Posts by Katie Kennedy


Using Survey Information for New Drains and Sewers

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As pressure increases to use brownfield sites for new housing, the specialist skills involved in assessing the risks that contaminants pose to the quality of the water entering the surface water drainage and foul water sewerage system from the surrounding soil, is vitally important to house developers and water companies. The BPF Pipes Group has prepared a new guide “Designing drains and sewers for brownfield sites” providing drainage engineers with clear advice on choosing a pipe which will be fit for the long term, starting with the information available to them from the investigation of potentially contaminated land and drawing on the materials expertise from pipe manufacturers.

Effect of contaminants on ingress

An initial flow diagram in the guide sets out a step-by-step process for the drainage engineer to identify if a quantitative risk assessment has been carried out, whether the contaminants could pose a risk if left in the ground and whether the source or the pathway might be removed due to the proposed remediation plans.

The geotechnical specialist undertaking the quantitative risk assessment and options appraisal can support the drainage engineer by drawing out the essential information from the site history and soil sampling:
• confirming where there is (and is not) a possible source of contamination – this is particularly pertinent on large sites with a mixed history of use;
• clearly setting out what chemicals are present from the many included in the test report and in which zones (areas) of the site; and
• explaining the mitigation strategies proposed so that any impact on the source of contamination or the pathway can be recognised.

Suitability of materials for drains and sewers

A second flow diagram in the guide assists the engineer to identify the impact that residual contaminants may have on plastic pipe materials.

Where organic compounds are shown to be present in the soil, the guidance provides limits for PAH, BTEX and TPH which represent a safe level with respect to long-term performance of polypropylene, polyethylene and PVC-U pipes. The engineer is again reminded that any remediation activities which might remove the source of the contamination or the pathway to the drainage or sewerage system would render these limits superfluous.

Working together

The BPF Pipes Group guide provides practical assistance on designing drains and sewers for brownfield sites.

However, to be truly useful to the drainage engineer, it requires that a risk assessment has been completed, an options appraisal has been carried out to identify solutions, and that the geotechnical specialist provides information in a form which can readily be used in the decision-making process.

Working together, clear and targeted information can be offered, ensuring the longevity of the surface water drainage and foul sewerage networks on brownfield sites.

The guide is available on its website at

Article contributed by the British Plastics Federation Pipes Group

Article Contaminated Land

AGS Guidelines to Good Practice in Geoenvironmental Ground Investigation – Update

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It has long been the aim of the Contaminated Land Working Group to produce a definitive guide to ground investigation good practice similar to that produced for Geotechnical Ground Investigation in 2016. As with many things in life, I feel that this has rather been eclipsed by events. The definition of good practice has certainly changed over time and the available standards and guidance available from BSI, ISO, CEN, AGS, CIRIA, CL:AIRE and many others continues to develop around us. Indeed, there is a veritable treasure trove of training and advice available on almost any aspect of site investigation, sampling and monitoring you care to consider and keeping up with them all, and especially acting on them, can be a job in itself. This is even more true if you subscribe to or work under ISO9001 et al. With the publication of the ISO BS 18400 series on Soil Quality, hopefully some of this existing variation will be resolved, rationalised and summarised to some extent.

Having been in this business for over 25 years now, training students, young practitioners and fellow professionals in the art and science of site investigation, sampling and monitoring as well as being current chair of BSI EH/4 (responsible for BS10175), I am perhaps more aware than most of the sheer range of material out there. Indeed, I have noted on previous occasions that if stacked on top of each other, the guidance alone would probably reach to your waist. So, do we really need any more guidance on this topic? Well perhaps the main reason for doing so would be to at least provide a road map and summary of where to find all the other information you might need to know (or at least should know about) when undertaking or commissioning a ground investigation.

Firstly though, we should step back and consider what ground investigation actually is and why we undertake them in the first place. In simple terms investigation is the process used to determine and quantify remaining unknowns from the Conceptual Site Model (CSM). As such, actual ground investigation can come in many forms, types, phases and be given many (often confusing) names depending on how, where, when and what is planned. For a Desk Study or preliminary investigation for example this is usually as a site visit and observation and then remotely from the office following a review of the available data.

