Posts by Katie Kennedy


Groundwater 2019

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Groundwater 2019
2019-03-2727th Mar 2019

Environment Analyst and Brownfield Briefing are pleased to announce that Groundwater 2019 will be taking place on 27th March in London.

Returning for its 8th year, this informative event will once again offer a balanced mix of practical case studies, new research and policy updates, combined with interactive Q&A sessions and extensive networking opportunities. Together, these will provide you with the latest knowledge, tools and techniques to address your most pertinent groundwater challenges.

Don’t miss this opportunity to network with other groundwater professionals and put your questions to our expert speakers.

For more information and to view the programme click here, call +44 (0) 2036372191 or email


Land Condition Symposium 2019

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Land Condition Symposium 2019
2019-03-2727th Mar 2019

The Land Condition Symposium, hosted by the Institution of Environmental Sciences, will be held in Manchester on the 27th March.

This technical one-day symposium will focus on debate, discussion and knowledge exchange with leading sector professionals presenting on topical issues and innovative developments currently at the forefront of the land condition sector.

Download the programme and utilise the opportunity to gain valuable CPD and network will fellow sector professionals.

Book your ticket for the event.


AGS Magazine: January / February 2019

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The Association of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists are pleased to announce the January/February issue of their bi-monthly publication; AGS Magazine. To view the magazine click HERE.

This free, bimonthly publication focuses on geotechnics, engineering geology and geoenvironmental engineering as well as the work and achievements of the AGS.

There are a number of excellent articles in this month’s issue including;

AGS Photography Competition: The Results – Page 6
PAS 128: The Essentials – Page 8
Variability in Asbestos Analysis in Soil – Page 12
Standards and Professionalism – Page 16
Borehole Sites & Operations Regulations 1995 – Page 20

Advertising opportunities are available within future issues of the publication. To view rates and opportunities please view our media pack by clicking HERE.

If you have a news story, article, case study or event which you’d like to tell our editorial team about please email Articles should act as opinion pieces and not directly advertise a company. Please note that the publication of editorial and advertising content is subject to the discretion of the editorial board.


Standards and Professionalism

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Tags: Featured SiLC

I will try to limit this essay to Standards and Professionalism as they relate to the work undertaken, day-to-day by SiLCs and other practitioners in related fields. These standards are, by and large, common to all professions and are the backbone to their historical and continuing success.

The reader may be a fresh graduate starting out, or they may be a person with several degrees, chartered, at director level who has been working for years, or somewhere in between. The critical common factors are agreed norms which must be maintained and improved, throughout our careers. These are the Standards and Professionalism I am promoting.

In public life we often hear about standards when they are flouted or transgressed in some manner. We read headlines such as – “Trading Standards prosecute shop owner”, “Negligence case raised because some organisation ignored the latest guidance”, “Staff suspended for breaches of codes of conduct”, etc. Is it that things are getting worse in the “post-truth” world of lies and fake news? Where even reliance on experts (that’s you and I dear reader) was made suspect even by the fickle Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. What is happening the rest of the time when we have no shock headlines, and all seems fine with the world? The answer; standards work!

In order to provide common ground for discussion, a web-search provided me with definitions of Standards which might reasonably be distilled thus: “A standard is an agreed way of doing something. It could be about making a product, managing a process, delivering a service or supplying materials – standards can cover a huge range of activities undertaken by organizations and used by their customers.” In more specific terms a standard is something a person or organisation SHALL or MUST do; it is not optional. This is akin to a Statute or Law. Failure to comply could have serious repercussions. It could mean some form of disciplinary process, maybe being “struck off” or actual criminal prosecution if human life, the environment, property, etc. is put in jeopardy.

Defining Professionalism is trickier but yields the following salient items:
1. Specialised Knowledge. Professionals are known for their knowledge in a specified field;
2. Competent. Professionals get the job done;
3. Honesty, Integrity, Accountability, Self-Regulation;
4. Building Expertise; and
5. Developing Emotional Intelligence (self-awareness, self-management, motivation and empathy).

Having a relevant degree from a recognised university is a reasonable starting point covering Item 1 on the list – then what? Experience and the actual practice of those skills in the field, office, and through interaction with colleagues, contractors and clients will help to develop Item 2.

Many of us will have learned, from our parents and family, and peers, a strong sense of honesty and fairness which has carried us successfully through our lives with a solid set of moral and ethical values. However, in professional life these need to be written down to provide common benchmarks by which we are all judged. These will cover us for Item 3.
What about building on your expertise and developing the emotional and mental strength to exercise these skills? An excellent way to do this is to join like-minded individuals to develop common goals, standards of behaviour and engagement – if only there was something like that? Well of course there is.
I recommend that ALL professionals in all fields pursue chartership as a minimum. Your choice of chartered organisation may be governed by your degree, your job, your employer, etc. By joining such an organisation (you can join more than one if you are very keen), you will be welcomed into a fold including seasoned professionals, novices and people in between – people like you. You will have access to direct help (sponsors and mentors), resources (libraries, standard documents, codes of practice) and lots of advice on how to keep your skills relevant and how to approach various tasks and ways of working. This all goes towards your own continuing professional development (CPD) – Item 4.

