Report Executive

AGS Senate: June 2018 Meeting Update

- by
Tags: Featured

The Senate, which meets four times a year, is made up of the current Officers, Working Group Leaders and elected representatives of the AGS. The duties of the Senate are to represent the entire membership of the AGS throughout the wider industry and to ensure that the AGS fulfils its purpose, including its legal and financial obligations. The Senate arranges the appointment of AGS representatives and approves various items of business (such as the Business Plan and proposed expenditure).

The Senate meeting held on 28th June 2018 in London followed a standard format to deal with AGS business and Neil Parry, the AGS Chair has provided an update on the items discussed. A significant number of items are discussed in Senate. During this meeting the topics included:

• The success of Members’ Day and the decision to hold next year’s meeting at the same venue.
• The planning of this year’s Ground Risk Conference on 12th September.
• The sending of a joint letter with the BDS to the President of the ICE regarding the shortage of Reservoir Panel Engineers.

Each of the Working Groups presented their reports to the Senate Members for comment. This ensures each of the groups can work together on various issues and prevents duplication. It is important that the groups provide a useful service to the AGS membership and their output is subject to the correct level of scrutiny.

Other items covered in the Senate meeting, which are usually on the agenda, included the Chairman’s Report, Financial Review, Membership, Meetings Programme, Strategy, forthcoming/new AGS Guides (such as the recently published AGS Guide to The Selection of Geotechnical Soil Laboratory Testing), representation on BSI and working together with other organisations.

Election to the AGS Senate, in addition to the Officers and Working Group Leaders is open to Practitioners, Affiliates, Graduate Members and Student Members. Voting is held for a number of these posts each year at the Annual General Meeting.

This article was featured in the July/August 2018 issue of the AGS Magazine which can be viewed here.

Report Laboratories

AGS Laboratories Working Group: July 2018 Meeting Update

- by
Tags: Featured

The third AGS Laboratories Working Group meeting of 2018 took place on 12th July 2018 at Geotechnica and the Laboratories Leader, Dimitris Xirouchakis of Structural Soils, has provided an update on the top three current issues the Laboratories Working Group are discussing.

Educating clients about geotechnical testing requirements, primarily, and less so about geoenvironmental testing
This issue impacts on testing quality and consequently, data quality. For instance, it was mentioned in the last meeting that geoenvironmental laboratories used to have many problems with unsuitable sample containers or sampling conditions. The UKAS requirement to report such samples as deviating has decreased the number of unsuitable samples submitted for analysis. The Laboratories Working Group are looking to contribute with a short article in the AGS Magazine on this topic.

Data quality at large; participation in Proficiency Testing and training of technicians
Clearly, samples that do not conform to testing standards are responsible for project delays, may yield low-quality results, and may create legal problems in the future. Laboratory accreditation is important as is the requirement for the labs to produce high-quality data, consistently. Participation in proficiency testing ensures that the laboratories perform testing under statistically controlled conditions.
AGS should continue educating members and non-members, especially university graduates and junior practitioners, by publishing guides and asking members to give presentations to universities or public forums. The AGS should continue to press for laboratory accreditation and high data quality.

Keeping members updated on standard development
The AGS will continue to keep Members updated on standard development.

The Laboratories Working Group are looking to increase participation, as many AGS Members have laboratories, these companies are encouraged to join the Laboratories Working Group. If you wish to attend AGS Laboratories Working Group meetings, please contact the AGS Secretariat by emailing

This article was featured in the July/August 2018 issue of the AGS Magazine which can be viewed here.

Report Geotechnical

AGS Geotechnical Working Group: April 2018 Meeting Update

- by
Tags: Featured

The second AGS Geotechnical Working Group meeting of 2018 took place on 20th April and the Geotechnical Stand-In Leader, Stephen West of Ramboll, has provided an update on the top three current issues the Geotechnical Working Group are discussing.

Improving design and execution quality of Ground Investigation
The Geotechnical Working Group are looking to improve the design and executive quality of Ground Investigation. The group are currently reaching out to client bodies to inform a short term sub-group on this issue. This issue is an important issue to the AGS as technical quality of investigation has been identified as one of the key risks in the industry and decisions made based on poor quality information generally result in a poor value project. The impact of this issue on the Members of the AGS include reduced profitability, higher insurance premiums and more time spent on defence of claims. The Geotechnical Working Group are hoping to encourage improvements in Ground Investigation design quality.