If, following an initial assessment of the CSM, a risk has the potential to be present, potentially significant unknowns remain and/or further quantification of perceived issues is required, we then move on to designing the intrusive or main investigation phase. This should be based on and reflect consideration of a range of factors depending on both what we know and what we don’t and should ultimately dictate where we look, sample, install and monitor real world locations and materials. This can be followed by any number of additional supplementary investigations to confirm specific aspects, the most common of which is probably undertaken to determine the extents, composition and nature of identified deleterious materials to thereby assist in the production of a site-specific materials management plans and/or remediation strategy.

So, given the above, what is Geoenvironmental Ground Investigation? This is somewhat of an open question really and as with many things depends ultimately on context and perception. For Geoenvironmental practitioners, I think the clue is in the name and should be about following a scientifically justifiable, recordable and systematic approach to digging holes in the ground and finding out what’s there. What happens afterwards is a whole topic and world of its own beyond the scope of consideration in this discussion, but should be considered and questioned when designing any investigation. What you plan to do with the data you will gather should in part, through consideration of the CSM, resources, available analysis, analytical tools available, etc. dictate what data you actually get from the investigation. Failure to appreciate this aspect from the start of the process can sometimes lead to quite significant problems and costs further down the line.

So, where do we go from here? Well a good stop-gap and the method I would generally suggest at the moment as a starting point to anyone who asks, is to look to the various standards that guidance themselves reference, especially given that all good practice should ultimately be standards driven or at least backed by standard references. BS10175 is a good summary of most of what you need to know when investigating potentially contaminated land and has extensive references to other relevant standards including in the most recent update/revision, the BS ISO 18400 series. So how would I write an AGS guidance note for good practice in Geoenvironmental ground investigation? Well I can certainly think of worse than a white page with a large arrow pointing to the latest version of BS10175 and the BS ISO 18400 series. But, as I chair of the committee that looks after all of this for BSI, I suppose I would say that wouldn’t I….

Opinion piece provided by Chris Swainston, Principal Environmental Engineer at Soils Limited

Article Executive

Notes from the Chair – Julian Lovell

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New AGS Chair Julian Lovell discusses the state of the Association, wider industry and his aims and aspirations as the newly elected Chair.

It is a great honour for me to have been voted on as Chair of the AGS during the Annual Conference in April. It also fills me with a little trepidation as I feel I am following a lot of great past Chairs and have a great responsibility to continue the good work they started.

I feel that the industry is in a good place and the Annual Conference (formally known as Member’s Day) had one of its best attendances. There was a notable buzz around the exhibition hall and conference and there was a real positive feel to the day. This is an industry which I have grown to love and I will help to drive the AGS to continue to promote all of the good work it does and contribute to improving it.

So, what are my aspirations for the AGS and industry during my tenure? The industry has changed over the last 30 years, in some ways for the better and some not so. I have learnt over that time that it is important to want to do a good job, have pride in what you do and collaborate. These are not only good traits for me as an individual but also for any organisation including the AGS.

I truly believe that we have some exceptional people within our industry and the young Engineer’s talks at Geotechnica last year indicated that this will continue at least for the immediate generations. However, there are influences such as the current procurement processes which is far too often (some might say always) driving down cost which does not help an industry or Clients to recognise its value. So, as with many industries, we find ourselves in a fight to the bottom and aspects of our work which should develop pride such as a good job done and technical quality becomes a secondary or even tertiary consideration. In March, we had our first meeting of the AGS Procurement of Ground Investigation Steering Group. This initiative has set out to question the current system and to develop new approaches to improve procurement and understanding of Ground Investigations. This is not a small project but there appears to be a ground swell with catastrophies, such as Carillion failing, driving other industries to look at these processes. This will be a collaborative initiative led by the AGS, FPS and BDA and will engage with the wider geotechnical community and other industries.

Over the last five years, the AGS has set its stall out as an organisation and have started to focus on delivery of our aims. It is now my duty to move this forward. Improved engagement internally within the industry has started but there is still a lot of work to be done but we are also looking to improve relationships with academia and other sectors. Currently, academia is also looking to industry to help it, as many of the geology/environmental/earth related graduate courses are battling declining numbers. There is a desire amongst some of those establishments to develop more courses and they understand that these should be developed to meet industry needs and therefore the AGS will have a role to play in this. We also need to develop a strategy to encourage students to pick those courses otherwise the industry will be fighting over less and less skilled people.

