industry and equipment that may exceed ALs and ELVs include:

    Infrastructure – broadcast base stations, microwave or radio frequency energized lighting equipment, radio and TV broadcasting equipment.
    Electrical Supply – electrical circuits including cables, switchgear and transformers where cables are carrying currents greater than 100A.
    Light Industry – resistance welding, manual spot and seam welding, dielectric heating and welding, induction heating and soldering, crack detection, magnetisers and demagnetisers, microwave heating and drying, RF plasma devices and battery charging stations.
    Heavy Industry – furnaces, arc melting and electrolysis.
    Transport – radar, air traffic control, trains and trams.

    The RPS Occupational Hygiene team has developed capability and competency in all areas of risk assessment and measurement of EMF to assist with compliance to CEMFAW 2016 and the ALs established.

    RPS can assess EMF exposure and compare it against the exposure limit criteria presented in CEMFAW 2016 for both occupational and general public exposure. To ensure compliance with CEMFAW 2016 RPS can provide any of the following:

    Initial risk assessment and auditing to identify at risk equipment and at risk personnel.

    Measurement survey of EMF and evaluation to Action Levels and Exposure Limit Criteria with advice to mitigate exposure including exclusion zoning.

    EMF action plans and policy preparation.

    The provision of any of the above services will enable clients to understand the issues clearly and accurately assess the risks from radiation exposure to electrical equipment and the steps required to achieve compliance with CEMFAW 2016, thus safeguarding their employees.

    Two Urban Drainage Group Awards for RPS

    20 November 2017

    Two Urban Drainage Group Awards for RPS

    RPS receives two awards at recent annual industry conference.

    RPS staff were recognised with two awards at the recent CIWEM Urban Drainage Group Conference in Blackpool, with Ally Gorst securing the overall Best Paper prize and Zara Herring being Highly Commended in the Adam Dean Award Poster Competition.

    November’s event was CIWEM UDG’s 33rd Autumn Conference, attracting over 200 delegates to the seaside town. The event spans three days and is the industry’s main conference and networking event of the year, including workshops, dinner and a research forum, all supported by an industry led exhibition. This year’s event included 18 technical papers on a range of subjects, four of which were presented by RPS staff - Margaret Williams, Ally Gorst, Matt Butterfield, and Celina Wong (last year’s Adam Dean Award winner)i

    Ally Gorst’s winning paper was titled “Can we gain confidence from Model Confidence?” and investigated how the industry can develop a robust and consistent approach to understanding and quantifying the confidence our mathematical models of sewerage and drainage network can give us in developing investment strategies and solutions. The paper was extremely timely given the release of an updated Code of Practice for Hydraulic Modelling of Urban Drainage Systems which introduces the concept of understanding model confidence.

    RPS Graduate Modeller Zara Herring presented her poster “Modelling for Dummies” to a panel of five judges as part of poster competition for the Adam Dean Award, which is aimed at young modellers with no previous presentation experience. The poster was based on Zara’s role on the Integrated Urban Drainage project being undertaken by RPS for Anglian Water, and was one of six posters shortlisted. Following the presentation, she was quizzed by the panel on the project and her role.

    RPS Wastewater Consultancy Director Steve Hogg said “UDG is a key event for us so it was great to see so many of the team putting themselves forward and presenting really interesting and thought-provoking papers. The level of effort that went in to all of them was excellent, and winning two awards was the icing on the cake of a really successful event for RPS.”

    i Celina was the 2016 Adam Dean Award winner. Her paper focused on the Newark UPM study she undertook as part of RPS Water’s Sewerage Management Planning Framework.

    RPS Director Appointed Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor

    20 November 2017

    RPS Director Appointed Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor

    Don McQuillan

    RPS Belfast Director Don McQuillan has been appointed Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor of Engineering Design at Queens’ University Belfast.

    This is part of an industry-into-academia initiative which “aims to utilise the experience of the Visiting Professor to enhance student learning as well as the employability and skills of UK engineering graduates” and in which senior industry practitioners share best practice and participate in course development, face-to-face teaching and mentoring of engineering undergraduates.

    A First Class Honours graduate of QUB, Don is very much looking forward to this new exciting opportunity.

    Don is a long-standing Professional Reviewer of graduate engineers, with both the Institution of Civil Engineers and Engineers Ireland, and for many years has mentored RPS’ young engineers in their career development. He is also currently a Vice President of the Institution of Structural Engineers and serves on its Board.

    Digital Construction Live Conference: 17th November, Europa Hotel, Belfast.

    13 November 2017

    Digital Construction Live Conference: 17th November, Europa Hotel, Belfast.

    Digital technologies have had a significant impact on the way we communicate, work and shop. In the space of just a few generations, we have transformed a grainy black and white television into an ultra-high definition screen which can fit in our pocket.

    In recent years, the construction industry has started its own digital revolution by introducing and implementing Building Information Modelling on public and private sector projects. The 2016 Government mandated use of BIM Level 2 was just a start, and we are now heading toward BIM Level 3, big data and smart cities.

    After hosting a very successful BIM conference at the Titanic Building in 2016 with over 400 delegates from across the UK, NIBIM Regions will be gathering together again on 17th November at Europa Hotel, Belfast to host the “Digital Construction Live 2017,” RPS’ Stephen Henderson is a speaker at the event where he will be discussing how RPS is exploring the applications of VR for our industry.

    Keynote speakers at Digital Construction Live will talk about:


    Digital Construction

    Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)

    3D printing


    Virtual and Augmented Reality

    Artificial Intelligence (AI)

    Internet of Things (IoT)


    Off-site Manufacturing

    Gaming (and other converging technology that aligns with construction)

    You can experience these cutting-edge technologies for yourself in the breakout sessions and workshops.

    Michael Shaw, David Ross and Mark Maguire from RPS will be hosting an exhibition stand at the event where visitors will be able to try out the VR technology we use to help our clients explore their design projects.

    The “Digital Construction Live 2017” conference is free to attend, and it is one of the best places to learn more or to expand your knowledge of BIM and digital technologies in the AEC industry. Furthermore, you have an excellent opportunity for networking and to meet professionals from leading organisations across the UK.

    Stephen Henderson

    RPS Appointed to Remediation of Unauthorised Landfill at Timoole

    12 November 2017

    RPS Appointed to Remediation of Unauthorised Landfill at Timoole

    Front row from left: Eoghan McCarthy Priority Construction, Cllr Gerry O Connor Cathaoirleach (Chairman) Meath County Council, Jackie Maguire Chief Executive Officer Meath County Council. Back row from left: Kevin Stewart Director of Service, Pat Keating Priority Construction, Cormac Bradley RPS, Caroline Corrigan Senior Executive Engineer, Larry Whelan Senior Executive Officer.

    The contract to remediate the unauthorised landfill at Timoole in County Meath was signed last week after a lengthy process of site investigations, redesigns and public consultations running in parallel with a High Court action.

    RPS was appointed to the project by Meath County Council in 2015 and since then we have been involved in bringing the project to construction stage. The tender for the construction works was published earlier this year and attracted seven tender submissions which were evaluated by RPS and culminated in a recommendation to appoint Priority Construction.

    Since then, we have worked with Meath County Council to resolve a land occupancy issue adjacent to the site and held public consultation meetings with the local community in the area.

    The construction phase will see the removal of approximately 40,000m3 of material from the site to a licensed facility and its replacement with suitable clean material. Excavation depths are expected to reach 10m in one corner of the site but in-situ testing of the floor and side walls of the excavation will ultimately determine the extent of the material removal. Construction will begin in November and is expected to continue for 15 months unless ground conditions allow earlier completion.

    RPS has previously undertaken landfill remediation projects on behalf of local authorities in Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Wicklow, Laois and Dublin.

    Fields at Timoole, Co. Meath. © Copyright C O'Flanagan and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
    RPS Helps Lake District Park to Latest Win with Best Large Park in Britain

    06 November 2017

    RPS Helps Lake District Park to Latest Win with Best Large Park in Britain

    Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat has won the Hoseason’s Best Large Park in Britain Award. This follows on from RPS’ multidisciplinary landscape team’s success earlier this year when we helped client Darwin Escapes secure Hoseason’s Best Small Park Award 2016 for Beach Cove Coastal Retreat overlooking Hele Bay in Ilfracombe, Devon.

    This latest award for Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat is another significant achievement for a design recognising the unique and particularly sensitive location of the park, situated in the north of the Lake District National Park surrounded by mountainous landscape and idyllic freshwater lakes.

    Congratulations to the entire team of expert professionals helping to deliver this winning environment, the RPS landscape architects, ecologists and arboriculturalists who worked closely together to form a naturalistic landscape setting to the new holiday park which included large areas of specially grown wildflower turf and a variety of native trees and shrubs.

    Remastering the future: bringing virtual reality into design projects

    06 November 2017

    Remastering the future: bringing virtual reality into design projects

    RPS Marketing Manager Stephen Henderson takes a virtual look at a project design.

    RPS has recently supported ITN Productions and The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) with the launch of their “Remastering the Future” series. The 12-episode news and current affairs style programme explores the opportunities, challenges and future of the UK construction industry.

    Our short film explores our latest innovation with the use of virtual reality to create an interactive and immersive design experience helping to lead the future of construction. RPS combines VR with BIM design technology, allowing clients to immerse themselves in and navigate through the project design.

    This technology can be highly beneficial for clients to help them understand, visualise and modify the design in the pre-construction phases; ensuring they get the best design whilst minimising waste, extra cost or delays that can occur by modifying at a later stage.

    Click the link to watch the full programme, or to skip straight to RPS’ film select Clip 10 using the playlist option on the right hand side.

    RPS continues to commit significant time and research into the expanding capabilities of this technology to ensure we remain at the forefront of both virtual and mixed reality for our industry. Michael Shaw, Managing Director for RPS in Northern Ireland, comments "I strongly believe in ensuring that we approach the next decade of digital transformation in a fashion that encourages and rewards innovation, and incorporates the latest advances in technology. We have introduced virtual and augmented reality into our business to enhance the client/user interface throughout the design process from project concept to operational and maintenance activities."

    Our capability has recently been strengthened by the appointment of a 3D Visual and Infrastructure Designer, who joins RPS with over 20 years’ experience in visual design, 3D virtual reality development and animation.

    The Opening of Mersey Gateway Bridge

    02 November 2017

    The Opening of Mersey Gateway Bridge

    The new Mersey Gateway Bridge to the east of Liverpool is open. The bridge opened to traffic at 00.01 on Saturday 14th October following an impressive fireworks display from the bridge.

    The new six lane toll bridge over the Mersey between the towns of Runcorn and Widnes will relieve the congested and ageing Silver Jubilee Bridge. The cable-stay bridge forms the iconic centrepiece of a new and improved high standard link road, 9.5km long, connecting the national motorway network in north Cheshire with Merseyside. The project includes the design, build, finance, operation and maintenance over the next 30 years of the new bridge and approach roads. It has been successfully completed after three and a half years and almost five million man hours during construction.

    RPS and Currie & Brown have acted as Lenders’ Technical Advisors (LTA) for client Macquarie Capital since 2013. This involved due diligence reporting of all the engineering proposals and associated risks on behalf of the major lenders and UK Government Treasury to achieve financial close in March 2014. In line with the construction phase appointment, we monitored and reported on the progress of the works against the contract programme and cost plan. This included updating forecasts of costs to completion and likely completion dates as well as reviewing design or construction quality or technical issues which arise during inspections.

