Annual Conference 2023

27th Apr 2023
The Barbican, London [ View on map ]

The AGS Annual Conference took place on Thursday 27th April 2023 at the Barbican Centre in London.

This full day, networking event saw six guest speakers present on a variety of hot topics, and short presentations from each of the AGS Working Group Leaders.

Speakers included Nick Sartain, Head of Geotechnical Engineering (HS2), Joel Carson, CEO Executive Director (Geoprofessional Business Association) who flew in from America to present, Edd Lewis, Data Standards Lead (British Geological Survey), Luke Deamer, Group Sustainability Manager (Keller) and Chaido (Yuli) Doulala-Rigby, Chief Civil Engineer & Business Development EH (Tensar) and Vivien Dent, Technical Specialist: Green Growth and Delivery (Environment Agency). The conference was Chaired by AGS Chair, Sally Hudson and AGS Chair Elect, Vivien Dent.


Presentation Synopsis and PDF’s 

Opening Address

Sally Hudson, Regional Director at Coffey Geotechnics and AGS Chair



Better Productivity Through Better Communication

Nick Sartain , Head of Geotechnical Engineering, HS2

Digital technologies are driving significant change within the industry and are require data-driven communication more than ever before. This presentation will investigate what is necessary for excellent communication of digital information, what benefits this will bring, and will describe some projects underway to improve on current practice.



Business Practice Report 

Vivien Dent, AGS Chair Elect and Technical Specialist: Green Growth and Delivery at the Environment Agency



Instrumentation and Monitoring Report 

Daniele Fornelli, AGS Instrumentation and Monitoring Working Group Leader and Associate Technical Director at Geotechnical Observations



Building Sustainability from the Bottom Up: Embedding Sustainability throughout Geotechnical Companies

Luke Deamer, Group Sustainability Manager at Keller

Some of the most common drivers of sustainability are client demand and legislation. Both of these are important, but they can quickly be forgotten in smaller projects, or can be dismissed as a compliance exercise. In this presentation, Luke therefore explores the wider opportunities of sustainability to geotechnical companies.

Importantly, he also explores how every geotechnical employee has a role to play in improving sustainability. From the smallest project to the largest, from Procurement to HR, Luke pulls out best practices from across our sector. Through these process-level improvements, he advocates for sustainability to be built from the bottom-up.



Contaminated Land Report  

Alex Lee, AGS Contaminated Land Working Group Leader and Principal at HKA



Data Management Report  

Jackie Bland, AGS Data Management Working Group Leader and Principal Ground Investigation Data Manager at Structural Soils



Environment Agency Updates

Vivien Dent, Technical Specialist: Green Growth and Delivery at the Environment Agency

The presentation will provide an update on various Environment Agency issues, projects and guidance relevant to the AGS.



Learning from Others’ Pain – Loss Prevention through Lessons Learned

Joel Carson, CEO Executive Director, Geoprofessional Business Association (from USA)

What if we could learn from other people’s mistakes? Attend this session and learn about GBA’s library of over 110 Case Histories. Real life projects that went horribly wrong. Learn how you can avoid risk by learning from other people’s real-life losses. Most importantly learn the most common lessons learned so you can avoid them on future projects to be smarter, stronger, and more successful.



Geotechnical Report   

Alex Dent, AGS Geotechnical Working Group Leader and Associate Director at WSP



Safety Report 

Jon Rayner, AGS Safety Working Group Leader and SH&E Director at Aecom


Good Practice & Lessons Learned in Constructing Reinforced Soil Structures using Granular, Site-Won and other Non-‘Standard’ Reinforced Fills

Chaido Doulala-Rigby (Yuli), Chief Civil Engineer and Business Development at Tensar International

A brief historic review from the origin of stabilized earth concept to today’s use of polymer geogrids in construction, sharing the ‘dos’, the ‘don’ts’ and lessons learned from around the world in construction practice, and illustrating how to effectively use site-won and other non-‘standard’, unusual reinforced soil fills.



Laboratories Report 

Will Fardon, AGS Laboratories Working Group Leader and Technical Director at Chemtech Environmental



Loss Prevention Report  

Jo Strange, AGS Loss Prevention Working Group Leader and Technical Director at CGL



Subsurface Data Sharing and The Geospatial Commission’s Construction Playbook; BGS improved AGS data ingestion and delivery and What’s next for the National Geotechnical Properties Database?