As an organisation we have not been good at communicating what we do as an organisation or as an industry to those outside of the AGS Committees. AGS is renowned for the data format but those involved in the Association know we represent the membership in so many more ways and we are a very active body. The AGS represents the geotechnical and geoenvironmental industry and it is the industry which should drive the Association and not the Committees. So for me, the AGS is the industry’s body and therefore more people in the industry should get involved.

Communication is a very interesting subject and academics like Prof. Iain Stewart who gave a thought provoking talk at the Annual Conference provide a different perspective on the subject. For the last 30 years I have attended conference after conference and meeting after meeting where we agree that ‘we must educate the client’. For the last 30 years and previous to that we have clearly failed. We will always have educated clients such as Highways England, Network Rail etc but we will also always have Project Management organisations, Main Contractors, Developers who we will never truly educate. Principally, this is because when we talk passionately about what we do, we talk a different language and often have very different goals. We will always be very good at talking amongst ourselves and agreeing a way forward but unless it is communicated in the client’s terms and language we will continue to fail. So with the help of people like Iain and Hazel at University of Plymouth I believe we can make progress. However, we need to be able to communicate with the client and if we truly believed we could ever educate the client then we would no longer be ‘specialists’.

So let’s recognise the true value we bring to the projects we are involved with and shout about it, improve how we share best practice, learn from lessons, share knowledge and collaborate better. That way we can provide a unified voice as AGS to promote and improve our industry.

News Business Practice Contaminated Land Executive Geotechnical Laboratories Loss Prevention Safety

AGS Awards 2019

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This year’s AGS Awards took place during the Annual General Meeting at AGS Annual Conference 2019 on Wednesday 3rd April at the National Motorcycle Museum, in Birmingham.

A select number of AGS Working Group Members, who were nominated by their Working Group Leaders, were presented with awards and commendations by Neil Parry, AGS Chair, to thank them for their contribution and dedication to the AGS over the past year.

AGS Award Winners 2019
AGS Executive Award
Matthew Baldwin
Matthew chaired the AGS between 2015 and 2017, overseeing some significant changes in the way the Association operates and interacts with its members. He was instrumental in the setting up of a Geotechnical Working Group and has always been a strong believer in the successful delivery of the output of all our working groups to the membership. Prior to becoming chair Matthew was Leader of the Business Practice Working Group, which focused on making the AGS relevant and accessible during his tenure. He sees the AGS as a mark of quality and during the years where he has been a member has fervently promoted this aim.

AGS Business Practice Working Group Award
John Talbot
John has been a stalwart of the AGS for decades and has been instrumental in working with the Business Practice Working Group to ensure the AGS’s values are maintained, membership applicants meet the requirements and that AGS governance is maintained at a high level. He has been a primary source for compliance and has been instrumental in revisions of the AGS Byelaws, Articles, Membership Criteria and Membership Values amongst many others. He chaired the committee with vigour and control and has worked selflessly for the good of the AGS and its members.

AGS Contaminated Land Working Group Award
Marian Markham of Jacobs
For her work on updating the AGS Asbestos in Soils guidance.

AGS Geotechnical Working Group Award
Chris Raison of Raison Foster Associates
Chris is a founding member of the Geotechnical Working Group and is a well-known industry figure and a long-term supporter of the AGS. Chris is a highly experienced Geotechnical Engineer and well respected for his clarity and independence of thought. He has used this knowledge and his industry contacts to represent the UK in term of the drafting of amendments to the new Eurocode 7 suite of standards. Chris is passionate about the role and status of the Geotechnical Engineer in the construction industry and is a strong advocate of the importance of suitable consideration of geotechnical risk in the development of all projects. He has represented the Geotechnical Engineering Industry in a variety of institutions in the UK and has written thought provoking articles for the ICE and at various conferences as well as for the AGS. We can think of no better person to receive an AGS award on behalf of the Geotechnical Engineering Working Group.

AGS Laboratories Working Group Award
Dave Entwisle
For his long-time service to the geological and geotechnical community as a now retired (before April 3) BGS employee, active participation in various AGS groups and standard development.