    The bridge has a total length of 2.25km, including the north approach viaduct at 700m and the south approach viaduct at 545m, which also crosses the Manchester Ship Canal. The main bridge is a 1km cable-stay bridge, with four spans supported by cables from three pylons. Construction of the three pylons was completed in November 2016, the outer pylons are over 110m in height and the centre pylon is 80m. Construction of the concrete deck was by means of balanced cantilever methods. The approach viaduct decks were constructed using a Moveable Scaffolding System (MSS), a span by span concrete cast in place method with a forward launch procedure, facilitating casting of concrete sections up to 70m in length. Other works include the Astmoor & Bridgewater viaduct with deck construction using precast beams which were cast and shipped from Ireland, along with remedial works to over 10 existing bridges requiring deck waterproofing, bearing replacement and crash protection.

    The Mersey Gateway Project is expected to help create new jobs, secure inward investment to the area and deliver important regeneration benefits, including improved public transport links across the River Mersey.

    RPS Bridge Engineer Marcin Nikonowicz undertakes a site visit before the bridge opening.
    Engaging with the Workforce of the Future

    02 November 2017

    Engaging with the Workforce of the Future

    According to a recent report by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), there are current Skills shortages in STEM sectors which are representing a real threat to the UK’s capacity for growth. There is an increasing emphasis on inspiring young people to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics and RPS Belfast has always understood the value of continued learning for these students.

    As part of RPS Belfast’s school engagement and career development programme, a number of staff from our office showcased current engineering projects along with their immersive technologies at the recent Skills NI Event.

    “We know that younger generations have no inhibitions when it comes to trying something new especially the latest technology” says Mark Maguire, RPS 3D Visual Designer “This makes virtual reality an ideal approach to engage young students with the engineering world and promote it as a viable and appealing vocation.”

    Skills Northern Ireland, now in its second year saw almost 8,000 14-19-year-olds, Teachers and Parents visit the Titanic Exhibition Centre this October for an interactive look at careers ranging from Engineering, Medical, Manufacturing, Farming, to the Media and Military.

    Supported by local companies and government such as Northern Ireland Electricity, Northern Ireland Water, Belfast City Council and the Department for Economy, this event bridged the skills gap for Belfast and Northern Ireland’s young people with careers, jobs, skills and advice on apprenticeship schemes. Whether their career paths were already planned out, or if they had no idea what their future holds, many young students discovered new opportunities that they may have never considered, including that of Engineering and Science based professions.

    It’s estimated that around 87,000 job opportunities will become available in Northern Ireland across all sectors by 2026, with around 29,000 of these jobs needing to be filled by people leaving secondary education or apprenticeship schemes. (Ulster University’s “Skills in Demand” Report).

    As with many industries in Northern Ireland, there is a major demand for both civil and structural engineering skills. Over the last number of years, RPS Belfast has worked closely with the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) to offer several Work + places across our Maritime, Water Infrastructure, Waste and Geotechnical Engineering sectors.

    One of RPS’ Work+ students, Chris O'Donoghue, enjoys the flexibility of the scheme allowing him to balance study with gaining the work experience that helps give an edge in the tough recruitment market. "The ICE Work+ scheme has given me the opportunity to gain specific knowledge within the engineering sector” says Chris “I'm able to gain experience while continuing to study for industry recognised qualifications at college. I have also been able to experience working within an office environment from an early stage of my career, which will be hugely beneficial as I aim to develop within the engineering industry."

    Chris' mentor Jonathon McIlwaine explains "The Work+ scheme has allowed me to pass on my knowledge and experiences in order to help develop the engineers of the future, both professionally and personally. Not only has the scheme benefited the apprentice, but it has allowed me to further my own experiences in management and leadership within the industry."

    Whether the students choose to go to university or embark on an apprenticeship scheme often followed by a university degree, helping them choose the right career is the first step to determining what further learning they need to get there.

    RPS Advises on Ireland’s Construction Industry Register

    25 October 2017

    RPS Advises on Ireland’s Construction Industry Register

    Cormac Bradley, RPS Construction Manager and Executive Board Member of Engineers Ireland addressed the Oireachtas (Houses of Parliament) Joint Committee on the Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI) Bill this month.

    CIRI is a voluntary register of competent builders, contractors, specialist sub-contractors and tradespersons, administered by the Construction Industry Federation. It was established as a result of the consultation process on the Building Control Amendment Regulations (BC(A)R). The CIRI Bill would replace the voluntary register with a mandatory statutory register.

    Cormac attended the hearing with Engineers Ireland Director General, Caroline Spillane to outline Engineers Ireland’s support for the Bill, which they believe would promote a greater commitment to compliance with building regulations. This, they maintained, would promote greater safety and quality for the consumer and the wider public.

    The hearing was also attended by representatives of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) and the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI), who similarly support the idea of a statutory register.

    As a representative of Engineers Ireland, Cormac was involved in the original BC(A)R consultation process and a member of the Working Group that developed the suite of Ancillary Certificates. He is a recognised industry expert on BC(A)R and recently addressed a conference in Dublin on the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations & Key Implications for the Assigned Certifier. His current Assigned Certifier roles include pharmaceutical, commercial and healthcare projects.

    Engineering Triumph with Innovative Mooring for Historic Jutland Survivor

    20 October 2017

    Engineering Triumph with Innovative Mooring for Historic Jutland Survivor

    RPS’ Maritime team has been instrumental in the successful renovation of HMS Caroline, the only WW1 Battle of Jutland ship still afloat and the Battle’s last remaining survivor. The C-class light cruiser was launched in September 1914 and saw action in the infamous Battle of Jutland on May 31 1916 in which more than 7,000 lives were lost. She was the focus of international commemorations of the battle on May 31 last year. During WWII she served first as a depot ship for anti-submarine patrol vessels then a key strategic operations base for Destroyers and Corvettes protecting convoys in the North Atlantic. When she was decommissioned in 2011 she was the second-oldest ship in Royal Navy service.

    RPS engineers developed a highly complex permanent mooring system in Belfast’s Alexandra Dock to make the 4,000 tonne ship safe for the public and to protect her from lateral movements as she floats on the rising and falling tides. The historic fabric of Alexandra Dock in which the ship is moored is a scheduled ancient monument and the complications of attaching an equally important and iconic vessel required RPS engineers to undertake a very sensitive approach to the design. The historic nature of the dock structure, combined with the poor ground conditions surrounding the dock, required the installation of a piled foundation structure. This foundation system extends 30m below the surface and utilises ground anchors 35m long to provide lateral restraint to the ‘A’ frames on the dockside.

    Captain John Rees, OBE, Chief of Staff at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, in charge of the restoration and project work commented in May “We are very much looking forward to the reopening of HMS Caroline, particularly as it will now be entirely visitor safe and boast one of the most advanced mooring systems ever seen on the island of Ireland and possibly in the world.”

    The ship has been secured in the dock using two articulated steel ‘A’ frames. These allow the ship to rise and fall with the tides while preventing excessive lateral movement which could restrict public access to the ship. The attachment of the ‘A’ frames to the ship required careful consideration to ensure that the loads generated by wind and wave action were transferred through strong points in the vessel thereby avoiding damage to the historically significant ship.

    The ship which is considered to stand shoulder to shoulder with other world-famous historically significant ships including Lord Nelson’s Victory and Henry VIII’s Mary Rose, is now open to the public providing a five star tourist attraction.

    See also:

    Children’s Cardiac Unit in Dublin Shortlisted for Engineering Project of the Year

    19 October 2017

    Children’s Cardiac Unit in Dublin Shortlisted for Engineering Project of the Year

    The Cardiac Catheterisation Unit & Orthopaedic Theatre at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin (OLCHC) in Dublin has been shortlisted by Engineers Ireland for Engineering Project of the Year 2017. This award will be the subject of a public vote over the next month.

    The new facility is the only fully equipped paediatric cardiology service on the island of Ireland to diagnose and treat children with heart defects. The hybrid design allows the laboratory to be rapidly turned into a cardiac theatre thus permitting more complex interventions such as open heart surgery. The combination of catheterisation and operating facilities allows interventional cardiologists and surgeons to treat a child during a single procedure.

    This type of treatment can lead to faster recovery times, less tissue damage and reduced scarring. This is especially beneficial for newborns because it is less traumatic than traditional approaches. The new orthopaedic theatre complete with an ultra-clean ventilation system also doubles as part of the national action plan to reduce the number of patients on waiting lists for scoliosis treatment surgery. Scoliosis is a medical condition that causes the spine to progressively curve sideways and therefore requires early intervention in children.

    The design build project was delivered on time and within budget through the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) by an interdisciplinary project team including RPS as Mechanical and Electrical Consulting Engineers.

    Clancy was awarded the Design Build contract for the replacement of the existing OLCHC cardiac catheterisation laboratory in a live hospital environment. The project involved an extension to the operating theatre block to accommodate a hybrid cardiac catheterisation laboratory and ancillary facilities at first floor, suspended over an existing car park, a roof-top plant room and a link bridge. After construction had commenced, the project was extended to include an orthopaedic theatre at the same elevated level as the new catheterisation laboratory and the existing operating theatres.

    The national importance of the project combined with the highly complex spatial limitations created an opportunity for innovative solutions and creative thinking. Using BIM as a combined project tool, facility design was carried out in a Federated BIM Level 2 Model. The project team created a digital prototype of the building and facilitated simultaneous rather than sequential integration of engineered systems (M&E), structural and architectural disciplines. This resulted in great precision and efficiency and enabled successful compression of the construction window.

    Particular innovations in mechanical and electrical design were achieved on this project. Air distribution and thermal control were of particular importance given the age profile of the patients being treated and the air distribution pattern is critical to the hospital’s infection control department. The complexity and volume of medical equipment in the catheterisation laboratory required 3D modelling of all equipment and highly detailed design in both plan and elevation to ensure that the scanner rails, lighting and medical pendant positions, both in use and parked, would not interfere with the air distribution patterns. The design of the air conditioning system provided for indirect heat recovery from air being discharged.

    Key complexities arose from undertaking a construction contract within a live operational hospital where all the activities are patient centric. The site management team were uncompromising in implementing all the required health and safety protocols. In terms of healthcare asset creation and management this is a critical new national facility, planned, designed and constructed in the most efficient and cost effective manner to meet current acute hospital care for children.

    To vote for your Engineering Project of the Year, follow the link below and choose your favourite project before 27th October:

    RPS Manages Delivery of City’s Tallest Resi Tower

    16 October 2017

    RPS Manages Delivery of City’s Tallest Resi Tower

    RPS is project managing the transformation of Birmingham’s Tramps nightclub into a 132m high, 42-storey complex of private rental des-res apartments – the tallest ever residential tower for the UK city.

    Birmingham City Council is considering the plans for the £183m 2one2 Broad Street scheme from Moda Living which will deliver 481 high-quality apartments of varying types, including studios and three-bedroom apartments. Ideally located for the city’s professionals in the centre of Birmingham, opposite Brindley Place and its popular canal-side complex, the development contributes to the wider regeneration of Broad Street whilst complementing the existing architecture of Birmingham’s designated tall building zone.

    Lee Savage, Development Director at Moda Living said, “The Moda Living model of single landlord ownership and taking a 360° lifestyle approach – covering everything from work to working out - will help deliver more choice of fantastic homes to the residents of Birmingham.”

    RPS Operations Director, Steven Kelly lauds the scheme as “a real opportunity to develop a long-term community in an area of Birmingham that hasn’t yet fulfilled its potential. With Brindley Place so close, this Broad Street development will help support the city centre workforce and restore Broad Street’s vibrancy.”