This will help create a sensible balance between doing what our client expects and keeping within the standards. This has a bearing on Emotional Intelligence (Item 5) which is considered by many to be essential in respect of career growth, rather than only relying on Items 1 to 4. Humans have an innate drive for acceptance and a need to please others. Professional relationships can become one sided or stressed; there is a risk of falling foul of stepping over the professional line and offerring advice which is what we believe the client wants to hear and not what they need to hear. This points back to diligence, honesty, impartiality and most of all integrity. Professionals MUST be willing, in fact, are honour bound, to deliver bad news when necessary and say “no” to a client at times when the client would prefer a “yes”. In recognition of such rare stresses, with proper and due acknowledgement of mental health issues, chartered organisations provide support and advice in a caring and supportive manner.

This essay is just a taster to spark discussion and hopefully inspire you to become a better professional. Once you embark on a professional career the journey does not end with chartership; that really marks the start of your professional life. You may consider going beyond chartership and consider becoming a SiLC, to improve your professional standing. Ultimately, you only get out what you are willing to put in. The rewards and enjoyment you receive will be well worth it.

Article contributed by James Nelson, Associate Director of Discovery CE Limited on behalf of SiLC

Article Safety

PAS 128 – The Essentials

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PAS 128 – what is it? Is it simply as a way standardising utility surveys or is it an attempt to minimise health and safety risks associated with any form of intrusive groundwork? First of all – despite it being published by BSI – it is not a British Standard as we usually know it, but rather a specification for the mapping of underground utilities. Therefore, in following the standard the user can demonstrate they have followed a logical and consistent approach to gathering and recording the data, but cannot demonstrate that the approach adopted is the right one for their particular circumstances. That said, PAS 128 does state that one of its purposes is to seek to raise the quality and reliability of such surveys. Crucially Section 0.3 states ”TSA level 3 – EML only survey – is deliberately not accounted for and not included as a detection method because this PAS is looking to raise the standard of detection so that in all cases a minimum of two detection techniques – ground penetrating radar (GPR) and electromagnetic location (EML) – are used.” Clearly therefore the use of a Cable Avoidance Tool (using EML) on its own, a mainstay of buried service avoidance for ground investigation in the past, is not deemed to be adequate for detection purposes. Where EML is used it should be noted that use of a Cable Avoidance Tool in conjunction with a signal generator (Genny) will often increase the reliability and capability of this technique.

PAS 128:2014 ‘Specification for underground utility detection, verification and location’, to give it its full title, identifies four types of utility survey ranging in a hierarchy from Type D to Type A with the latter providing the most detail and highest level of confidence in the position of the utilities. Generally one type will follow the previous with Survey Type D being a precursor to Type C and so on. However, as the document does not specify which type of survey or level of confidence is appropriate for any given situation, it is therefore of little comfort to know that buried utilities searches have been ‘carried out in accordance with PAS 128’ unless the type of Survey used is appropriate to the situation in hand. However that is not to say that the type of survey adopted is optional as PAS128 does state that this should be decided on a case by case basis with all parties, based on the level of risk at a certain location.
In PAS 128 a Type D (Desktop) survey is essentially a desk based one. This would often be appropriate at the ground investigation planning stage and might form part of the CDM Designer’s Risk Assessment – to simply locate exploratory holes away from the recorded location of buried services.

The successive levels of Survey Type C through to Type A require increasing levels of effort and therefore expense. The next level, a Type C (‘Reconnaissance’) survey, would involve a site walkover such that existing records are supported and validated by the visual inspection of physical evidence observed. In the context of ground investigation, it makes sense for this next level of survey to form part of the planning/design stage so that the exploratory hole positions and designer’s risk assessment can be updated accordingly.
A Type B (Detection) survey is probably the minimum level that is appropriate to most ground investigation work whether specified by the client/consultant or not. It involves the use of geophysical techniques to detect buried services and PAS 128 suggests that the primary techniques to be used are EML (Electro-Magnetic Locating) and GPR (Ground penetrating Radar). The EML technique is most commonly manifested using a CAT (Cable Avoidance Tool) various models of which offer varying levels of accuracy and sophistication. The guidance recommends that more than one geophysical technique should always be used. Note 4 of the PAS states that “No detection technique can detect every type of underground utility in every location” and hence the possibility of undetected services being present must be recognised even when multiple geophysical techniques are adopted. In the context of ground investigation contractors often request an ‘underground utility clearance’. However the limitations of detection surveys should be recognised.