Enhancing appreciation of geotechnical issues in the construction industry supply chain
The second issue that the Geotechnical Working Group are reviewing is enhancing appreciation of geotechnical issues in the construction industry supply chain. The group are looking to generate advice notes for non-geotechnical engineering groups and engaging with bodies such as ISTRUCTE, RIBA, and NHBC etc. The group believe this issue is important to the AGS are raising the reputation and important of geotechnical across the construction supply chain will help encourage more new blood into AGS Member organisations. The impact of this issue on Members of the AGS is the reduced pool of suitable recruits to meet needs for industry growth. The group are looking to improve this issue by engaging with non-ground engineering focused industry organisations.

Ensuring Eurocode 7 update considers working practice experience
The third issue that the Geotechnical Working Group are working on is ensuring that the Eurocode 7 Update considers working practice experience. Members of the Geotechnical Working Group have been tasked with the reviewing and providing feedback on key sections of Eurocode 7.

Additional Topics being discussed by the Geotechnical Working Group
There is a great deal of interest in this year’s AGS Ground Risk Conference which is being held on 12th September 2018 at the Cavendish Conference Centre in London. This is seen as being a great opportunity to help encourage change.
The issue of the use of trial pit infiltration tests has been discussed a lot. From a technical perspective, this is seen as a questionable test driven by local authorities as opposed to actual ground parameter testing and a better way should be sought.

This update was featured in the May/June issue of the AGS Magazine which can be viewed here.

Report Contaminated Land

AGS Contaminated Land Working Group: May 2018 Meeting Update

- by
Tags: Featured

The AGS Contaminated Land Working Group met for the second time this year on Wednesday 16th May in London. With 24 representatives in attendance the meeting provided a number of geoenvironmental talking points for the group.

Here Vivien Dent, Associate Technical Director at RSK and Contaminated Land Working Group Leader provides a short summary on the top three topics of discussion;

The Contaminated Land Working Group are currently putting together a guidance note on the description of anthropogenic soils. This guidance will cover materials in the ground which fall outside the British Standard soil descriptions, which will allow a third party to understand what the material is and its implications for contaminant content and source, permeability, gas generation potential etc.

After a discussion, the group have agreed to update the AGS Asbestos in soil guidance note. The update is in its early stages and will possibly signpost other documents and will incorporate some guidance on testing.

This upcoming AGS ground risk conference is a big focus for the group as the afternoon half will focus on geoenvironmental topics. Presentations from Working Group members include Ground Gas Risk – The Risk from Incorrect Characterisation (Gavin Allsopp, NHBC) and Waste Classification for Soils – An AGS Practitioners’ Guide (Bridget Plimmer and Mike Plimmer, Golder Associates and Geotechnical and Environmental Associates).

The event is taking place at the Cavendish Conference Centre in London on Wednesday 12th September and will see Dr Jacqueline Skipper (Senior Partner and Senior Geologist at the Geotechnical Consulting Group) provide a keynote presentation to open the conference. Jacqueline was awarded the Geological Society Engineering Group Award and in 2017 was elected to receive the 18th Glossop Medal and deliver the prestigious 18th Glossop Lecture.

Delegates wishing to register for the event should email before Tuesday 4th September.

This update was featured in the May/June issue of the AGS Magazine which can be viewed here.

Report Data Management

AGS Data Management Working Group: March 2018 Meeting Update

- by
Tags: Featured

The first AGS Data Management Working Group meeting of 2018 took place on 7th March 2018 and the Data Management Leader, Jackie Bland of Geotechnics, has provided an update on the top three current issues the Data Management Working Group are discussing.

5 Year Plan
The Data Management Working Group have been discussing their five year plan, in order to know what the Group will be doing during the next five years. The plan was drafted in this meeting.

AGSi / Ground Modelling
Transferring ground models is a holy grail for the Data Management Working Group and the topic has been discussed on and off for the last five years. The sub-group working on this issue has been recently reassembled to continue their good works.

ERES Code Approval
Environmental / Contaminant codes are the key to AGS Data transfer for geoenvironmental laboratories – if there is no code available for a specific contaminant, then no data can be transferred. The AGS Laboratories Working Group and AGS Contaminated Land Working Groups have been informed of this issue and have agreed to take over the process of authorising the codes. However, guidelines will need to be drafted before this can happen.