    The development provides 30,000ft2 of amenity space and 35,000ft2 of retail, leisure and office space in the three-storey podium levels, a rooftop running circuit, and a hotel-styled lobby and 24-hour concierge service. It is designed by Glenn Howells Architects. A key principle of the scheme is to enhance resident community whilst also delivering high-quality living space by providing a subtly balanced mix of leisure, shopping and workspace within the same complex. It is delivered as part of Moda’s partnership with Apache Capital Partners investing £1.5bn into realising around 6,000 PRS units in prime UK locations, joining other key PRS schemes currently in development that are owned and operated by Moda Living. Construction is scheduled to begin next year, with a three-year completion timetable.

    RPS Joins UK Public Sector National Consultants Framework

    16 October 2017

    RPS Joins UK Public Sector National Consultants Framework

    RPS has been awarded a place on the Fusion21 Consultant’s Framework to provide project and programme management, building services, environmental and principal designer services. The framework is a comprehensive offer for the public sector, with a direct focus on professional construction related services.

    Fusion21 is a national procurement organisation with over 350 members. It provides a full suite of procurement services and OJEU compliant frameworks for sectors including Education, Blue Light, Health, Social Housing and Local Authorities, driving value for money in terms of cost, quality and social value. Fusion21 have delivered more than £147m savings through the procurement process, saving members as much as 30% on market prices.

    The new consultancy framework allows RPS to build on its already extensive track record in the public sector as well as providing a key platform to deliver even more services to new and existing clients.

    “We look forward to working with Fusion21 over the next four years to offer high quality services and cost savings to public sector clients throughout the UK” says RPS Framework Director Harpal Singh Virdi “It offers us an exciting opportunity to build on our already strong foundations of delivering quality and expert professional consultancy services to new and existing clients and further developing our business relationships in the public sector.”

    RPS Highly Commended at BCI Awards

    13 October 2017

    RPS Highly Commended at BCI Awards

    The 30th Anniversary British Construction Industry Awards were held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane, London last night celebrating the very best innovations in recent British construction projects. The event was hosted by the Institute of Civil Engineers and New Civil Engineer. Six companies were Highly Commended as close runners-up within the 13 project categories.

    RPS was Highly Commended for the Community Engagement Initiative of the Year for our Western Counties Community Engagement Initiative (Armagh, Londonderry, Tyrone and Fermanagh) for the Gas to the West project. RPS provided planning, stakeholder engagement, environmental and engineering services from a team led by the Belfast office for this high pressure gas pipeline project to deliver gas supplies to Northern Ireland’s four western counties. Construction of the 200km pipeline is well underway with the first domestic consumer connected earlier this month.

    RPS was also shortlisted for the Application of Technology Award for our successful application of complex BIM technology design on the M8/M73/M74 Raith Interchange which ensured that traffic flow could continue with minimal disruption almost entirely throughout the construction of this major motorway improvement scheme. RPS’ Galway office was engaged on the project as a part of the multinational consortium partnering with Ferrovial, Lagan and Amey. The scheme completed earlier this year and comprises a three-level interchange and all associated highways network and infrastructure including a 600m long underpass, realigned roundabout, cycleways, bridges and junctions. It is also shortlisted for the Saltire Civil Engineering Awards (ICE Scotland and Saltire) in Edinburgh later this month.

    The Cornwall Energy Recovery Centre (CERC) was shortlisted for Major Building Project of the Year (over £50m). The 240,000tpa Energy from Waste facility was designed by RPS’ Newark office has been operational since earlier this year and can power around 21,000 homes. It has an on-site recycling plant with facility for converting ash from the process into highways aggregate and a purpose-built visitor centre.

    RPS Europe CEO Trevor Hoyle said “It is a great recognition of the incredible hard work, creative thinking and professional skill that RPS and its project partners have dedicated to these key projects and we are very proud of their achievements.”

    Images courtesy of SUEZ Recycling and Recovery UK Ltd.
    RPS is First Business Accredited by Dutch Accreditation Council to Test for Chromium VI in Paint

    09 October 2017

    RPS is First Business Accredited by Dutch Accreditation Council to Test for Chromium VI in Paint

    Testing for chromium VI is not an unnecessary luxury in the inspection of engineering works.

    The law does not currently require chromium VI exposure testing to be performed by an accredited laboratory. However, increasingly more clients are explicitly expressing their preference for this. RPS is the first company in the Netherlands to be accredited by the Dutch Accreditation Council for the determination of chromium VI in paint. As a result, the quality of these procedures will also be guaranteed in the future by independent external parties.

    Chromium VI in the paint industry

    Chromium VI has been used in the paint and steel industry for decades. This produced variant of natural chromium easily binds to all types of metals and can be processed in wood, paint, and plastic, among other things. It offers extra firmness and protection against corrosion. It is not harmful in solid form, but when it is released as a substance, even a small amount can be carcinogenic. Companies working on old metal coated with chromium VI-based paint are especially at risk.


    The EU restricts the use of chromium VI in metal treatment; use is subject to authorisation. This will significantly reduce the quantity of chromium VI-treated products and objects on the market. However, the industry will continue to be confronted by the challenges that old chromium VI-based coatings present in the decades to come. Companies are advised to determine whether chromium VI-based coatings have been applied to the object. RPS analysts can test samples in their own laboratories to determine the concentration of this toxic substance. Based on the results, a personal protection regime can then be put in place.

    Occupational exposure

    Clients who work with accredited companies are assured of proper compliance with the measurement protocols used in the exposure test. In addition to accreditation for testing for chromium VI in paint, RPS already has an accreditation for chromium VI analysis in air. An overview of the accredited operations is available at (Dutch link, English language optional) under registration number L192. The limit for occupational exposure to chromium VI was reduced by a factor of 10 on 1 March 2017. This requires rigorous focus on the concentration of chromium VI in the workplace. Some of the tested workplaces, for example, must be retested against the current requirements.

    Chromium VI has been used in the paint and steel industry for decades.

    Publication of health effects

    The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) has published the scientific literature review of the effects of chromium VI on human health. The RIVM examined, among other things, the diseases that are likely to be caused by chromium VI. This is an important step towards clarity for all concerned.

    Engagement with Education

    05 October 2017

    Engagement with Education

    Image: Pixabay/Geralt

    STEM is an important learning feature for businesses as well as schools.

    STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, is now the leading buzzword in UK schools. STEM is an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to learning that provides hands-on and relevant learning experiences for students. It engages students and equips them with critical thinking, problem solving, creative and collaborative skills, and ultimately establishes connections between the school, work place, community and the global economy. Taking this into account, we don’t tend to think of it as something that is particularly relevant to the corporate business world. However, as Corporate Social Responsibility is becoming a focus point for employers, an increased number of companies are not only getting on board with STEM and other educational relationships, but finding it is very much a two-way path. It’s not only what your business can do for local schools, and indeed colleges and universities, but what they can do for you.

    Professional bodies are already well into the lead with formalising this. ICE NI G&S actively promote industry engagement in STEM activities. RPS’ Dr. Grainne McQuaid is the current ICE Graduate and Students Chairperson for Northern Ireland and works flexibly around the needs of her roles. Within this role Grainne has led a committee in organising events for ICE graduates and students including training evenings, competitions, social events and a well-attended conference on 'Digital Transformation', where RPS also provided a workshop on our use of VR technology. She has provided presentations and speed mentoring to university students as a part of her ICE STEM engagement – demonstrating the working life of a civil engineer and the opportunities available within a multidisciplinary organisation. A number of these STEM events have focused particularly on encouraging women into STEM careers, which is becoming increasingly more important than ever with the growing skills shortage within industry. Grainne, along with RPS colleagues represented RPS and ICE at the two-day Skills NI careers event in Belfast which was attended by over 7,500 students and teachers.

    Close work with universities has helped us share key research resources and new ways of thinking: currently through our PhD coordination with Delft Technical University reviewing water safety geotechnics and through collaboration with Western Australian final year high school students to survey introduced marine species in Casuarina Harbour and Koombana Bay. Students have the benefit of working directly with and learning from professionals as well as using latest technology data capture instruments and RPS has the benefit of a fresh input from the perspective of the latest educational viewpoints and standards.

    Many businesses already have a number of staff who are very active in their local primary/elementary and secondary/high schools, ranging from school governors to voluntary lesson and activities assistance. Until quite recently this was just what people did, but now companies can be encouraged to celebrate this properly as not only does it tick CSR boxes, but it makes us look at the relationships we have with the schools through this.

    Above all else, STEM doesn’t have to be a tedious subject! Some of RPS’ most popular educational events have included showcasing VR at careers events with the VR attracting thousands of stand visitors, and demonstrating balloon kebabs at the Institute of Physics, ‘Physics in the Field’ day where James Daley and colleagues from our Warrington Risk office regularly demonstrate Physics experiments to family audiences. The Warrington Risk team also attend an annual STEM event at a local school, with increased popularity each year, with the teachers stating the students "were buzzing around school talking about the RPS Risk Stand" for weeks afterwards. How many new risk consultants might join RPS in coming years citing their career inspiration as watching RPS’ science demonstrations?!

    RPS Sponsoring Industrial Fire and Risk Event

    04 October 2017

    RPS Sponsoring Industrial Fire and Risk Event

    RPS Risk will be sponsoring and presenting at IFE Nuclear Power – the Industrial Fire and Risk Special Interest Group Colloquium in Wales this month.

    The colloquium is a significant learning and CPD event for colleagues involved or wishing to understand more about the nuclear power - fire and risk industry, and how these lessons can be applied in other areas of industry.

    With over 24 local and international fire engineering and fire services experts presenting at the event, including RPS Fire Consultant, James Daley who will be presenting his article on ‘Safety System Fire Analysis’ (also mentioned in the August 2017 issue of the ‘International Fire Professional – The Journal of the Institute of Fire Engineers’).

    RPS Risk is sponsoring the colloquium, and our fire engineering consultants will welcome all delegates to stop for an informal discussion throughout the event. Encouraged by RPS, many of our fire engineers are pursuing Chartership status and attendance at this event will provide them with the much needed continuous professional development to meet Institution requirements.

    The event is taking place from October 17th-19th, at Bangor University, North Wales. More details can be found on the IFE website.

    RPS is Biggest Riser in Building’s Top 150 Consultants

    29 September 2017

    RPS is Biggest Riser in Building’s Top 150 Consultants

    RPS has ranked high in three of Building Magazine’s Top 150 Consultants league tables for 2017 representing the leading consultancies for chartered building and engineering services in the UK.

    RPS comes straight in at number 9 for the Top 50 Chartered Engineering practices and also ranks at 13 in the Top 150 Firms line-up and 13th for Project Management, with over 65% of our UK building and engineering staff comprising chartered professionals. This is the first year that RPS Group has submitted responses to the annual Building Magazine Surveys for the Building Top 150 Consultants and the Building Good Employer Guide (yet to be published).

    Over 500 firms were contacted by construction intelligence service Barbour ABI for this year’s Building’s Top Consultants Survey and the results are ranked according to total number of chartered employees. The survey focussed on numbers of chartered building and engineering professionals employed and figures do not take into account numbers of chartered environmental, landscape design or planning professionals.

    RPS Europe CEO, Trevor Hoyle said, “We are delighted to have contributed to Building Magazine’s annual league tables and proud to have figured so highly. This is reflective of the high quality people that define our high quality business.”