AGS Loss Prevention Working Group Award
Zita Mansi of Beale & Co
This is to reflect her long-standing contribution to the AGS and the Loss Prevention Working Group over more than 10 years. Zita has been instrumental in the research and preparation of numerous Loss Prevention Alerts and Newsletter articles, as well as providing the first responder on the AGS Legal Helpline. Where other members of the LPWG have drafted Alerts, Articles and Guidance Zita has been generous with her time and always helpful in subjecting those documents to legal scrutiny. Her comments are always kind, useful and improve the advice to Members. In particular, Zita was instrumental in the up-dating of the Loss Prevention Guidance papers where she was able to use her contacts to find a barrister able to conduct the legal up-date to all the 20+ papers. Without this help, the Papers could not have been published and would have to have been archived and lost as a most valuable resource for AGS Members. Zita is now leaving BLM but has persuaded her new firm (Beale & Co) to become members and the new hosts of the Loss Prevention Working Group (and to keep the Legal Helpline running from this new location).
On the basis of all of this invaluable contribution, we would very much like to recognise Zita’s significant contribution to the AGS and the Loss Prevention Working Group with an AGS Award.

AGS Safety Working Group Award
Peter Boyd
Peter has been an invaluable member of the AGS Safety Working Group and has created several concise and excellent guidance documents during his time in the group and also produced some informative articles in the AGS magazine. Peter announced his retirement from the group at the end of 2018 and this is a reward for all his hard work.

AGS Commendations 2019
AGS Safety Working Group Commendation
Marian Markham of Jacobs

Article Safety

Q&A with Roseanna Bloxham

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Full Name: Roseanna Bloxham BEng (Hons) FGS
Job Title: Senior geo-environmental engineer
Company: RSK Environment Ltd

I am a senior geo-environmental engineer in the geosciences team at international environmental and engineering consultancy RSK. Based in our Hemel Hempstead office, I am a project manager, health and safety lead for RSK’s UK contract with Shell, on the ASG Safety Working Group, and have recently been invited to join the CL:AIRE Technology and Research Group. I am also a STEM ambassador and outside of work I am a Guide leader, volunteer at a local theatre, play hockey twice a week (and find time for the gym!)

What or who inspired you to join the geotechnical industry?
I was never pushed to study engineering or take it on as a career, however having a father who is a civil engineer might have helped. From a young age I did not know exactly what I wanted to do and, to be honest, I still do not know what is in store for the future. At A-level I chose the subjects I enjoyed the most, which for me was physics, maths and physical education. Then when it came to choose a degree, all I knew was that I did not want an office job. I saw the engineering geology and geotechnics degree at the University of Portsmouth and it seemed like it was made for me: a perfect balance of fieldwork and class-based study leading me in to the geotechnical industry.

What does a typical day entail?
To be honest there is no ‘typical day’ in this industry and I have found that no two days are the same. Every project we work on has its own challenges that need to be overcome. For me, this makes the job exciting and enables me to develop my knowledge and skills every day.

Are there any projects which you’re particularly proud to have been a part of?
I have thoroughly enjoyed all the projects I have worked on during my career with RSK but if I had to choose I would say working as health and safety lead on RSK’s Shell contract, as it has hugely shaped my career in terms of both development and my role within health and safety. In addition, my geotechnical expertise has improved significantly since working with Redrow on a large housing project, where I have been involved in the construction of several retaining walls.

What are the most challenging aspects of your role?
The most challenging part of my role is having the courage to say ‘no’. Project opportunities arise on a daily basis and knowing your limits within regards to time commitments and expertise is a big part of being successful. Whist I would like to be able to help with everything, I have learnt the hard way that sometimes we have to say no.

What AGS Working Group(s) are you a Member of and what are your current focuses?
I am currently a member of the AGS Safety Working Group. Our focus is the creation of bespoke and clear guidance for ground engineers. We are currently working on updating several existing documents.

What do you enjoy most about being an AGS Member?
I enjoy being able to share the skills I have learnt with others in the industry as well as being able to network and gain new insights from others.

What do you find beneficial about being an AGS Member?
The AGS helps to provide support to the industry and being part of the group enables me to have access to the excellent guidance they provide, and gain support and knowledge from other members.