Furthermore it is worth noting that there are different quality levels within the survey types based on level of accuracy possible. Due to ground conditions / depths of services different quality levels are obtained. For example a Type B survey, a B2 quality level reflects an accuracy 250mm or 40% of detected depth, whereas a B1 quality is 150mm or 15% detected depth. However in the context of ground investigation the precise location and depth is only important in so far as this helps to prevent damage occurring during the investigation process.
Clearly, where services are present, the only way to get 100% confidence of a service type, location and depth is to physically expose the service – known as a Type A (Verification) survey. Of course such a survey, by its invasive nature, carries its own risks in terms of hitting and damaging buried services. Hand digging with uninsulated tools or with damaged insulation can be hazardous and alternatives like vacuum extraction can be relatively expensive. Vacuum extraction may not be practical and in any case does carry its own risks.
Generally the approach to the investigation of buried services should follow the guidance in HSG47 (2014) 3rd edition. Crucially HSG47 described the process as comprising 3 stages (1) planning the work, (2) locating and identifying buried services and (3) safe excavation. You will note the emphasis in HSG47 is one of locating services, not simply trying to establish the absence of services as is often the approach taken in ground investigation, due to financial constraints or otherwise.

Physically verifying every service may not always be appropriate in the context of GI works – however there will always remain uncertainty over the location of any buried service which has not been subject to verification. In order to reduce the risk as low as reasonably practicable with regard to avoiding danger from underground services, designers should carefully consider specifying as a minimum a Type B PAS 128 survey as part of the GI. In many cases an ‘avoidance’ approach may be deemed to be adequate. However for critical services, for example medium/high pressure gas mains, it is always advisable to undertake verification, because the assumed position can never be taken for granted. In following HSG47 asset owners should be contacted for high risk apparatus and it is then for the asset owner to identify the control measures to be put in place. Utility providers have their own recommended ‘clearance’ distances for excavations, digging or drilling and this is different for each asset owner. Finally it is worth heeding the warning in section 9.2 “For all excavations, assume that underground utilities are present and act accordingly.”

Article contributed by Peter Boyd

Article Contaminated Land

Variability in Asbestos Analysis in Soil

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Improvements in methods
There have been efforts to improve the analysis for asbestos in the last ten years:
Analysis methods changed significantly around 2011-2014 with more scrutiny from UKAS. Prior to this, laboratories tended to offer a standalone visual screen to determine if asbestos containing material was present in the sample, but this would only cover pieces of asbestos containing material (ACM) and fibre bundles, and would not include small fragments or free fibres.

• A Blue Book method has been developed and while still in draft the basic methodology has generally been adopted by the majority of laboratories across the UK.

The Blue Book method includes identification of asbestos fibres under a microscope. This analysis is a time intensive process using analysts with a high level of skill and training to identify, count and measure fibres on the filters examined under the microscope.

Remaining Variability
Despite these changes there have been a number of comments on the variability of soil analysis for asbestos including an article in Geoenvironmental Matters which states that “Certainly, it has been rumoured that remediation contractors have come to know which laboratories quote “find asbestos” and which ones don’t.”[1]

[1] Is the quantification of Asbestos in Soils still a lottery?

In the light of these comments we carried out a review to try to determine the sources of variability across a number of laboratories. As part of this, we spoke to six laboratories and asked about their processes.

Asbestos Screen
A key issue we identified was inconsistency in the asbestos screen (Stage 1 of the blue book method). This is a critical step in all asbestos analysis in soil. If no asbestos is detected in the screen, then typically no further quantification is carried out.

The Stage 1 screening process involves three steps:
1. visual screen of the whole sample.
2. inspection of a dried sub-sample under a stereo microscope (x20 – x40).
3. small representative ‘pinch’ samples mounted on microscope slide at a higher magnification (x80 – x500) using Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM)/ Phase Contrast Microscopy (PCM) techniques.

If asbestos is found at any stage the screen is halted and asbestos is reported as being present.

We had heard rumours that not all laboratories were drying the samples prior to the second stage of the screen, thereby potentially making asbestos harder to detect, however at the time of our review in Spring 2018 the requirement to dry had been introduced into the draft Blue Book method and all the laboratories we spoke to were drying samples prior to the inspection under a stereo microscope.

For this second step of the screen we did encounter wide variation in mass of the sub-sample ranging from 20g to 100g and the amount to be used is not specified in the standard. There is no detection limit on the asbestos screen. It, however, seems obvious that a laboratory screening a larger sub-sample is likely to have a lower detection limit than a laboratory screening a smaller sub-sample but also may have higher costs as the process is more time intensive.