    See report here.

    Phased Approaches to Offshore Wind Developments and Use of the Project Design Envelope

    26 September 2017

    Phased Approaches to Offshore Wind Developments and Use of the Project Design Envelope

    Photo of Block Island Wind Farm construction in August 2016 taken as part of the Real-time Opportunity for Development Environmental Observations (RODEO) study by HDR Engineering staff.

    RPS Ocean Science in Rhode Island and RPS Energy in the UK teamed together to complete a one-year study for the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) on behalf of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) investigating how phased approaches to offshore wind development and the use of the Project Design Envelope (PDE) could be applied to offshore wind developments in the U.S.

    The objective was to utilize lessons learned from phased approaches in the U.K., examine the current approach to phased development within the Construction and Operations Plan (COP) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, and make recommendations as to how such approaches might be adopted by the U.S. offshore wind sector and by BOEM in their permitting process.

    The main elements of the study included:

    A review of selected offshore wind case studies to examine different approaches to phased development in the U.K. including the overall approach taken, the project design envelope presented and an analysis of the risk and benefits of each approach;

    A review of the ‘Survey, Deploy and Monitor’ (SDM) policy developed to support the consenting of marine renewables projects in Scotland and its applicability to offshore wind;

    A review and comparison of U.K. and U.S. offshore wind regulations and permitting processes;

    An examination of the current approaches to phased development in the U.S., and

    Three briefing notes summarizing the results of the initial research and a technical report summarizing the final findings and making recommendations on the implementation of phased approaches in NEPA documents, particularly the COP.

    The study also included two workshops, including a full day workshop held at the BOEM offices in Sterling, VA and attended by both Jill Rowe (RPS Ocean Science) and Adam Payne (RPS Energy) and a webinar hosted by RPS. Jill Rowe and Adam Payne also attended the final meeting to present the results of the study. The workshops and final meeting were well attended by BOEM staff from a number of different departments.

    The results of the study were used to inform a Department of Interior (DOI) action to evaluate a “Design Envelope” Approach under the National Offshore Wind Strategy. The study report is now published on the BOEM website at

    The project has provided a great opportunity for RPS offices in the US and the UK to combine and provide advice to government on the ongoing development of the emerging US offshore wind sector.

    Solar Initiative Delivers Solution Sunny Side Up

    20 September 2017

    Solar Initiative Delivers Solution Sunny Side Up

    As reported in The Queensland Times, a solar project developed for Queensland egg producer Sunny Queen Australia by Solar Choice is set to provide 'eggscellent' outcomes for not only the company but also its staff.

    In what is one of the first “long line” solar car parks of its kind in the state, Ipswich City Council approved a development application for a large commercial solar project at Sunny Queen’s Carole Park distribution centre that will double as shade and weather protection for staff vehicles.

    RPS Planning Principal Simon Pollock, who was in charge of the planning application, said the shade structure to be constructed in the 60-space car park would include 90 metres of solar PV panelling: “This is the first solar project in Queensland where one continuous line of PV panelling will be installed in a staff car park. It’s a unique and alternative approach to creating opportunities for solar energy generation. Not only will this benefit staff by providing protection for their cars from hail storms but it also provides a renewable energy source for the business – and the cost of the shade structure will eventually be paid back through savings in energy costs.”

    Construction on the project began in January and includes a 100kW solar system that will generate about 450kW hours per day. The solar PV panels are equipped with tempered glass casing to protect the cells underneath and can withstand most weather events including hail storms, according to solar energy broker Solar Choice.

    Sunny Queen Australia's Managing Director John O'Hara welcomed this solar initiative.
    "Sunny Queen has a proud pedigree of innovation, not only across all of the new products and meal solutions we develop for our customers, but in the systems and processes that enable us to deliver these innovations to the market,” he said “Sustainable energy sources play a critical role in business growth, and this solar project is an important part of that strategy."

    Simon encouraged other businesses and local councils to take inspiration from the Sunny Queen Farms project and consider more opportunities for innovative projects of this kind: “Most local councils are very supportive of solar projects but the regulations within existing planning schemes vary dramatically, making it difficult for project proponents to understand how these projects will be assessed. The process can also be very complex for a business wanting to utilise solar power and it can take quite some time to get a development application approved, but the outcomes are worth it. It would be great to see the State or Federal Governments provide further incentives or policy direction in support of renewable energy to encourage the development of solar initiatives.”

    RPS is currently working on several large scale solar farm projects around Australia and has contributed to the approval of solar farms generating more than 3,500 Megawatts and covering close to 15,000 hectares of land.

    Ireland’s First National Mitigation Plan on Climate Change

    12 September 2017

    Ireland’s First National Mitigation Plan on Climate Change

    Ireland’s first National Mitigation Plan on climate change was published on the 19th July this year and represents a huge initial step to set Ireland on a pathway to achieve the level of decarbonisation required and transition to a low carbon, climate-resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by 2050. This is a very important first step by the Irish government in what will be a long journey with many different and complex elements to consider along the way.

    RPS carried out the Strategic Environmental Assessment and Appropriate Assessment of the National Mitigation Plan on behalf of the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment. The Strategic Environmental Assessment and Appropriate Assessment were critical inputs to the development of the plan. Both documents ensured that environmental concerns were integrated into the decision-making and implementation process at both sectoral and national level.

    Some of the proposals within the plan include:

    To reduce motorway speed limits from 120km/h to 110km/h for cars and from 90km/h to 80 km/h for heavy goods vehicles

    Decarbonising Electricity Generation

    Electrification of the rail line to Balbriggan

    Further incentives for low-emission vehicles (including electric vehicles)

    Continuation of Agricultural Decarbonisation Measures

    To support this ongoing work, the Plan includes over 100 individual actions for various ministers and public bodies to take forward in the move to implementation of what will be a living document. Importantly, the Irish government recognises that this first Plan does not provide a complete roadmap to achieve the 2050 objective, but begins the process of development of medium to long term mitigation choices for the next and future decades.

    Hornsea Project 2: World’s Largest Wind Farm Secures Contract

    12 September 2017

    Hornsea Project 2: World’s Largest Wind Farm Secures Contract

    Orsted (formerly DONG Energy) has secured a Contract for Difference to build Hornsea Project 2 at the UK’s lowest-ever price for offshore wind. Hornsea Project 2 is set to be the world’s largest wind farm with a 1386MW capacity, 89km from the Yorkshire coast and capable of powering more than 1.3m UK homes. It is set to provide up to 2000 jobs during construction phase, and up to 130 permanent posts once operational from 2022. A combination of scale economy, proven high quality experience and ongoing investment in renewables innovation ensured the success of the bid.

    Orsted UK Managing Director Matthew Wright announced the contract award saying ““This is a breakthrough moment for offshore wind in the UK and a massive step forward for the industry. Not only will Hornsea Project Two provide low cost, clean energy to the UK, it will also deliver high quality jobs and another huge boost to the UK supply chain.”

    “Successive governments deserve great credit for providing the certainty for continued investment in offshore wind, enabling it to become the thriving renewable industry it is today. Costs are falling rapidly, long-term and highly-skilled jobs are being created across the North of England and the UK supply chain is going from strength to strength. We’re now really seeing the benefits of this commitment to offshore wind and there is still so much more to come. Indeed, it has the potential to play a key part in the realisation of the UK’s industrial strategy.”

    Development Consent for Hornsea Project Two was granted on 16th August 2016 with RPS leading the offshore and onshore EIA to support the application comprising a range of marine and terrestrial, human, biological and physical environment specialist topics. RPS’ services included infrastructure planning services, public and stakeholder consultation, and completion of the Preliminary Environmental Information Report (PEIR), Draft Environmental Assessment and Final Environmental Statement. RPS further provided client services including expert witnesses for the Examination.

    Collaboration Completing the Circle of Care

    23 August 2017

    Collaboration Completing the Circle of Care

    RPS is collaborating with a number of other leading businesses to ensure the most cost-effective delivery of a vital community feature: what will be the first children’s hospice building in north and central London.

    Our London Cannon Street office has been providing pro-bono advisory services to Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice since 2015 as it works to achieve the realisation of a physical hospice facility in Barnet. The organisation has already established a valuable ‘hospice-at home’ service in Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey, Hertsmere and Islington supporting children with life-limiting and life-threatening illnesses and their families within the comfort of their own homes since 2006. It is currently supporting around 200 families in their homes within north and central London where more than 1,200 babies, children and young people are living with such illnesses. Once the building is completed then Noah’s Ark expect to be able to provide care for 450 children and their families on-site, as well as significantly expanding their service delivery capability off-site.

    Noah’s Ark invested in the site in 2010 with a vision to provide the hospice building. It started consulting with a wide range of people from families using its ‘hospice-at-home’ service to local residents, healthcare professionals and the construction industry to formulate the ambitious development plan and the effective path to realise it. Main contractor 8build is seeking partners both within its existing supply chain and others it has not worked with before, asking businesses to offer their services to help the project. The entire project cost would be over £7m, but a combination of freely donated service input offered by several keen supporting companies and a strong organising team working hard to get the best from the project is ensuring more can be achieved and within a lower budget. Not least of all is some serious fundraising from local businesses and business chains to increase the investment in the hospice.

    Otherwise, the project is following the usual route for a large healthcare development with all the usual planning requirements and work packages advertised via the normal tender route. The construction of the facility will receive no government funding and all cost savings are being valued and invested carefully into the organisations care delivery.

    Already known as “The Ark”, the facility will be set on a 7.5-acre nature reserve in Barnet and will be a home from home for children who are seriously unwell, where they will be given the time and space to be children and not just patients. It will provide an inspiring facility for relaxing, adventure and for children and their families to connect with others facing similar challenges.

    The site is a sloping greenfield plot on the edge of Barnet town – possibly placing more obligations on the organisation as regards due diligence and sensitive design, but Noah’s Ark and its project team are excited about embracing the full environmental scope of the site. The plan is for a state-of-the-art facility with a very natural look and feel to its exterior using oak, and plenty of full-length windows to embrace the natural light and incredible views. The key feature is not only the views of the greenspace but the access to relax in it, explore it, and above all enjoy it.

    At the heart of the facility, an airy barn-styled atrium will open into four outstretched arms: offering children’s accommodation, family accommodation, office areas, play areas and therapy rooms. The slope of the site has allowed for a design where one end of the building will be two-storeys with the upper storey enjoying as much of a feeling of the greenspace outside as the ground floor.

    ‘I don’t see this as a standalone programme’ says Ru Watkins, Chief Executive of Noah’s Ark, ‘it’s very much a partnership’. With so much interest and input, Ru is correct, as RPS Director Neil Andrews sums up: ‘We’re trying to achieve something quite special here: collaboration’. Construction is scheduled to start in September 2017 with a 65-week build time-plan.

    RPS’ project management, cost and building consultancy team, based on Cannon Street, London are working with the charity to fundraise and support the construction - both financially and where possible, with the resourcing - of what will be a life-changing facility for many.

    Supporting Businesses include:

    RPS Consulting Services Ltd Jones Lang LaSalle UK 8build
    Sellar Property Group Pears Property Ramboll
    Gensler Squire & Partners Hok
    Erith Demolition

    See also:

    Here’s the link to Daniel Kemp’s (Construction News) post on Twitter which highlights the @BuildingArk handle:

    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.

    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 is First Pick for North Queensland Stadium Team

    20 July 2017

    RPS is First Pick for North Queensland Stadium Team

    RPS has been named as a key member of the multidisciplinary consultancy team that will deliver the much-anticipated North Queensland Stadium project in Townsville, Australia.