Report Loss Prevention

AGS Loss Prevention Working Group: January 2018 Meeting Update

- by
Tags: Featured

The first AGS Loss Prevention Working Group meeting of 2018 took place on 23rd January 2018 and the Loss Prevention Leader, Hugh Mallett of BuroHappold, has provided an update on the top three current issues the Loss Prevention Working Group are discussing.

Loss Prevention Guidance (formerly known as the “Tool Kit”)
All the former toolkit papers have now been reviewed, checked and re-drafted. The papers that had become no longer relevant to current practice have been archived. All the other 23 papers will all be re-issued as the “AGS Loss Prevention Guidance – 2017” at AGS Members’ Day on 11th April 2018. (The 2017 date refers to the date the laws and legal citations were checked). The Loss Prevention Guidance is important to the AGS as the Guidance provides a substantial body of advice to members on matters ranging from the basis upon which members are appointed to provide their professional services, the potential for professional liability and how this can be managed, through to the risks of working alone and the implications of the Freedom of Information Act. The Guidance provides essential information for all members and their staff. Knowing that the legal aspects have all been checked for current relevance and up-dated should increase the confidence of member’s employees in dealing with these matters. AGS Members should always aware that specific matters can always be discussed via the AGS legal advice line managed by BLM Solicitors.

Loss Prevention Alerts on the Case of MT Hojgaard AS v E.ON (LPA 65), Construction Act Payment Provisions (LPA 66) and Japanese Knotweed (LPA 67)
These Loss Prevention Alerts have been developed and prepared over the last year. All three LPA’s were published on the AGS website in January and February 2018. The three new Loss Prevention Alerts respond to recent issues that have been raised with or on behalf of the Working Group. They provide members with an explanation of the issues that gave rise to concern and advice as to how to mitigate potential risks. The LPA’s can be downloaded here.

The Shortage of Reservoir Panel Engineers
A Position Paper highlighting the issue of the shortage of reservoir Panel Engineers has been drafted and discussed at AGS Senate. This is not solely an AGS matter of concern and it is proposed for the AGS Chairman to discuss the paper and the issues it raises to the President of the ICE. The shortage of registered Panel Engineers was identified by a member of the Loss Prevention Working Group as a looming problem due to the increased required for inspection of reservoirs, the decreasing number of persons qualified to do so and the difficulties of entry onto the register for young engineers. The position paper to be discussed with the ICE is very much a plea for action to address this gap between the requirements of the regulations and the ability of the wider industry to deliver people with the necessary skills and experience to fulfil those responsibilities.

Report Safety

AGS Safety Working Group: November 2017 Meeting Update

- by
Tags: Featured

The final AGS Safety Working Group meeting of 2017 took place on 14th November 2017 in London and the Safety Leader, Adam Latimer of Ian Farmer Associates, has provided an update on the top three current issues the Safety Working Group are discussing.

Trial Pitting Guidance
Trial Pitting has been a staple tool used within the ground investigation industry to obtain good material descriptions, samples and test data. However, with numerous changes in legislation (e.g. working at height regulations), we need to ask ourselves whether the current methodology is still fit for purpose or whether we need to totally rethink trial pitting across the industry. The AGS Guidance on Trial Pitting is regularly reviewed by the Safety group and is one of the most popular downloads by AGS Members. The group are also working on the publication of an article specifically on trial pitting, which will be in a future issue of the AGS Magazine. The AGS Guidance for the Safe Excavation of Trial Pits can be downloaded here.

Safety Alerts/Near Misses

As an industry the reporting of safety alerts, near misses and accidents remains low compared to other industries. This vital information will allow both the AGS and wider industry to continue to improve in respect of H&S performance and awareness. We actively encourage AGS Members to report any safety alerts and near misses to the AGS so we can share learnings across the wider audience. As an industry, we all need to work collaboratively to improve H&S awareness.