Why do you feel the AGS is important to the industry?
The AGS is an important hub for the industry and it is a great way of networking and sharing new ideas. It also provides essential guidance on ever changing standards and sheds light on complicated legal jargon.

What changes would you like to see implemented in the geotechnical industry?
I would like to see an increased use in technology. The world is ever changing and every day we are seeing further developments to improve our future. Rather than fearing its capabilities we need to embrace what technology can do to improve or replace existing techniques.


Site Investigation 2019

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Site Investigation 2019
2019-06-2727th Jun 2019

Environment Analyst and Brownfield Briefing are pleased to announce this annual conference will be returning to London on 27 June, and will examine the key drivers in site investigation, analyse the associated risks and explore the latest innovative techniques and advances in modelling and data analysis, all of which can help to significantly improve the quality of contaminated land risk assessments.

Aimed at regulators, consultants, remediation contractors and other industry experts, this conference will offer updates on NPPF 2018: A new approach to viability, provide tools on ground risk prioritisation, delve into geological modeling and the need to understand ground variability and subsequent hazards, whilst providing the perfect platform to network with like minded professionals.

AGS members receive 10% off with the code AGS10.

For more information, please click here.


Waste Management 2019

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Waste Management 2019
2019-05-2121st May 2019

Environment Analyst and Brownfield Briefing are pleased to announce Waste Management 2019 will be coming to London on 21 May with practical solutions to a variety of waste management issues, such as landfill development, leaching contaminated material, dealing with asbestos in construction waste, and more.

Aimed at landowners, developers, regulators, solicitors, consultants and contractors, this one day conference will equip you with the knowledge and tools to ensure that your waste practices adhere to new legislation and that you have a comprehensive overview of any potential implications which may arise from these changes.

AGS members receive 10% off with the code AGS10.

For more information, please click here.

Article Loss Prevention

What are Collateral Warranties?

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The AGS Loss Prevention Working Group has just published another paper for the Loss Prevention Guidance 2017 document, namely “Loss Prevention Guidance 024 – Collateral Warranties”. This gives guidance on the use of collateral warranties to confer rights related to the main contract of appointment on persons or organisations who are not party to that contract, ie third parties.

Many AGS members who do not get involved in the contracts and legal side of geotechnical engineering and geoenvironmental work will not be familiar with the use of collateral warranties. This article explains what collateral warranties are for the benefit of AGS member organisations and their employees who are not contractual or legal specialists.

A collateral warranty is a contract between two parties, separate from and alongside contracts for work, services or supply (the ‘principal contracts’). Collateral warranties create direct contractual links between third parties (such as future occupiers of buildings and funders of projects) and the consultants or contractors with whom such third parties would ordinarily have no contractual link. A collateral warranty gives a third party (or several third parties) rights to sue when they might not otherwise have that right.

It provides for liability to third parties in respect of non-fulfilment or defective performance of the principal contract. The beneficiary of the collateral warranty is not normally the same person as the beneficiary of the principal contract, but the person undertaking the work, service or supply obligation under the principal contract undertakes the liability under the contractual warranty to the third party.

An everyday example of a collateral warranty is the manufacturer’s guarantee that comes with electrical goods purchased from a shop. The manufacture who originally produced the goods is not a party to the contract of sale between the shop-keeper and the purchaser. However, the manufacturer promises the consumer that if the goods are not satisfactory he will put the problem right or provide compensation. The guarantee is a legally binding contract separate from, and alongside (ie collateral to) the contract between the consumer and the shop-keeper.

The manufacturer can use the guarantee to define and limit his liability, subject to the consumer’s statutory rights under the Sale of Goods Act (1979). It can also help to reduce the likelihood of the shop-keeper and intermediate suppliers becoming involved in disputes over liability, and hence reduce or eliminate any additional legal costs that have to be borne eventually by the manufacturer if his goods are found to be faulty.

An example related to the work of AGS members would be where they have undertaken work such as a ground investigation for a developer and are subsequently requested to enter into a collateral warranty by the developer who wants his purchasers and tenants to have a right of action against the designer and builder of the development should some defect be found in the future. This may assist the developer in obtaining funding for the project and assist in selling or leasing the site when work has been completed.