Further Quantification
Stage 2 in the Blue Book method is gravimetric analysis. This involves identification and removal of visible ACMs for gravimetric analysis and subsequent detailed Stage 2 analysis. The detailed Stage 2 analysis comprises inspection of a representative sub-sample under a stereo microscope and the removal of smaller ACM fragments and fibre bundles for identification and gravimetric analysis to determine asbestos percentage by weight.

We note that typically the laboratories tended to use a similar mass of sub-sample for Stage 2 gravimetric analysis to that used in the Stage 1 screening. Interestingly the latest draft of Blue Book sets out that a 20g to 50g sub-sample should be taken forward for Stage 2. Those who have previously taken a larger sub-sample could be at a disadvantage in terms of technical compliance with the Blue Book method and analysis cost, even though their method has a greater chance of finding asbestos. The latest draft of the Blue Book may thus push some laboratories towards a lower sensitivity screening and gravimetric quantification method.

From our discussions it is evident that most laboratories currently carrying out asbestos quantification analysis report the concentration of asbestos from the Stage 2 gravimetric analysis as a single value combining different types of ACM with the mass of fibre bundles. Some of the laboratories have indicated they are able to provide a breakdown of these fractions on request which could be very valuable for those carrying out risk assessment.

As the CIRIA guidance C733 on Asbestos in soil and made ground states, it is important that asbestos analysis is done well. In the light of the above, we recommend that those procuring laboratory analysis for screening of asbestos in soils using accredited laboratories should discuss the sample preparation and sub-sampling with their laboratory to gain a greater understanding of the quality of the analysis being carried out and its sensitivity. The information on the method should be included alongside the analysis results to enable those using the data to understand its potential limitations. Discussion with the laboratory may also help further increase the understanding of the results of subsequent gravimetric quantification.

Written by Barry Mitcheson, Principal Consultant at Wood Environment and Infrastructure Solutions UK Limited

Article Loss Prevention

Borehole Sites and Operations Regulations 1995

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The Borehole Sites and Operations (BSO) Regulations were made under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and came into force in 1995. Although many of the requirements in the BSO Regulations are now carried out routinely, they are still legally enforceable. From discussion with various people in the geotechnical industry, and with the HSE, these regulations appear to have largely been either forgotten or overlooked. The purpose of this article is to remind AGS members of the existence of these regulations and to provide a brief summary of what they entail.
The regulations can read be as a Statutory Instrument on: and also, together with HSE guidance in “A guide to the Borehole Sites and Operations Regulations 1995”, 2nd edition published 2008. A web-friendly version of the printed version, adapted for online use, is free to download from or it can be purchased from HSE Books (£18.00), ISBN 978 0 7176 6287 6.

The BSO Regulations are mostly intended to cover borehole operations for prospecting and extraction of minerals, but they also include boreholes for geotechnical investigation under the category of “Boreholes for any other purpose”.

The regulations require notification to the HSE of borehole sites and operations where the boreholes are 30m deep or more, and within a Mining Area. The boreholes may be being drilled in the future, are being drilled, or may have been drilled and have not yet been abandoned.

A Mining Area is defined as land which lies within 1000m, measured in any direction in 3 dimensions, of any mine currently being worked, or disused, or land where a licence to mine minerals has been granted for coal, natural gas, coal bed methane, or other minerals, in natural strata. Mines include shafts for access, ventilation or pumping, underground roadways, adits, and stopes but do not include opencast mines or quarries. Boreholes used for the storage of gas in natural strata reservoirs from which oil or coal bed methane has previously been extracted are also included as mining activities.

To find out if a site is within a coal mining area, you can visit the Coal Authority website Finding reliable information about areas where other minerals were mined requires more work, by reference to a variety of sources, although records may be sparse or uncertain. Reference to the shallow and deeper geology will give clues as to where these may be. Non coal mining can include ironstone, lead/tin, gold, phosphates, halite (rock salt), limestone, oil, gas and others including use of hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’). However, open cast mining (including quarrying) is not included.

Boreholes for extraction of landfill gas, along with offshore installations or activities carried out from such installations, are excluded from the BSO Regulations. However, an installation that is connected to land by a permanent structure is not an offshore installation and would be included.