Increasing Participation in the Safety Working Group
The Safety Working Group are a small and dynamic team, but they would like to increase member participation in the group, which is vital to maintain a fresh and vibrant approach to H&S topics. The Safety Working Group produces numerous guidance documents which are free to download to Members which can be viewed here. If you wish to be part of the AGS Safety Working Group, please contact the AGS Secretariat by emailing

Report Business Practice

Business Practice Working Group: November 2017 Meeting Update

- by
Tags: Featured

The mission of the AGS Business Practice Working Group (BPWG) is to address and, where appropriate, improve the business practices of not only the Association, but the general geotechnical and geoenvironmental community. Led by John Talbot, the BPWG takes a lead in promoting the AGS and enhancing its membership with the aim of regenerating the AGS and increasing its overall reach.

The group had its last meeting of the year on 23rd November in London, and is currently focusing efforts on the review & reform of the AGS and marketing;

Review & Reform of the AGS
Having made huge progress in reforming the working practices of the AGS over the last two years, the Group is working on this initiative to increase awareness of the Association through the AGS’ social media channels (Twitter and LinkedIn) and through the ongoing rejuvenation of the AGS website. Since January 2017, the AGS has seen a 30% increase in Twitter followers and 27% increase in LinkedIn followers.

The AGS is also working to increase the number of seminars it holds year on year. In 2017, we organised a Geotechnical Data Conference at the National Motorcycle Museum, which saw attendance from over 140 delegates. In 2018, we’ll be holding our annual Members’ Day event and a Ground Risk event in London this September.

Marketing of AGS to the Wider Geotechnical Community
This initiative started last year and is starting to gather momentum, thanks to the drafting of the AGS Business and Marketing Plans and the launch of AGS Magazine.

This is the second issue of AGS Magazine, which has a huge reach of 6,000 subscribers across the geotechnical and geoenvironmental industry. I’m sure this figure will continue to rise month on month.

Report Laboratories

AGS Laboratories Working Group: October 2017 Meeting Update

- by
Tags: Featured

The final AGS Laboratories Working Group meeting of the year took place on 17th October 2017 in London and the Laboratories Leader, Dimitris Xirouchakis of Structural Soils, has provided an update on the top three current issues the Laboratories Working Group are discussing.

Incorporation of the published EN and ISO standards to BS 1377, update of the chemical test methods in BS 1377 and the addition of rock testing methods to BS
Soil test methods in BS 1377:1990 are being replaced by the equivalent BS EN 17892 series. Despite the similarities, small differences exist and AGS members need to educate themselves and their clients, as the new tests will eventually appear in project specifications in the UK and potentially abroad, e.g. Middle East. Furthermore, any practical or nominal updates to BS 1377 will increase its applicability. The group believe the AGS need to adapt fast to the new technical standards being published.

Raise the profile and training and certification of laboratory technicians in geotechnical laboratories
This issue is important to the group as any effort to formalise the on-the-job training received by site and laboratory technicians, as is the case for engineers and geologists, will improve the services offered. The training can be improved by offering or supporting online training by partnering with other professional organisations or universities.

To increase participation in the Laboratories Working Group

Member participation of Laboratories Working Group meetings has waned recently even though many AGS member companies have laboratories. Testing services are an important component to AGS activities and strong participation to the Laboratory Working Group should reflect that. If you wish to attend AGS Laboratories Working Group meetings, please contact the AGS Secretariat by emailing

Report Contaminated Land

Contaminated Land Working Group: October 2017 Meeting Update

- by
Tags: Featured

The AGS Contaminated Land Working Group, led by Vivien Dent (RSK) met on 11th October in London for their final meeting of the year. The group are currently focusing their efforts on three primary issues;

The Group feel there is uncertainty as to how to assess soils from construction sites. By producing the AGS stance on waste classification of soils, a unified approach across the industry can be adopted.

The Working Group have created an initial draft document which is currently being circulated for comment.

As the AGS/BRE/NHBC cover system document is over 13 years old, it is no longer used as much as it was. The Contaminated Land Working Group therefore feel that updates are required to bring the cover system up to date with current practices.

After reviewing the results of a questionnaire which was issued to Local Authorities, the Working Group have decided to compile a guidance note with updates, to make the document relevant once again. This will be a major focus for the Group in 2018.

Where the standard of ground investigation varies greatly, the AGS would like to promote best practice and raise the standard of ground investigation where needed.

The Contaminated Land Working Group have therefore drafted a document to allow members to see where improvements can be made in relation to their own work. This draft document will be ready for circulation in due course.

Report Data Management

Data Management Group Report – 19 February 2015

- by

Jackie Bland, Chair, Data Management Group writes:

Following our split of the committee to focus ourselves on both the Format and the marketing of the format, we have had one meeting which was entirely focussed on Ground Modelling / AGSi.