Other ways in which third parties can gain rights of action against AGS members are the use of the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 and by reassignment of liability by means of a letter of reliance. More details of these and what AGS members should do to limit their exposure to business risks when entering into these agreements are described in the AGS LPG 024.
AGS Loss Prevention Guidance is available for free for AGS Members on the AGS website here. For non-members, the AGS Loss Prevention Guidance costs £50 + VAT and can be downloaded here.

This article was contributed by David Hutchinson, AGS Honorary Member.

Article Geotechnical

AGS Geotechnical Working Group Update

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Stephen West of Ramboll, the Leader of the Geotechnical Working Group, has provided an update on the top issues the Geotechnical Working Group are discussing following the group’s first two meetings of 2019.

Developing tools to aid members in the delivery of excellence in Ground Investigation
The Geotechnical Working Group are working on the final draft of a ‘thought piece’ on the risks involved with inadequately planned and designed GI for members and project stakeholders. The group are also looking to produce an information pack to assist AGS members liaising on this issue with non-specialist project stakeholders and professional bodies.
Whilst overall value of PI related claims is dropping the proportion of these relevant to the Geotechnical Industry still remains the same. Many of these are due to inadequate allowance for specialist geotechnical input at the right stage of projects, if at all. We are looking to help our members convince regular clients and project partners why getting them ‘round the table’ is best value in the long term and protects the interests of all.

Promotion of early stage career development and training for Geotechnical Engineers and Engineering Geologists in the Construction Industry
The Geotechnical Working Group are focusing on the promotion of early stage career development and training for Geotechnical Engineers and Engineering Geologists in the Construction Industry by setting up a sub-working group to explore this issue which will include representatives from key Universities.
Budget constraints and the demands of programme mean that many of the ‘hands on’ training in terms of dealing with and investigating/testing geological materials is not being provided during many University courses. We are looking to help members target the right training at new graduates to deliver our business requirements as efficiently as possible.

Engagement with the update process of the Geotechnical Suite of Eurocodes
The Geotechnical Working Group are also involved in the update process of the Geotechnical Suite of Eurocodes and sub-working groups are being primed to review relevant parts of 02 and 03 editions of BS EN1997 starting in May.
As an Industry, we must take our part in commenting and advising the Eurocode drafting committees to ensure that these codes align with suitable practice in terms of design/interpretation/investigation for geotechnical elements.

What impact do these issues have on AGS Members and what should the AGS do about these issues?
In simple terms, all of these issues can cost our members in terms of lost income, lost project opportunity, and industry reputation and often these losses are not directly down to our members actions or decisions. We are endeavouring to raise suitable consideration of Geotechnical Engineering issues up the agenda of all construction projects, not just the larger value infrastructure and commercial schemes.
The AGS can look to use the weight of expertise in our working groups to interact with other institutions, large public clients, and government to ‘fight our corner’ on these issues.

Additional topics being discussed by the Geotechnical Working Group
Other issues providing significant discussion within our group have included: suitable consideration of health and safety in ground investigation proposals, it is clear that CDM regulations are not being followed by many who procure ground investigation; inconsistency of terminology for common laboratory tests and resultant parameters, this is of particular importance when National scale projects use terminology different to that set out in relevant codes; suitable use of pile and anchor load testing to actually investigate the load carrying capacity of the ground these foundation elements are located within, “don’t be afraid to fail your test piles and anchors!”.


AGS Magazine: May 2019

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The Association of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists are pleased to announce the May issue of their publication; AGS Magazine. To view the magazine click HERE.

This free, 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;

Notes from the Chair – Julian Lovell – Page 4
AGS Annual Conference 2019 – Overview – Page 7
Commercial Risks and How to Manage Them: AGS Loss Prevention Seminar – Page 10
AGS Award Winners 2019 – Page 12
What are Collateral Warranties? – Page 14
Using Survey Information for New Drains and Sewers – Page 16
Working Group Focus: Geotechnical – Page 18
Q&A with Roseanna Bloxham of RSK Environment – Page 20
AGS Guide to Good Practice in Geoenvironmental Ground Investigation Update – Page 22

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.

Article Safety

Safety Alert – Dangers of wearing lanyards whilst driving

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The AGS have been made aware of a safety alert published by Anglian Water on the dangers of wearing lanyards whilst driving.