    Acting Queensland Premier, Curtis Pitt and Federal Minister for Cities, Angus Taylor, joined with Townsville City Mayor, Jenny Hill, to reveal the winning concept design, along with the team of consultants that will collaborate on the facility’s delivery, led by Cox Architecture.

    RPS will provide surveying and landscape architecture services to support the $250 million development, and RPS General Manager for Townsville, Mark Carter, says his team’s appointment is a natural continuation of many years of work on the site.

    “The area of the city that will host the new stadium has been under-utilised for a long time, and our Surveying and Mapping team has completed a range of survey and investigative works for other proposed uses for the land over the years,” he explains.

    “When the stadium was first proposed, the Department of State Development called on us to undertake early survey works for the site – information that has been critical to the development of the incredible design that was revealed yesterday.”

    Designed by Cox Architecture in partnership with RPS and other locally based firms including 9Point9 Architecture and ARUP, the winning proposal takes inspiration from the Pandanus tree that is endemic to the region and provides practical solutions to the challenges posed by Townsville’s tropical climate.

    An innovative roof structure will offer shade to 80 per cent of the seats, while being resistant to extreme weather events like cyclones.

    “It’s a highly advanced design from an engineering standpoint, and the highest possible standards have been set for the stadium’s environmental sustainability, amenity and aesthetics,” Mr Carter says.

    “Our surveyors and landscape architects are experts in local environments, conditions and delivery, and the team is really looking forward to turning the vision for North Queensland Stadium into a reality.”

    Read Acting Premier and Minister for Arts, The Hon Curtis Pitt's announcement about North Queensland Stadium here

    Image: Concept design is revealed by (L-R) Matthew Scott, North Queensland Cowboys, Richard Coulson, Cox Architecture, Zammi Rohan, 9Point9, Mark Carter, RPS, Michael Morgan, North Queensland Cowboys.
    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.

    Examining how Changing Climate Could Affect Wastewater Management

    05 July 2017

    Examining how Changing Climate Could Affect Wastewater Management

    RPS assists in conducting Rhode Island Climate Change study.

    Working with project partner Woodard and Curran, and in coordination with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) and the RI Bays, Rivers and Watersheds Coordination Team, RPS recently conducted a vulnerability assessment of the potential effects of climate change on Rhode Island’s wastewater collection and treatment infrastructure.

    The results of this study will be used to recommend physical and operational strategies to manage adverse impacts to wastewater treatment facilities, collection systems and the Narragansett Bay Commission’s Combined Sewer Overflow tunnel system.

    RIDEM released a targeted website providing access to the study results as well as community profile data, interactive maps and perspectives from wastewater treatment plant operators. The press release is attached here.

    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

    09 June 2017

    RPS advises Baird Capital During its Successful Corporate Acquisition Kay R

    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.

    European Green Capital Award 2019 & European Green Leaf Award 2018 Announced

    09 June 2017

    European Green Capital Award 2019 & European Green Leaf Award 2018 Announced

    The Norwegian city of Oslo has won the European Green Capital Award for 2019. Two cities were awarded the title of European Green Leaf 2018, the Belgian city of Leuven and the Swedish city of Växjö. These prestigious titles were awarded by the EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, in Germany last week.

    The European Green Capital Award and the European Green Leaf Award recognise a city's commitment to a better urban environment. Cities with populations over 100,000 inhabitants are eligible to apply for the European Green Capital Award whereas the European Green Leaf Award is open to cities of between 20,000 and up to 100,000 inhabitants. As Secretariat for both awards, RPS manages the competition across the 28 Member States on behalf of the European Commission (DG Environment).

    European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Mr Karmenu Vella presenting the 2019 European Green Capital Award to Oslo’s Governing Mayor, Mr Raymond Johansen (Image: Rupert Oberhäuser)

    Winning cities must demonstrate well-established records of high environmental standards and a commitment to setting ambitious goals for future environmental progress, underpinned by the practical application of sustainable development. The awards have a particular focus on green growth and job creation. Winners act as ambassadors to inspire other cities and to promote best practices in pursuit of sustainable urban development. Oslo impressed the jury by working systematically to re-open waterways with 3,000 re-opened so far. Leuven focused on climate change and introduced actions to achieve its goal to be carbon neutral by 2030, whereas Växjö demonstrated strong leadership in sustainable development.

    Commissioner Vella presenting the 2018 European Green Leaf Award to Leuven’s Deputy Mayor, Mr Mohamed Ridouani and Växjö (Sweden) Mayor, Ms Anna Tenje (Image: Rupert Oberhäuser)

    Commissioner Vella said “I am delighted to be awarding the tenth European Green Capital Award and the fourth and fifth European Green Leaf Awards. More than two thirds of Europeans live in our cities and towns. The European Green Capital award shows us that cities can grow in size while keeping their green hearts beating. Good urban planning grows each time one city inspires another - that is the secret of the Green Capital Award.”

    Since the launch of the awards in 2008, ten cities have now won the European Green Capital Award: Stockholm (2010), Hamburg (2011), Vitoria-Gasteiz (2012), Nantes (2013), Copenhagen (2014), Bristol (2015), Ljubljana (2016), Essen (2017), Nijmegen (2018) and Oslo (2019).

    Five cities have now won a European Green Leaf award. In 2015 – the first year of the competition – Mollèt del Valles (Spain) and Torres Vedras (Portugal) received the award, followed by Galway (2017). The European Green Leaf Award 2018 goes to the cities of Leuven and Växjö.

    RPS manages the delivery of the two competitions as well as public awareness aspects. The competitions are annual events with the call for applications launching each May and the winning cities announced the following year in June.

    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

    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.

    Silver Award for RPS Texas Gulf Coast Report

    25 May 2017

    Silver Award for RPS Texas Gulf Coast Report

    RPS’ Houston-based infrastructure team has garnered a Silver Medal in the American Council of Engineering Companies ‘Texas Engineering Excellence Awards 2017’ for its environmental report submitted as part of the Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District’s (GCCPRD) monumental Storm Surge Suppression Study.

    The GCCPRD initiated its Storm Surge Suppression Study in the fall of 2014 to investigate the feasibility of reducing the vulnerability of the upper Texas coast to storm surge and flood damage.

    Our engineers were engaged to analyze the environmental constraints of the region as a key part of the study. The environmental report entailed a data-intensive and technology-intensive process to produce more than 40 maps illustrating environmental constraints over 4,300 square miles. The maps detailed wetlands, threatened and endangered species habitats, floodplains, coastal barriers, essential fish habitat, historic sites, wildlife refuges and state parks, hazardous materials, contaminated sites, water quality and tidal flow.

    The massive environmental evaluation played an essential role in formulating a cutting-edge solution that will help protect essential infrastructure and the people of the six-county area, while ensuring sustainability for Galveston Bay. Once constructed, storm surge protection will include a structure only found in one other location worldwide and nowhere else yet in North America.

    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

    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.

    GMIT & RPS Win Excellence in Education and Training Award

    10 May 2017

    GMIT & RPS Win Excellence in Education and Training Award

    GMIT and RPS were awarded the Excellence in Education and Training Award at the Irish Construction Industry Awards last night for “A Collaborative Academia-Industry Approach to Developing a Higher Education Programme in Building Information Modelling”.

    Willie Madden (RPS), Mark Costello (RPS), Gerard Nicholson (GMIT) and Dr. Mark Kelly (GMIT)

    The development, piloting and delivery of the Higher Diploma in Engineering in BIM (Level 8) used an innovative educational approach informed by GMIT-RPS collaboration. A reciprocal learning framework was developed to merge industry best practice and feedback, curriculum innovation and evidence-based research into a set of learning resources for the Higher Diploma in Engineering in BIM. The learning environment encourages students to work as co-producers of knowledge to continuously improve the programme and address the interdisciplinary nature of BIM.

    To date over 80 RPS staff have undertaken modules on this new programme. Five people from our Galway office were the first to graduate from the course last November. Mark Costello, Lisa Haverty, Desmond Keane, David McHugh and Agnieszka Niedziela all graduated with honours.

    Des Keane, Agnieszka Niedziela, David McHugh, Willie Madden, Lisa Haverty, Mark Costello

    BIM focuses on creating a collaborative working environment, which places a digital model at the epicentre of the design, construction and operational process. This shared knowledge resource aims to form a reliable basis for decision-making during the life cycle of a project from earliest conception to ultimate end-of -life. BIM processes enable team members to explore a project’s key physical and functional characteristics digitally before it is built, helping to deliver projects faster, more economically and with reduced environmental impact.

    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


    Key Waters to Run Deep for UK’s Largest Whitefish and Pelagic Port

    04 May 2017

    Key Waters to Run Deep for UK’s Largest Whitefish and Pelagic Port

    Peterhead Port redevelopment in Scotland will give more access for larger vessels.

    RPS Belfast’s Ports and Harbours team is acting as Client Designer, PM and Contract Administrator for the largest infrastructure project in the history of Peterhead Port, valued at over £50 million.

    RPS’ Port team has been involved from the early stages of the project, which is of strategic importance to the economy in the North East of Scotland as a major player in the fishing oil and gas and decommissioning industries and which has now commenced on site. Peterhead Port Authority (PPA) Chief Executive Ian Laidlaw said: “This allowed us to progress with the £50 million redevelopment of the harbour and the extension and upgrading of the Greenhill fish market. This is our biggest single investment in modern times and ensures Peterhead will remain as Europe’s premier white-fish port.”

    The Aberdeenshire port’s ambition to deepen the inner harbours and create a bigger fish market was among 65 Scottish projects sharing an £11.4 million pot announced by Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing earlier this year. As well as creating deep water access to the inner harbours, realignment of key structures will improve access to the inner harbours to facilitate larger and deeper drafted vessels. In particular access will be improved to the proposed new and upgraded fish market in the North Harbour.

    The increased capacity and improved facilities at the new market will capitalise on the recent record landings and strong prices seen in recent months. Work commenced in the middle of October 2016 with the project due to be complete in April 2018.

    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.

    Award winning Landscape Architecture

    27 April 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.

    Cornwall Energy Recovery Centre Completes

    25 April 2017

    Cornwall Energy Recovery Centre Completes

    Cornwall’s impressive Energy Recovery Centre is now complete and operational.

    Images courtesy of SUEZ Recycling and Recovery UK Ltd.

    The Energy from Waste facility near St Dennis in Cornwall has the capacity to treat 240,000 tonnes per year of the waste left over after recycling. The plant will generate electricity sufficient to power the equivalent of 21,000 homes. There is an adjacent bottom ash recycling facility with a capacity for the treatment, storage and onward transfer of approximately 65,000 tonnes per year (of which approximately 10% is recovered as ferrous & non-ferrous metals). The main energy from waste plant building has a curved roof rising to a maximum height of 45m with a separate bottom ash treatment building about 20m high.

    RPS designed the buildings for VINCI Environment UK. RPS’ services include lead designer, architecture, civil and structural engineering, building services design and fire engineering. Design commenced in March 2013 and the facility was complete and operational by March 2017.

    RPS to Sit on CIRIA Project Steering Group for Contaminated Sediments

    20 April 2017

    RPS to Sit on CIRIA Project Steering Group for Contaminated Sediments

    RPS has been invited to sit on the Project Steering Group for CIRIA’s new research project on risk assessment and remediation for contaminated sediments. Our role on the Project Steering Group is to advise and guide CIRIA and the research contractor on technical accuracy, the objectiveness and usefulness of the project and its output.