For drilling of boreholes 30 metres or more in depth, inside a Mining Area, Regulations 6(3) and 6(5) apply. These are as follows:
• Regulation 6(3): “Where a borehole is being drilled within a mining area to a depth of 30 metres or more, the person entitled to drill the borehole, within 30 days after commencement of its drilling, shall notify the Executive the particulars specified in Part III of Schedule 1 [see below].”
• Regulation 6(5): “The operator of a borehole site or, in the case of particulars previously notified under paragraph (3), the person entitled to drill the borehole shall ensure that the Executive is notified as soon as reasonably practicable of any material change of circumstances which could affect particulars previously notified under … paragraph (3)”.
Part III of Schedule 1 states that the particulars required for a notification to the HSE under Regulation 6(3) are as follows:
1. Name and Address of the person entitled to drill the borehole.
2. Particulars with scale diagrams, where appropriate, of:
a. the OS National Grid Reference of the location of the top of the borehole.
b. its directional path; and
c. its terminal depth and location.
3. A description of the operations to be, or being, performed and a programme of works which includes the dates on which operations are expected to start and finish, or (if past) the dates they started and finished.

The BSO Regulations are in addition to the Health and Safety procedures that are commonly carried out to meet current requirements and expectations applicable to ground investigation works. They are also additional to the requirements to liaise with and inform the Coal Authority when drilling in coal mining areas. There may also be requirements to liaise with other authorities for drilling in mining areas for minerals other than coal.

Article contributed by Chris Vincett, Associate Director, Hydrock Consultants Limited


Q&A with Marian Markham

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Full Name: Marian Markham BSc (Hons) MSc CGeol FGS PIEMA
Job Title: Principal Geoenvironmental Scientist
Company: Jacobs

Marian is a Chartered Geologist with the Geological Society, London and a Practitioner member of IEMA. She has over 15 years professional experience working at Halcrow Group Limited, now Jacobs. She has worked on a range of land development and infrastructure projects in the UK from desk study to remediation verification stage, often involving demolition and engineering of made ground. Marian holds an undergraduate degree in Geology and a MSc in Environmental Biogeochemistry. Her vocational qualifications include the qualifications BOHS P402 Buildings Surveys and NEBOSH National Certificate in Construction Health and Safety.

What or who inspired you to join the geotechnical industry?
I grew up near Lyme Regis and my interest in geology was inspired from an early age by the ever-changing and eroding Jurassic cliffs there and the legacy of Mary Anning, one of history’s most important fossil collectors and palaeontologists, whose portrait now proudly hangs in the reception of the Geological Society’s Burlington House.

What does a typical day entail?
I do not have a routine day, as you will have read many times before in this magazine about geotechnical and geoenvironmental professionals! No two projects or sites are the same in terms of land quality and assessment. I am currently splitting my time between London and Peterborough, working on the ground investigation design for the Lower Thames Crossing project.

Are there any projects which you’re particularly proud to have been a part of?
HS2 Ltd London-West Midlands ground investigation and my current Lower Thames Crossing project which are both huge infrastructure projects which will help to support the UK transport network and economy.

What are the most challenging aspects of your role?
Keeping up with constantly evolving UK geoenvironmental legislation and industry best practice across a discipline which involves air, water, land, planning, environmental impacts, social, waste management etc.

What AGS Working Group(s) are you a Member of and what are your current focuses?
I am a member of the Safety Working Group and the Contaminated Land Working Group. My current focus is on finalising the revised AGS Asbestos Risk Assessment for Ground Investigations.

What do you enjoy most about being an AGS Member?
I am the only geoenvironmental scientist in my office. It is therefore really helpful to be able to meet with other professionals at AGS meetings to directly discuss experiences and knowledge of current health, safety and geoenvironmental issues and challenges that our industry faces.

What do you find beneficial about being an AGS Member?
I believe the AGS guidance documents and magazine are a useful source of guidance directly from geotechnical practitioners. It is also important for the AGS members to be able to lobby Regulators and other key stakeholders as a united voice from a well-respected professional body, not just an individual. I will also be attending the AGS Conference in April, for which free* tickets are available to AGS members. *Terms and Conditions apply.

Why do you feel the AGS is important to the industry?
The mix of ground investigation contractors, suppliers and consultants who can all exchange views, concerns, ideas, safety alerts and publish useful industry guidance and technical standards on improving our science, which is made available to all through the AGS website.

What changes would you like to see implemented in the geotechnical industry?
I would like it to be accepted as normal and run of the mill for a robust and fully financed site investigation to be seen as part of the solution to support a competent design and successful construction of a development project, rather than part of the problem.


AGS Photography Competition – The Results

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In September 2018, the AGS launched their first photography competition to try and capture the industry’s most creative working images.

A staggered 71 entries were submitted, each covering a range of topics across the geotechnical and geoenvironmental sector including site work, team work, landscape imagery and machinery shots.