Ground Modelling – AGSi

AGS ground model objectives

  • Transfer of derived data
  • Contain only the content of geotechnical investigation report (GIR) – as defined by BS5930 / EC7
  • Characteristic values (GDR) not in scope
  • Purpose of interpretation must be clear


  • Publish as AGS4.1 (for public consultation) – as AGS format CSV
  • Develop and publish an XML version
    • Consider including GML
    • Release as beta version (2016-17)
    • Publish as AGS5 alongside a CSV version (2020)
  • Interface with other projects – BGS/Keynetix
    • Liaise with BuildingSmart / IFC class – open dialog with committee to establish method to progress collaboration

Conference at Geotechnica in July 2015

Julian Lovell has very kindly offered us a 2 hour slot at the exhibition which we will use as a marketing/educational opportunity for AGS4, BS8574, BIM and a workshop for AGS4i.

AGS Website

Following on from the last AGS main committee meeting in November, the website redevelopment will not include any change to the AGS Format web-pages. Instead, it will be left in its current state as a sub-site of the main website. Hilary Derbyshire will continue to maintain the pages (providing she doesn’t retire!) until more funding can be found to move it to the new platform.

Report Laboratories

Laboratories Working Group Report

- by

John Powell, Chairman, Laboratories Working Group writes:

The meeting had 8 member attendees  and 7 apologies.

BSI Committee B/526/3

Revision of BS5930: Section 8- Laboratory Testing on Samples

The public consultation is now complete with around 1000 comments being received (many just editorial) with only about half a dozen of these being for the Labs section. Publication is anticipated later this year.

Future of BS 1377 and CEN TC 341 WG6

WG6 had progressed well –

  • Parts 1 (Water Content) and 2 (Density Tests) – both were published worldwide on 31/12/2014, in the UK as BS EN ISO 17892-1 and BS EN ISO 17892-2.
  • The corresponding parts of BS1377: Part 2 (Clauses 3.2 and 7 respectively) will be withdrawn by 30/06/2015. UKAS has issued a memo relating to these two tests. Labs that are accredited to the BS equivalents can have these added to their accreditation schedules by signing a self-declaration, rather than by application, fee and audit.
  • Parts 3 (Density of Solid Particles) and 4 (Particle Size Distribution) – are under final review taking into account public comments. It is expected they will be submitted for final formal vote within a month or so, and will be published around mid-year
  • Parts 5 (incremental oedometer) and 6 (fall cone) – are in public review now (BSI website until 18 April). Please take opportunity to comment.
  • Parts 7 (Unconfined Compression test on Fine Grained Soil), 8 (Unconsolidated Undrained Triaxial Test) & 9 (Consolidated Triaxial Compression Test on Water Saturated Soils) – are close to submission for public consultation, these are expected to be out during the second half of this year.
  • Parts 10 (Direct Sheer Test) & 11 (Determination of Permeability by Constant and Falling Head) and Part 12 (Determination of Atterberg Limits) – remain under review in WG6.

The AGS lab group are to considering if there any tests they would like to be standardised and brought to European level (and other AGS members are welcome to do the same via the Labs group).

An Introduction to Geotechnical Laboratory Testing for Routine Construction Projects

In reviewing the guide reference is made to “Selection of Geotechnical Soil Laboratory Testing” and the AGS Power Point presentation on “Ground Investigation Testing”. It was agreed that these also needed a detailed review.

The document “Selection of Geotechnical Soil Laboratory Testing” would need to be reviewed by a separate sub group of consultants and others and this would require approval from the Executive. John Powell agreed to raise it at the next Executive meeting on the 19th February 2015.

All to 3 documents to be reviewed together to ensure consistency.

Membership Drive for Laboratory Testing Organisations Only

John Powell announced the Executive had approved the proposed Laboratories Seminar. It was decided the seminar would be held in October, depending on venue availability and would be aimed towards clients and consultants educating them on what Laboratories can provide and the importance of sampling.

Proficiency testing

John Masters would be running a scheme in 2015. Test to be notified.


UKAS are reinstating the Construction Technical Committee and the AGS had been invited to contribute and has asked for volunteers. Kevyn Brooks advised he had been asked to be involved also and was happy to represent the AGS.