    Contaminated sediments have the potential to pose a risk to human health and the environment and to impact commercial, recreational, and navigational uses of waterways.

    Certain contaminants such as PAH, Tributyltin compounds, mercury compounds, heavy metals and radioactive particles are often found in sediment. Over time whilst the volume of contaminants entering our Rivers has decreased historic contaminated sediments often remain which can be re-suspended to the detriment of the environment as a result of sediment movement caused by flooding, dredging, introduction of new structures or from other marine or river infrastructure activities. Investigation and management of large-scale contaminated sediment, remedial investigations and remediation projects can be resource-intensive.

    In the past decade, numerous guidance documents and other reports were published in the US, Canada, Australia and Europe on different aspects of contaminated sediments management - both for the marine and non-marine environments. Almost 20 years ago, CIRIA publication R 175 Guidance on the disposal of dredged material in land provided guidance in sampling based on the standard for contaminated sediments at the time. More recently in the UK, CEFAS, SEPA, EA and DEFRA have also produced guidance on dealing with sediments.

    The project aims to build on the current guidance and will identify gaps in the existing guidance/reports within the industry. It includes for the development of a more detailed practical guide which will be useful when dealing with marine and non-marine contaminated sediments. This project will benefit organisations with information on how to manage sediments (e.g. port authority, canals and rivers trust), developers who are proposing developments in or near water, their professionals advisors and regulators no matter if they are working in fresh water or marine water.

    The project intends to address the following issues:

    Risk assessment including sampling, analysis and interpretation of data for sediments

    How does the risk assessment affect the management of the sediments if they are ‘contaminated’?

    What are the cost and benefits for the various options?; and

    Can we learn from experience from other countries?


    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).


    Strategy for RPS Norway A/S

    12 April 2017

    Strategy for RPS Norway A/S

    RPS Norway Chairman Rolf Olsen delivers presentation.
    OEC Managing Director Knut Hegge (left) and Metier Managing Director Halvard Kilde (right).

    The launch of a national parent company RPS Norway A/S was presented to Norwegian staff by RPS Norway Chairman Rolf Olsen, Metier Managing Director Halvard Kilde, OEC Managing Director Knut Hegge and RPS Group CEO Alan Hearne at a three-year strategy event in Oslo attended by 140 staff drawn from the 253 located at RPS’ offices in Oslo, Stavanger, Ålesund, Trondheim and Kristiansand. The event, hosted at the Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel in the centre of Oslo, was accompanied by tapas and a drinks reception.

    The event focused on where RPS Group is currently and the challenges and opportunities presented by global trends and unfolding events as they relate to RPS’ business in Norway in particular, which contributes around 10% of the Group’s global revenue. The combination of OEC and Metier’s complementary project management skills will underpin an unrivalled reputation in this field for RPS in Norway and overseas. It will also strengthen an existing major focus of growth elsewhere within RPS Group.

    Rolf Olsen, Halvard Kilde, and Knut Hegge set out the three-year strategic plan for the delivery of RPS Norway A/S as an integrated business. The strategy recognises the different and established professional practices of the companies and allows reasonable time to build one integrated organisation. The message was that a diversity of professional skills and experience directed towards shared goals will drive the common enterprise forward. Play was made on the Norwegian palindrome TILLIT meaning ‘trust’ – “which goes both ways”.

    “The public sector investments in developing good transportation solutions, infrastructure and healthcare call for end-to-end services in project management and RPS Norway will be uniquely placed as a potential total services provider to many of the mega-projects” Rolf Olsen commented.

    “Being the only full service and solution provider within project management in Norway gives us a unique position in a market place with a large and growing project portfolio” said Halvard Kilde.

    “Bringing Metier and OEC together as part of RPS provides the opportunity for us to create the strongest and most complete project management team in Norway” explained Knut Hegge "and the means to secure the best projects and guarantee to our clients that they are well executed!"

    RPS CEO Alan Hearne also delivered his latest presentation of RPS Group as an international consultancy of global standing for the benefit of Norwegian colleagues. Alan Hearne said “I recognise that OEC and Metier come from different places, with different cultures and different ways of working. It is all about people and building trust, bringing out the best of this organisation from design to delivery ensuring that the future continues to be exciting and rewarding”.

    The creation of RPS Norway A/S is an important step in bringing the OEC and Metier businesses towards a common RPS identity in Norway. It also draws them both into the RPS Europe business segment and closer to the RPS brand name internationally. The Group’s Norwegian subsidiary companies will formally change their names to RPS in 2018.

    Norway’s Government has announced plans to invest over 500bn NOK in transport infrastructure over the next decade, and invests around 20bn NOK in the country’s health sector each year, besides significant investment in the energy industry and development in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), all areas that continue to benefit greatly from strong project management leadership. Recent major projects on which RPS Norway has been engaged as project manager include the ongoing project management of two key City of Oslo Water Treatment projects to extend the facilities and to deliver clean water basins, and the early phase development of the new Norwegian National Police Emergency Response Centre.

    RPS operates three multidisciplinary geographic business segments: Australia and Asia-Pacific (AAP) with over 1,000 staff working in offices across Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and China; Europe which employs over 3,500 staff across the UK and ROI, Norway, the Netherlands, and Russia; and North America that has more than 500 staff across the United States and in Canada.


    ACEI Award Win for Hybrid Cardiac Catheterisation Laboratory at Crumlin Children’s Hospital

    03 April 2017

    ACEI Award Win for Hybrid Cardiac Catheterisation Laboratory at Crumlin Children’s Hospital

    The new Hybrid Cardiac Catheterisation Laboratory and Orthopaedic Theatre at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin won the ACEI Design Excellence Award 2017 for Mechanical & Electrical Projects (Medium). The award was presented at the ACEI Awards Dinner on Friday 31st March.

    Left to right: Richard Crowe (ACEI President), Andrew Mulhall (RPS), Padraic Brennan (RPS) Sineád Hughes (MOLA Architecture), Ian Smillie (Clancy Construction) and Niall Donohoe (RPS). Image: Colm Mahady

    This €5.6m state-of-the-art laboratory is the only fully equipped paediatric cardiology service on the island of Ireland. It allows cardiologists to treat young children with heart defects by performing catheter-based procedures and if necessary, surgeons to perform open-heart surgery. It minimises risks of infection and provides more timely access to critical interventions.


    The project consists of a three-storey development measuring 545 sq m and the third floor is an internal plantroom. A link bridge was constructed to join the new facility with the existing theatre block. Construction work was carried out in a live hospital campus adjacent to the existing operating theatres.

    The RPS Dublin building services team were appointed as the contractor’s mechanical and electrical consulting engineer, and designed the mechanical and electrical services for the new facility. This involved careful phasing of works and meticulous attention to detail to ensure the continuity of critical services in a live hospital environment during construction. The mechanical and electrical design was carried out in a Federated BIM Level 2 model. The project was delivered on time and within budget in 2016 through the use of building information modelling (BIM) by our multidisciplinary project team.


    The complexity and volume of medical equipment to be installed in the catheterisation laboratory necessitated 3D modelling of all equipment to ensure it does not interfere with the air distribution patterns, which were critical to the hospital and their infection control department.

    The successful completion of the design build project on time and within budget was a very efficient use of capital investment to create essential health infrastructure for the nation’s children.


    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

     RPS Risk Management Team Presents at 2017 Hazardex Conference

    23 March 2017

    RPS Risk Management Team Presents at 2017 Hazardex Conference

    RPS Risk Management attended the 2017 hazardex exhibition and conference in Runcorn in early March which focuses on the issues affecting the safe installation and operation of plant & equipment within potentially explosive atmospheres.

    Image caption: James Daley (Consultant), presenting his article at hazardex.

    There were many interesting talks over the two-day event including “An Overview of the IECEx System 2017” and “Sellafield ISA100 Wireless Applications”, but the main event for our delegates was colleague, James Daley: a consultant from the Warrington office, presenting his paper on the main stage, on the subject of “Safety System Fire Analysis – How can fire challenge the safe operations of a facility? And how can it be established whether a fire can cause a facility/ process to enter an unsafe state”.

    James’ article details whether a fire could cause a facility/process to enter an unsafe state, detailed analysis of the facilities fire prevention and mitigation provisions should be completed. This analysis will determine whether the effects of fire could have detrimental effects on the facilities ability to operate safely and establish whether a facility could be shut down in a systematic and controlled manner (including emergency).

    It is recognised that most hazard studies consider the loss of utilities and control, hence should consider the loss of safety systems but there is limited analysis completed to justify the expected outcomes in the event of the fire on a facility. It should be recognised that fire is a common cause failure if equipment is collocated and the questions posed previously are rarely answered. On the basis of the safety systems fire analysis, the robustness of the basic process control and safety systems engineering design and their effectiveness can be confirmed, and the requirements for emergency response can be demonstrated.

    The article provides practical examples of how safety systems have been analysed with regards to being affected by fire, examples of improvements and the overall benefit of such an analysis.

    If you wish to catch James Daley presenting his paper a second time, be sure to attend the Hazards 27 IChemE conference at the ICC in Birmingham taking place 10th to 12th May (

    As well as attending the hazardex conference, RPS delegates took in the exhibition which among other things had a large array of tablets for use in potentially explosive atmospheres which are the latest technology in hazardous area inspections.

    Mersey Gateway Project – A Progress Update

    16 March 2017

    Mersey Gateway Project – A Progress Update

    The Mersey Gateway Project is a major scheme to build a new six lane toll bridge over the River Mersey, to the east of Liverpool. The cable-stay bridge will form the centrepiece of a new and improved high standard link road, 9.5km long, connecting the national motorway network in north Cheshire with Merseyside. The project includes the design, build, finance, operation and maintenance over the next 30 years of the new bridge and approach roads.

    RPS and Currie & Brown have acted as Lenders’ Technical Advisors (LTA) for client Macquarie Capital since 2013. This involved due diligence reporting of all the engineering proposals and associated risks on behalf of the major lenders and UK Government Treasury to achieve financial close in March 2014. In line with the construction phase appointment, we monitor and report on the progress of the works against the contract programme and cost plan. This includes updating forecasts of costs to completion and likely completion dates as well as reviewing design or construction quality or technical issues which arise during inspections.

    The bridge has a total length of 2.25km, including the north approach viaduct at 700m and the south approach viaduct at 545m, which also crosses the Manchester Ship Canal. The main bridge is a 1km cable-stay bridge, with four spans supported by cables from three pylons. Construction of the three pylons was completed in November 2016, the outer pylons are over 110m in height and the centre pylon is 80m. Construction of the concrete deck is by means of balanced cantilever methods. The approach viaduct decks are constructed using a Moveable Scaffolding System (MSS), a span by span concrete cast in place method with a forward launch procedure, facilitating casting of concrete sections up to 70m in length. Other works include the Astmoor & Bridgewater viaduct with deck construction using precast beams which were cast and shipped from Ireland, along with remedial works to over 10 existing bridges requiring deck waterproofing, bearing replacement and crash protection.

    There are eight project milestones, and the first five have been successfully achieved. The next milestone is completion of the main cable-stay bridge deck in June 2017. When complete, the project is expected to help create thousands of new jobs, secure inward investment to the area and deliver important regeneration benefits, including improved public transport links across the River Mersey.

    RPS has been shortlisted for the 2017 Ground Engineering Awards.