The AGS Magazine Editorial Board took the challenging task to judge the images by scoring across four criteria;

  • Originality and Relevance
  • Composition
  • Colour, Lighting, Exposure and Focus
  • Overall Impression, Impact and Visual Appeal

23 images were shortlisted, and we’re pleased to announce the overall winner of the competition who won a Fortnum and Mason Piccadilly Hamper, and two runners up who have each won a bottle of Champagne;

  • 1ST PLACE: Chris Dimelow, Lankelma – Nearshore Investigations near Youghal. Image taken by John Delaney
  • 2ND PLACE: Johanna Houlahan, RSK – Rampion Offshore Wind Farm. Image taken by Johanna Houlahan
  • 3RD PLACE: Hiram Menezes Goncalves, Imperial College – Shoreham Quarry. Image taken by Hiram Menezes Goncalves



Credit: John Delaney

In summer 2018, Lankelma’s Sandpiper C-5 jack-up carried out nearshore investigations for three potential landfall sites near Youghal, at the Irish end of a proposed 500km-long subsea electricity connection between EIRE and France. Wireline Geobore-S drilling and push-sampling formed part of feasibility studies by EirGrid and Réseau de Transport d’Électricité.



Credit: Johanna Houlahan

This photograph showcases the UK south coast’s first offshore wind farm – Rampion Offshore Wind Farm. Rampion consists of 116 wind turbines off the West Sussex coast near Worthing. RSK personnel from offices throughout the UK across numerous disciplines, including geosciences, have helped to help bring this project to fruition.



Credit: Hiram Menezes Goncalves

 The photo was taken in Shoreham Quarry, in West Sussex, as part of a site visit of an Imperial College MSc research. The 30m high Chalk Cliff holds a variety of rock mass features relevant to engineering practice: Faults, dissolution features, flint bands, sub horizontal beddings, subvertical joint sets, soil infilling fractures, preferential water paths.


The AGS would like to thank all those who took the time to enter the photography competition. The overall standard of entries was extremely high, and the judging panel found the task challenging in shortlisting the top three entries.


CL:AIRE Training Courses 2019

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CL:AIRE Training Courses 2019

CL:AIRE has a number of training courses available in 2019, information can be found below:

Brownfield Site investigation

E-Learning course

Soil and Groundwater Risk Assessment

E-Learning course

Sustainable Remediation Appraisal

E-Learning course

Asbestos Awareness for Land Professionals

E-Learning course


25th April 2019: Nottingham

18th June 2019: Newcastle

9th July 2019: Reading

15th October 2019: Nottingham

28th November 2019: Reading

Non Licensed Work for Land Professionals

5th March 2019: Reading – only 9 spaces available

2nd July 2019: Reading

Non Licensed Work for Groundworkers

14th May 2019: Reading

12th November 2019: Reading

Verification of Gas Protection Systems

26th February 2019 : Doncaster

30th April 2019: Doncaster

8th October 2019: Doncaster


All courses (except elearning and gas verification) are also available on a bespoke basis. Please go to Help Desk and provide your requirements:


LQM training events (including QGIS)

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LQM training events (including QGIS)

LQM are running two one-day entirely hands-on GIS for Contaminated Land (27 & 28th February 2019) courses to cater for both beginners and current users looking to more efficiently translate data into information:

QGIS 1: Building a QGIS project – the road to data visualisation

QGIS 2: Solving & Visualising Contaminated Land Problems using QGIS

These courses will help you more effectively and efficiently inform your conceptual site model, site investigation (SI) design, interrogate your AGS SI data and produce informative spatial and temporal infographics and not just meaningless pages of data.

Read the LQM blog on data which includes a video of how groundwater levels and ground gas concentrations varies with time and location across a site … and how you can learn to produce such a video for your own data.

Also LQM’s ever popular 5-day series Introduction to Contaminated Land Management starts next week (23nd January 2018) – attendance for all 5 days is heavily discounted or just attend one or more days to suit your needs. Other courses and webinars via LQM website.


AGS Annual Conference 2019

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The AGS are pleased to announce that their inaugural Annual Conference is taking place on Wednesday 3rd April at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham.

Previously known as Members’ Day, this full day seminar will focus on the work and achievements of the AGS and see expert speakers present on geotechnical and geoenvironmental topics and summarise lessons learnt. Please see working event programme below:

Between a rock and hard place: communicating geoscience to dissonant and wary publics: Iain Stewart, Professor of Geoscience Communication and Director, Sustainable Earth Institute at University of Plymouth
The geological subsurface represents an alien frontier in public consciousness – out of sight and out of mind. Increasingly, however, underground geological issues are rising to the surface as acute community concerns over conventional resource extraction and new public anxieties about novel insertions of waters and waste. So how do we communicate these complex geoscientific issues with an increasingly dissonant and wary public? This talk explores how approaches from popular mass media and from social science disciplines can be integrated into a new evidence-based geo-communication science that address the emergent issues of ‘contested geoscience’.