The safety alert can be viewed here.

If you have any safety alerts you think AGS members would benefit from please forward them to the AGS Secretariat at Please note Safety Alerts provided to the AGS will be shared among all members and made available on the website for visitors.


AGS Annual Conference 2019 – an overview and speaker presentations

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This year’s AGS Annual Conference, previously known as Members’ Day returned to the National Motorcycle Museum, where AGS Members’ Day 2018 took place. As last year’s Members’ Day was so popular with attendees and sponsors, it was an easy decision to return to the same venue.

The day was a great success and well attended by nearly 200 delegates.

The presentations covered a range of geotechnical and geoenvironmental topics which were well received.

Prof. Iain Stewart of the University of Plymouth presented an interesting talk on how it can be difficult communicating geoscience to dissonant and wary publics, highlighting that when information is complex, people make decisions based on their values and beliefs and people most trust those whose values mirror their own.

Chris Swainston of Soils and Mike Plimmer of Geotechnical and Environmental Associates gave a Geoenvironmental Standards update including the Standards which are due to be published shortly. Chris and Mike also looked at uncertainty in sampling and how this can be only be reduced by doing more sampling and testing.

Patrick Cox of AECOM provided an insight into the Value of Ground Engineering explaining that value is not necessarily the lowest cost or the quickest solution. Patrick’s talk also covered ‘The Five Capitals Model’ which takes sustainability into consideration. More information on this model can be viewed here.

Following Guy Lane’s talk on AGS data at Members’ Day 2018, Roger Chandler of Keynetix and Steve Walthall, AGS Honorary Member, provided their view on ‘Who owns data’ explaining there are still ongoing discussions about whether the producer or client own the data and suggesting that a way forward could be that AGS Data is made available to all under open license.

Phil Crowcroft of ERM presented examples of Emerging Contaminants including Lead, Asbestos, Mercury, Phthalates, PFAS and Microplastics and the concerns surrounding these. During his presentation, Phil explained that not all ‘emerging contaminants’ were new substances but included sontaminants which we now have a better understanding of their effect on the environment or human health. Phil explained that it’s the properties which substances exhibit which are of concern and it often takes 20 years or more to see the negative effects that a substance has.

The final talk of the day was provided by James Macfarlane of Hydrock on Practical Asbestos Ground Investigations, who highlighted the industry have produced a number of guidance documents focusing on asbestos in soils and covered potential issues with asbestos on site investigations. This led to a discussion regarding the relevance and pragmatism of current guidance with relation to standard ground investigations. It is hoped that AGS will produce guidance to address this.

All the AGS Working Group Leaders delivered updates on what they have been working on over the past year.

Jonathan Gammon was made an Honorary Member of the AGS during the AGM and Neil Parry presented individuals with awards for their hard work and contribution to the AGS after being nominated by the Working Group Leaders.

Special thanks to this year’s speakers; Prof. Iain Stewart (University of Plymouth), Chris Swainston (Soils), Mike Plimmer (Geotechnical and Environmental Associates), Patrick Cox (AECOM), Roger Chandler (Keynetix), Steve Walthall, Phil Crowcroft (ERM) and James Macfarlane (Hydrock).
Special thanks also to this year’s sponsors and exhibitors.

Presentations from AGS Annual Conference can be viewed below:
1. Business Practice Working Group Report – Julian Lovell
2. Between a Rock and Hard Place: Communicating Geoscience to Dissonant and Wary Publics
3. Contaminated Land Working Group Report – Vivian Dent
4. Reducing Uncertainty – The Quest for Representative Samples – Chris Swainston and Mike Plimmer
5. Geotechnical Working Group Report – Stephen West
6. Delivering Geotechnical Value in a Multi-Disciplinary Environment – Patrick Cox
7. Data Format Working Group Report – Jackie Bland
8. Who Owns Data? – Roger Chandler and Steve Walthall
9. Laboratories Working Group Report – Dimitris Xirouchakis
10. Emerging Challenges with New and Old Contaminants – Phil Crowcroft
11. Loss Prevention Working Group Report – Hugh Mallett
12. Safety Working Group Report – Adam Latimer
13. Practical Asbestos Ground Investigations – James Macfarlane