    16 March 2017

    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

    RPS Energy - Genesis Partnership

    08 March 2017

    RPS Energy - Genesis Partnership

    Supporting Clients in a “Lower for Longer” Oil Price Environment

    As leading consultants to the petroleum industry, RPS Energy and Genesis have developed an innovative partnership that addresses the changing needs of our clients as they emerge from a lengthy downturn.

    We have joined forces in important areas to cover a wide range of advisory, technical and operating disciplines. In this way, we can provide high-quality, cost-effective support for technical and commercial teams in the efficient development of their assets and in making important business decisions.

    Our global presence and internationally recognised capabilities in the sub-surface; subsea and facilities engineering; cost estimation and petroleum economics; and in project management give us the ability to help evaluate and progress onshore and offshore developments, wherever they are.

    We have been working on this combined approach for some time and have now generated significant experience in responding to clients whether they are IOCs, NOCs and Governments or financial institutions. The partnership allows us to make sure that the right specialist skill set is available and to work a seamless manner on complex projects.

    For more information please contact Mike Larsen ( at RPS.

    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”.

    Northern Ireland’s Air Ambulance Location Approved

    22 February 2017

    Northern Ireland’s Air Ambulance Location Approved

    Helicopter visiting MLK for operational testing in November 2016.

    RPS has successfully obtained planning approval for the Air Ambulance Northern Ireland (AANI) project. The application sees the AANI project as one of only a few within the UK and Ireland that are sited outside an airport or hospital setting.

    The need for the Air Ambulance in Northern Ireland was raised after a public campaign for Dr. John Hinds who was fatally injured while working as a race medic at the Skerries 100 Road Race in July 2015. The campaign went on to receive almost 90,000 signatures and was presented to parliament for formal consideration. Across England, Scotland and Wales there are currently thirty-three air ambulances; however Northern Ireland with a population of 1.85 million was without a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) until the Northern Ireland Assembly appointed AANI in 2016.

    Alastair McKinley: an Associate Planner at RPS worked alongside AANI’s Chairman Mr Ian Crowe to carry out the pre-application engagement with Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council planning department in advance of the planning application being formally submitted for the facility to be located within the larger Maze Long Kesh site.

    RPS also assisted AANI in a successful public consultation event with local residents and businesses. The site has a compelling and varied history so generated a good deal of interest: it was initially a World War II airfield and then a military camp, detention centre and prison. The planning application received written letters of support from both the Maze Long Kesh Corporation (the body with statutory responsibility to secure the regeneration of the wider site), other interest groups located at Maze Long Kesh and local residents. The quality of the planning application, public consultation and along with ministerial agreement from Northern Ireland’s First and Deputy First Ministers, saw the permission being granted within eight weeks in early February 2017.

    At 347 acres, the Maze Long Kesh site is the largest development site of its kind under single ownership in Northern Ireland. As one of the most exciting destinations of its kind, the location has true potential to become a shared space that is welcoming and accessible to all, contributing to peace building and reconciliation. Maze Long Kesh Development Corporation, which has the statutory responsibility to secure the site’s regeneration, believes that: “Maze Long Kesh has the potential to generate 5,000 jobs, deliver more than £300m investment and become a global ‘best in class’ project with social and economic regeneration at its core thereby bringing tangible benefits to all. “ The concept for the whole site and resultant framework will provide the basis for a statutory Local Plan concerning the positive regeneration of the site.

    Maze Long Kesh site.
    RPS Comes out to Support Two Times World Champion

    10 February 2017

    RPS Comes out to Support Two Times World Champion

    RPS presents Hall of Fame award at Cornmarket Motorbike Awards Night.

    Left to right: Miss Northern Ireland, Stephen Henderson (RPS), Gordon Crockard (Award winner) and Michael Shaw (Managing Director RPS Northern Ireland)

    As a sponsor of Northern Ireland’s annual Cornmarket Motorbike Awards RPS Managing Director Northern Ireland Michael Shaw and RPS Belfast Marketing Manager Stephen Henderson recently had the opportunity to attend the event and present the event’s Hall of Fame Award.

    RPS’ Belfast office continues to provide many services to motorcycle racing from planning, project management and Structural Engineering across race and road circuits in Northern Ireland. While many parts of the UK banned road races, Northern Ireland remains one of only a few areas globally where this racing is permitted on closed public roads, and it continues to attract hundreds of thousands of spectators each year adding a vital contribution to the overall Northern Ireland economy and to localised economies.

    Newly crowned two times World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea was in attendance along with 600 guests, local business, politicians and media to celebrate the achievements of our local sporting talent. As the Ballyclare rider accepted the Trophy for Irish Motorcyclist of the year he announced: "This is huge. To have the public support me the way they do even though I'm racing far from home is an honour and I thank all those who took the time to vote for me. To be awarded this amazing trophy for the second year in a row is very humbling." Jonathan is one of only two riders to earn the accolade twice in a row, and previously achieved the title twice in 2007-8 also.

    Stormont Minister Paul Givan and Ian Paisley Jnr, both in attendance at the event, announced the release of capital investment to further improve on best practice safety in the sport, saying: "It is important that we do what we can to make these events as safe and memorable an experience for everyone and this substantial funding will contribute to that. It will go towards helping to improve the safety of the course for competitors and spectators alike."

    As part of the RPS Belfast office’s Corporate and Social Responsibility, Stephen Henderson volunteers his time to two charities, both of which had been selected as the charity partners for the event. The evening raised almost £7,000 for Air Ambulance Northern Ireland (Board member) and F13K Cancer (a campaign run on behalf of Marie Curie).

    Left to Right: Stephen Watson (BBC), Stephen Henderson (RPS), Grace Smyth (Marie Curie), Carl Fogarty (I’m a Celebrity Winner and 7 times World Champion), Lee Johnston (Honda Racing).

    Three times world champion and Motocross legend Gordon Crockard accepted the Hall of Fame Award from RPS and was inducted into the RPS Group Hall of Fame. Crockard is heavily involved in global motorsport and oversees the Honda European series as well as sitting as part of the Honda Management Team on the world stage.

    Gordon Crockard receiving the RPS Hall of Fame award.

    The night is hosted by former World Grand Prix rider turned commentator Keith Huewen and BBC NI's Stephen Watson, the programme is to be aired on Setanta (Eir) Sports and Eurosport over the coming weeks.

    Two PFI International Awards for RPS AAP Infrastructure Projects

    10 February 2017

    Two PFI International Awards for RPS AAP Infrastructure Projects

    Looking sharp: RPS’ Jim Boston (right) and Damien Augustinus at the global PFI awards in London.

    Melbourne HCMT and Canberra LRS projects recognised at recent PFI Awards.


    Staff from RPS’ Melbourne and Sydney offices alongside project-partners recently accepted two global industry awards at the Project Finance International Awards hosted by Thomson Reuters at the Hilton Hotel in London, UK.

    The Melbourne High Capacity Metro Trains PPP project won the 2016 PFI Rail Deal of the Year (Asia Pacific).

    Victoria’s biggest ever rolling stock project is worth over AU$2bn and will deliver 65 new high capacity trains with around 20% greater capacity than the existing fleet. The project will also deliver two new dedicated train maintenance facilities and training simulators. It achieved contract close in November 2016 and is being delivered as an availability based PPP project. The first new train is due to enter service on Melbourne’s Cranbourne-Pakenham line in 2019, with the full fleet delivered by 2024. This will be followed by a 30-year maintenance period.

    The Victorian state government appointed the Evolution Rail consortium to deliver the project. This consortium comprises the world’s largest train manufacture, CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles along with Downer EDI and Plenary Group.

    Over 500 local jobs are being created during the delivery phase, which has a minimum 60% local build requirement. Downer EDI’s existing manufacturing facility in Melbourne will also undergo a major upgrade, while Chinese state-owned CRRC will also establish a new regional headquarters in Melbourne to help realise the vision of this project and assist in sustaining a viable rolling stock manufacturing capability in Victoria.

    RPS was the commercial and transaction advisor on this project, responsible for the strategic management and coordination of all aspects of the tendering process on behalf of the State. RPS is also retained to provide strategic support to the project during the delivery phase.

    Collecting the award on behalf of the State of Victoria, were:

    Robert Velins: Executive Director, Network Integrity and Project Assurance, Public Transport Authority and also State Project Director of the HCMT project;

    Damien Augustinus: Executive Director, Plenary Group; and

    RPS’ Jim Boston: Executive Director of RPS Operations in Melbourne and State Commercial and Legal Director of the HCMT project.

    Jim said he was delighted to attend the ceremony and accept the award on behalf of the project, and although other members of his team were unfortunately unable to attend the event, he recognised the significant contributions from the greater RPS transaction team including William Hayes, Thomas Mills, Simon Davis, Timothy Grigg and Thomas Pearce, amongst others. The trip to London also afforded him a valuable opportunity to meet other RPS executives: including Business Information Manager Douglas Lamont (also attending the awards), RPS Ireland Highways and Transportation Director Christy O’Sullivan and RPS Senior Director Henry Bonham, to discuss recent developments and collaboration opportunities in the global PPP market.

    The Canberra Light Rail System PPP project won Transport Deal of the Year (Asia-Pacific).

    Canberra's ‘City to Gungahlin’ light rail project is the first stage of a light rail network that will have a transformative effect on Canberra, the Capital of Australia. It represents a substantial financial investment by both the ACT Government and the private sector in the city. The light rail system will redefine the entrance to the nation’s capital and will play a vital role in ensuring Canberra’s future as a vibrant, sustainable city.

    The Project is being delivered as a PPP (Availability). It has a capital design and construct value of approximately AU$707 million and total project value of AU$939 million (measured as at 1 January 2016). The Project is presently in its construction phase, with operations due to commence in late 2018 and the operations term through to 2039.

    From October 2014 to May 2016 the Territory conducted a competitive tender process, managed by the RPS EIG team (as transaction manager) together with other key advisors to the ACT Government, to identify the private sector party to deliver the project. The project was awarded to Canberra Metro, comprising Pacific Partnerships Pty Ltd (operator and equity investor); Aberdeen Infrastructure Investments (CLR) Ltd, (equity investor); Mitsubishi Corporation Limited (equity investor);John Holland Pty Ltd (builder, operator and equity investor); CPB Contractors Pty Ltd (builder); Deutsche Bahn Engineering and Consulting (operations consultant) and Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) (light rail vehicle supplier).

    The project has achieved many remarkable outcomes, particularly given it has been progressed by a small jurisdiction with no previous rail, light rail or PPP experience. RPS EIG was appointed as the Transaction Manager for the procurement and negotiation phase, the EIG team was led by Kay Salvair Smith as Transaction Director and John McLuckie at RPS’ Sydney Pitt Street office.

    (From second left) Jim Boston, Robert Velins and Damien Augustinus accept the award.
    Cork Landfill to Landscape Shortlisted for Best Park Award

    03 February 2017

    Cork Landfill to Landscape Shortlisted for Best Park Award

    Tramore Valley Park shortlisted for Best Public Park in Community and Council Awards on 4th February.

    Aerial view of Tramore Valley Park; park bench using recycled concrete; and BMX track

    Tramore Valley Park (formerly Kinsale Road Landfill) in Cork, Ireland has been shortlisted for the Best Public Park Award in the Community & Council Awards 2017. The awards ceremony will be held in Dublin this Saturday, 4th February.