Emerging challenges with new and old contaminants: Phil Crowcroft, Technical Fellow at ERM
Ground contamination continues to present a range of challenges, whether associated with substances we haven’t considered before, or substances which are well-known, but our understanding of their properties is changing. New knowledge on toxicology, availability and other characteristics can change our assessment of risk, and lead to changes in Drinking Water Standards, EQS values or human health Assessment Criteria. Whilst in the past we have tended to focus on specific elements or compounds such as arsenic or sulphate, we are now as much concerned about the size of particles such as microplastics, or their persistence in the environment, such as the PFAS group of chemicals. This paper reviews some of the most recent issues where our approach to assessing sites may need to adapt in the coming years.

Reducing uncertainty – the quest for representative sample: Chris Swainston, Principal Environmental Engineer at Soils and Mike Plimmer, Technical Director at Geotechnical and Environmental Associates
Can the recent AGS sampling guidance together with the old and new British and Iso standards and guidance, assist in reducing uncertainty? A discussion of the uncertainties associated with soil sampling, the variations in laboratory sample preparation techniques and the difficulties in avoiding cross contamination where very low concentration thresholds are to be adopted.

Delivering geotechnical value in a multi-disciplinary environment: Patrick Cox, Director Major Projects at AECOM
By provoking thought and discussion of our future as a step towards transformation of perception of our specific area of industry, the presentation aims to:

  • Describe and illustrate where and how geotechnical specialists can add tangible value by talking the language of clients and project teams tasked with building an asset considering what really matters to them in plain terms;
  • Start the body of knowledge to change the conversation around why geotechnical specialists should be first on the team sheet in a multi-disciplinary project in contact with the ground;
  • Provide actual examples quantifying time / cost / meaningful benefits to clients and others involved in projects in aspects such as earthworks, retaining walls, foundations and site investigation potentially forming the basis of a new approach to guidance on why involvement is required, a carrot (incentive through benefits) rather than a stick (inadequate information will result in claims);
  • Offer pointers around engagement to sell our services and solutions and provoke discussion on how we engage with those other than the converted;
  • Consider the Rethinking Site Investigation concept, moving away from commoditisation of the industry and how to encourage more intelligent approaches to our communication of value that aren’t reliant on assumptions of a given right to SI or only request more budget through the simplistic linkage of project value to SI budget.

Practical Asbestos Ground Investigations: James Macfarlane, Technical Director (Asbestos) at Hydrock
This presentation will;
• Discuss the impact of the Control of Asbestos Regulations relative to asbestos in soils;
• Discuss the relative risks between asbestos in buildings vs. soils
• Highlight the evolution of asbestos in soils ground investigation works and industry guidance;
• Introduction to the AGS ‘Ground Investigations – Work with Asbestos Risk Assessment’ guidance
• Practical implementation of the guidance
• Case Study

Who Owns Data? The Legal Considerations of Transfer of AGS Data: Jackie Bland, IT Manager at Geotechnics, David Entwisle, Senior Engineering Geologist at BGS, Steve Walthall and Hugh Mallet, Technical Director at BuroHappold Engineering.

A small presentation will also be provided by each AGS Working Group Leader.

A limited number of delegates per AGS member company may attend the conference free of charge. The number of complimentary tickets provided are dependent on the number of practitioners in your company*, (please see Table 1 on page 2 of the registration form). Additional tickets may be purchased for £60 (plus VAT) per AGS Member.

To confirm your attendance please complete the below registration and return it to before Friday 22nd March 2019. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

AGS Annual Conference registration form


Envirolab provides laboratory services spanning a broad organic and inorganic portfolio. Our reputation for excellence is built on continually providing our clients with reliable results delivered on time and within budget. Our UKAS and MCERTS accreditations guarantee our commitment to quality.

Celebrating their 10th year as a leading ground investigation contractor and consultancy in the UK, Land Science work on many different geotechnical and geo-environmental projects for a diverse range of clients.

Quantum Geotechnical, based in South Wales and South West England, working nationwide, provides a comprehensive service across the ground investigation, geotechnical contracting and geotechnical consultancy sectors. We have a specialist fleet of multi-purpose drilling rigs, a UKAS accredited in-house laboratory and a team of experienced and chartered engineers and geologists.

AmbiSense is a technology company operating in the environmental sector. We build machine learning models utilizing field deployable sensor technologies and contextual data sources to simplify, automate and improve the delivery of environmental risk assessment. Through real-time sensor platforms, we generate unique insights into a multitude of industrial and environmental processes.

NHBC is the UK’s leading warranty and insurance provider for new homes. NHBC sets standards for its registered house builders and works to improve the construction quality of the homes they build. NHBC is a non-profit distributing organisation with no shareholders that dedicates resources and technical expertise to support the industry in raising the standards of new homes.

Lankelma specialise in high-quality cone penetration testing (CPT), delivering ground investigations and providing engineering consultancy for construction projects. We have an extensive fleet of CPT equipment, operated by experienced staff, which can be mobilised anywhere in the world.

Fugro is the leading international provider of geo-intelligence and asset integrity solutions with expertise extending from pre-construction site investigation to measurement, monitoring and testing throughout the asset life. Our experts acquire and analyse geo-data and provide insight and advice helping you achieve your budget, programme and quality objectives.

Equipe offer a vast array of services; their expertise ranges from specialist geotechnical health and safety training for on-site staff, to developing innovations that will make your life easier and your workflow smoother. Their strategic partnerships with industry experts, health and safety specialists and software developers means their catalogue of services is unparalleled in the geotechnical sector.

Landmark Information specialises in data and technology to help land, property and environmental professionals calculate, manage and reduce potential risks. It does this by providing a range of market-leading desktop reports, digital mapping and consultancy services to support organisations in a range of areas including flood risk management and climate change adaptation reporting.

Derwentside Environmental Testing Services offer a range of analytical services for the environmental, construction, waste, fuel and engineering industries, and are accredited to ISO 17025 and MCERTS for soils and waters. DETS also have a team of six vans and drivers to facilitate sample collection, and an online reporting system to enable data access 24/7.

RAW is a market leading remediation contractor, specialising in recent and historical contamination issues, determining contaminant fate, transport and impact to building structures, groundwater, surface waters and soils / materials. RAW undertakes design and implementation of diverse, cost-effective remediation solutions, offering an innovative approach and extensive experience.

With over 50 years of experience, Soil Engineering are one of the country’s foremost Ground Investigation and Specialist Grouting Contractors. The comprehensive in-house geotechnical laboratory, continually updated plant fleet, and ongoing investment in training and staff development, allow Soil Engineering to provide a reliable and cost-effective solution for any geotechnical project, throughout the UK.

Concept is an award-winning geotechnical specialist operating from regional offices thought-out the UK. Our in depth understanding of project design requirements allow us to assist our Clients in the planning, procurement, completion and interpretation of all aspects of the site investigation work; be that geotechnical, environmental or structural.

Formed in 2012, Causeway, a GI contractor has expanded quickly to employing around 100 staff members, with a fleet of over 60 vehicles operating across Ireland and Great Britain. Our core values and integrity have remained unchanged throughout this time, with our primary goal being customer satisfaction for each and every contract.

In Situ Site Investigation is a multi-national specialist geotechnical and geo-environmental site investigation company, which specialises in the use of Cone Penetration Testing techniques including seismic, shear vane, video cone, pressuremeter, magnetometer, MiHpt & MOSTAP sampling. Our specialised rigs enable us to work in most locations including railways, marine, brownfield sites, river slopes & mountainous terrain.

BAM Ritchies is the leading-edge provider of ground engineering services and is fully focused on supporting the UK’s major infrastructure projects. Partnering with our customers at the earliest stage of the project life cycle, we use advanced techniques, equipment and digital technology to deliver optimum, best value solutions

Geotechnical Engineering Ltd is the UK’s largest privately-owned ground investigation contractor, renowned for providing a range of innovative ground investigation services for thousands of land-based projects since 1961. From Utility Surveying to all aspects of ground investigation and having our own UKAS accredited laboratory, we are proud to call ourselves industry experts.

Geoterra are geospatial engineers and consultant chartered land surveyors who specialise in above and below ground geo-referenced surveys.
Geoterra utilise a variety of innovative solutions to obtain accurate survey data upon which engineering decisions can be made, reducing the risk of the unknown; what lies beneath. We offer clients unique solutions for their various requirements throughout the UK.

i2 Analytical is a leading independent testing and analytical laboratory. i2’s Geotechnical, Environmental Chemistry and Asbestos laboratories are equipped with state of the art equipment; and along with on-site testing services, support a range of sectors including Civil Engineering and GeoEnvironmental contractors/consultants.

Geosense is a leading UK manufacturer of instrumentation for the geotechnical, structural, mining and environmental industries.
Established in 1992, Geosense specialises in vibrating wire and MEMS sensors, which are used to produce a wide range of instruments. In addition, the company manufactures automated data acquisition systems, including wireless systems.

Sponsorship opportunities are available at the AGS Annual Conference, and can provide an excellent marketing platform for companies wishing to increase their profile and raise awareness of their company initiatives. The following sponsorship package is currently available;

SILVER SPONSORSHIP PACKAGE (AGS Member Rate: £400/ Non-Member Rate: £480)
• Entry for one delegate into the event
• Company logo on event PowerPoint Presentation holding slide
• Company logo on the event programme
• Company overview on the AGS website
• Announcement of your company’s involvement on the AGS Twitter page

Prices exclude VAT.

For further information on the event and sponsorship opportunities contact Caroline Kratz on 0208 658 8212 or email