    Kinsale Road Landfill operated as a municipal landfill from the early 1960s until its closure in 2009, with over 3.5 million tonnes of waste landfilled on site. Cork City Council has dedicated significant resources to remediating the landfill using a variety of different engineering initiatives in compliance with EPA licence requirements. The 70 hectare site is now being transformed from a once unpopular landfill into a parkland amenity for the local community.

    Amenities provided for the local community include Munster’s only international standard BMX track, 5 km of paths and trails, including biodiversity trails and bird hides, a multi-use events area and sports pitch, pavilion building with changing facilities and public toilets and parking for 200 vehicles.

    RPS delivered the final phase of the engineering remediation work on behalf of Cork City Council in 2015, including detailed design of landfill capping, leachate and landfill gas infrastructure and surface water system design. The challenge was to successfully integrate this infrastructure whilst ensuring the site could be developed to meet the amenity objectives and create visually attractive spaces. The RPS project team also designed internal access roads, the pavilion building, parking, playing field and landscaped areas.

    The design team applied the best principles of sustainability using recycled construction materials where possible. This included the innovative reuse of crushed concrete from demolished grain silos in the Cork City docklands to fill gabion cages and form park benches. Landfill gas has been used to generate electricity on-site and feed into the national grid to power 850 homes in the locality. Foundation bases and ducting for three wind turbines have been installed for future installation of turbines. Allowances were made for future landfill settlements, so the pavilion building was constructed on piled foundations and the car parking area was constructed using a flexible rubber ‘BodPave’ system.

    The site is unique in Ireland in delivering such a range of tangible benefits to the local community on a previous landfill site. It will benefit a range of people from the locality and wider areas including fitness / BMX enthusiasts, nature-lovers and families seeking open green spaces.

    Cookstown Celebrates £3.2m Public Realm Improvements

    02 February 2017

    Cookstown Celebrates £3.2m Public Realm Improvements

    [L-R] Cllr Trevor Wilson, Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, with Communities Minister Paul Givan.

    Northern Ireland Communities Minister Paul Givan has visited Cookstown to mark the completion of significant public realm works in the town centre.

    The £3.2million project received financial support of £2.8million from the Department for Communities with £320,000 contributed by Mid Ulster District Council. The Minister congratulated Mid Ulster District Council for its successful delivery of the scheme and thanked RPS Ireland Ltd for the design and project management and FP McCann Ltd who delivered the construction works.

    Minister Givan said: “The completion of this public realm scheme has transformed Cookstown town centre, creating an attractive environment that will greatly benefit all those who live, work and shop in this key market town. The result is a beautiful and very functional scheme of which we can all be proud.”

    The works were carried out in James Street, William Street and adjoining streets, and included new paving, street lighting, railings, seating and planting.

    Commenting on the partnership approach to the scheme, Minister Givan added: “I fully recognise the crucial role town centres play in providing a sense of local civic pride and community. This scheme is one of several major public realm projects my Department has supported recently in the Mid Ulster District Council area. Including Dungannon and Magherafelt, a total of £10.2million has been invested locally to enhance these important towns.”

    “The delivery of this programme of works has only been possible through the effective partnership that exists between my Department and Council. We are already working with Council on future revitalisation work across these three towns. This further investment of £330,000 demonstrates my ongoing commitment to continue to work closely with the Council to maximise the positive impact of these regeneration efforts for the whole area.”

    Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Cllr. Trevor Wilson said: “I would like to thank the Minister and his Department for the multi-million funding received in 2015 which has allowed a major investment in our main towns of Dungannon, Magherafelt and of course, Cookstown where we can now see the finished results of the scheme. We have, in partnership with the Department enhanced the Cookstown Public Realm making it visually appealing for retailers, businesses, shoppers and residents and this will underpin the ongoing regeneration and economic sustainability of not only this historic market town, but the Mid Ulster region as a whole.”

    [L-R] Communities Minister Paul Givan with Cllr Trevor Wilson, Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Anthony Tohill, Council Chief Executive & Mark Kelso, Council Director of Health & Infrastructure.
    Linear Accelerator Research Identifies Community Need in Cancer Treatment

    26 January 2017

    Linear Accelerator Research Identifies Community Need in Cancer Treatment

    New research by RPS has revealed that one in every ten cancer sufferers in Australia is struggling to get access to vital radiation treatments, particularly in suburban and regional areas.


    The research also shows taxpayers could be forced to foot a $600 million bill for an explosion in cancer treatment services nationally over the next 15 years, with the number of radiation therapy treatments for cancer to increase from 1.74 million a year in 2016 to 2.7 million by 2031.

    Australia currently needs radiation therapy capacity to treat an additional 10,000 patients per year, which will reach 50,000 patients per year in 2031 without additional investment in linear accelerators – or linacs – that are used in this therapy.

    Mark Wallace, RPS Regional Technical Director for Economics, said Australia already has close to 200 linac machines, but this number was not meeting community need.

    “Australia currently has a shortfall of 27 linacs. That means one in every ten cancer sufferers could face problems getting the treatment they need. Demand is expected to grow rapidly, with the shortfall to reach about 122 linacs by 2031,” Mr Wallace said.

    “Without these linacs, more than half of cancer suffers could go without treatment.”

    Mr Wallace said the ageing Baby Boomer generation would be the biggest factor in the growth in demand for radiation therapy over the next 15 years.

    “Data from State Cancer Councils and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows cancer incidence rates are much higher among older Australians. As the population ages, the number of cancer sufferers increases as well.”

    Building new cancer treatment capacity is not cheap with each linear accelerator costing about $5 million to procure.

    “Australian Governments – both State and Federal – would need to find more than $600 million to buy the linacs needed to deliver radiation therapies to cancer sufferers,” Mr Wallace said.

    “This cost doesn’t include other infrastructure like radiation proof bunkers, facility buildings or the costs to Medicare and the patient of the treatment itself.”

    Mark Middleton, CEO of Australia’s leading private cancer treatment provider, Icon Group, says it’s critical for Government to partner with the private sector to meet the emerging gap between radiation treatment capacity and community need.

    “The size of the challenge we are all facing is immense,” Mr Middleton said. “Only through genuine collaboration between Government and private providers can Australians get the level and quality of care they deserve into the future.”

    Radiation Oncology Centres – Icon Group’s radiation oncology division – has an established network of radiation oncology treatment centres across Queensland and New South Wales and is rapidly expanding across Australia to meet growing need from the community.

    “Cancer sufferers in regional Australia deserve more equitable access to life-saving radiation therapy,” Mr Middleton said.

    “Additionally, communities in suburban parts of Melbourne and Perth are making long commutes to access treatment in inner-city locations. We need to deliver these services in a more accessible way and that means taking cancer care to the suburbs and regional areas”.

    The Australian Government approves all new linacs while State Health Departments are the largest providers of radiation therapies for cancer patients through tertiary public hospitals.

    Shortage of Linear Accelerators in Australia - 2016 – 2031

    Media Enquiries: Lara Thompson or Lauren Bonser on (07) 3237 8899

    Shell International Framework Agreement

    19 January 2017

    Shell International Framework Agreement

    Shell International agreement offers RPS lab services access for international subsidiaries.

    Picture: The symbolic ‘first’ samples under the framework agreement that were delivered by Shell to our laboratory in Breda.

    The framework agreement for industrial hygiene lab analysis and services was signed between Shell International and RPS in 2016. In principle, all Shell International subsidiaries can tap into the agreement, regardless of the country in which they operate.

    RPS has a long business relationship with Shell in the Netherlands. Not only does the framework agreement streamline our administrative process but it furthermore opens up our services to all Shell assets.

    Shell selected RPS based on our high level of service which they have experienced in earlier projects working with RPS, including RPS’ quality and reliability of personal air monitoring services. RPS’ particular expertise in innovation in new techniques was demonstrated as we introduced a tailor-made personal air sampling canister and validated it together with Shell. We have previously delivered excellence in our flexibility in highly efficient sampling and fast turnaround times without loss of quality or attention to detail in the case of incidents like in the Shell Moerdijk incident of 2014.

    We are very proud to receive the recognition of such a renowned company like Shell International and look forward to the continuation of a very positive long standing relationship.

    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.

    Challenges and Opportunities for Stakeholder Engagement

    11 January 2017

    Challenges and Opportunities for Stakeholder Engagement

    RPS’ Neasa Kane-Fine reflects on challenges and opportunities in the future of PR.

    Neasa Kane-Fine, Director of RPS Project Communications contributed to November’s Irish Marketing Journal (IMJ) on the future of PR. As RPS is strongly focused on public consultation and stakeholder engagement, Neasa reflected on the challenges and opportunities faced in this area – read full article below.


    Our work involves advising on and delivering consultations that allow for public and stakeholder participation, whether it is to inform development of a new public policy, sustainability campaign or infrastructure project. We also develop and manage relationships to build trust with the communities and many stakeholders impacted by public infrastructure projects and construction.

    Public participation is healthy and necessary to inform projects and policies. In recent years the industry has seen a seismic shift in the quantity and content of submissions made to public consultations, thanks to increased awareness through online and social media platforms and multiple devices.

    Interestingly, we still see a larger proportion – about 60% – of public consultation submissions being made in writing and submitted via traditional post, rather than through email or online consultation forums that we facilitate. Many people have told us that when they believe something is important, they prefer to write it out and post it, so we facilitate that.

    With access to so much information online, including through social media, we need to ensure that accurate and factual information is easily accessible so we are now developing more animated video and infographics that quickly and simply explain complex projects and policy issues, as well as continuing to utilise print and broadcast media.

    Another trend we see is that with more people aware of projects thanks to social media campaigns and increased mobilisation of interest groups via Facebook and Twitter, social media often makes it difficult for some to discuss their views openly online. Social media campaigns against public policy or projects often promote polarised positions and questioning or differing views rarely raise their head in the online discussions.

    Looking ahead? Social media needs to mature to enable a grown up, inclusive and informed debate about important policy and issues, where all views can be expressed and respected. Social media will never replace direct engagement as meaningful consultation builds understanding as well as addressing issues and concerns, but tools like Twitter and Facebook ensure we reach all our audiences with engaging content.

    Data management is a growing area for us and we see more and more large projects requiring bespoke cloud based systems to manage stakeholder and project data across multiple platforms and users, and this need will continue. Demand for creativity will never cease.

    Video will continue to grow in importance too. Print will remain relevant for particular projects and certain demographics, but print will become more graphics driven as people have less and less time to consume the written word.

    Finally, more than ever, there is a strong need for quality traditional journalism; to objectively establish the facts and provide balance through impartial reporting and valid questioning of all positions.

    RPS’ Belfast Office Strikes Gold with Environmental Benchmark

    06 January 2017

    RPS’ Belfast Office Strikes Gold with Environmental Benchmark

    RPS’ Belfast office has been awarded Gold in the Arena Network Environmental Benchmarking Survey for the second year.

    Since 1998, the Northern Ireland Environmental Benchmarking Survey has assessed the extent to which environmental business practices have been embedded within the corporate strategies and operations of local organisations. The survey is designed to encourage organisations to identify measures and understand their environmental impacts, to continuously seek for better environmental performance and to benchmark themselves against their peers across Northern Ireland.

    Over the last decade it has grown to become Northern Ireland’s leading environmental benchmarking exercise, attracting organisations from over 14 industry sectors including participants from the top 200 companies and leading public sector organisations such as health trusts, local authorities, education and library boards and universities.

    The survey is a key driver for corporate environmental management and improvement. It is recognised as a positive influencer that is helping organisations throughout Northern Ireland achieve more sustainable ways of doing business.