Edward Lewis (Data Standards Lead at British Geological Survey

The Construction Playbook recommends the use of “boilerplate” model clauses in contracts, including the recently published “HMG Model Clause – Subsurface Data Sharing” which states that JCT and NEC3/NEC4 contracted projects require the AGS data from these to be submitted to the National Geoscience Data Centre (the “NGDC”) of the British Geological Survey (the “BGS”), “to become part of the UK repository of subsurface data for re-access and longevity.” We will outline the data ingestion, storage & delivery process for the data you’ve collected, including new tools we’re developing to make the data, including the BGS National Geotechnical Properties Database, more Q-FAIR (Quality, Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable).



Closing Address 

Vivien Dent, AGS Chair Elect and Technical Specialist: Green Growth and Delivery at the Environment Agency




Soil Engineering

Soil Engineering are award winning suppliers of Geotechnical services across the UK. Celebrating 60 years of consistent excellence in Ground Investigation, Grouting and Geotechnical Testing, we provide our project partners with bespoke solutions and high-quality data. Our regional teams provide national coverage perfectly paired with local expertise. 

Geotechnical Engineering

Geotechnical Engineering is the leading independent provider of ground investigation in the UK, offering comprehensive services for over 60 years. Our self-assured digital data has been utilised by clients to mitigate ground risk on over 37,000 projects, earning Geotechnical the reputation as a technically capable delivery partner.

In Situ Site Investigation

In Situ Site Investigation is a specialist geotechnical and geo-environmental site investigation company carrying out all aspects of Cone Penetration Testing (CPT) techniques as well as all methods of Pressuremeters. Our expanding array of rigs and equipment enable us to work on any site across the UK and worldwide.


Geosense is an award-winning UK manufacturer of instrumentation used globally by the geotechnical, structural, mining, and environmental industries. Our extensive rangeof sensors and data acquisition systems provide reliable, accurate real-time data. With more than 30 years experience, Geosense has worked on some of the most prestigious projects worldwide, from HS2 to the biggest copper mines and dams.


Seequent builds world-leading subsurface software, helping create a better understanding of the earth to ensure a better world for all. We are constantly evolving at the forefront of technology to transform how geo-professionals work, eliminating barriers to understanding by integrating software, teams, and the tools they need. Headquartered in New Zealand with global reach, Seequent is the subsurface software company within Bentley Systems. Together, we are helping build a more resilient world.


As the UK’s market leading provider of site investigations, SOCOTEC provides expert field operations backed up by UKAS-accredited analytical testing and proven technical support. With 80 years’ experience in delivering high quality services, we help our clients to minimise ground related uncertainty and risk, as well as maximising efficiencies.


Groundsure Insights provides detailed data for every site, whether it’s small, large, constantly shaped, or awkwardly linear. Built on decades of GIS and data expertise, our unrivalled library includes the largest historical land use data, unique datasets, current and historic mapping delivered in a clear simple format. This enables our consultancy, geotechnical and architect clients integrate potential risk and site data into their workflow easily and add value to their own assessments for their clients. Our data comes as slick PDF reports or customizable GIS data, backed by superb customer support, ensuring that we lead the market in delivering certainty and clarity on environmental risk.

Dunelm Geotechnical & Environmental Ltd

Dunelm have 50 years’ experience as leaders in the field of ground investigation. Having complete accreditation for Quality, Environment and Health and Safety, our clients are afforded a first class service. Our highly qualified, experienced staff and in-house drilling services deliver an efficient and flexible service to all our clients.


Equipe are the UK’s leading provider of geotechnical training, innovations, assessments and events. Specialising in creating solutions for the geotechnical market, Equipe offer specialist health & safety courses alongside in-depth technical training such as soil & rock description logging and geotechnical foundation design.

BAM Ritchies

BAM Ritchies are the award winning SMARter Ground Engineering contractor with over 60 years’ experience. We’ve built a reputation as the go-to ground engineering team for complex problem solving and best-value, sustainable delivery – with no surprises. We use industry-leading digital construction methods to stage digital rehearsals. So you’ll know exactly what to expect from your project, and we’ll get it right first time.

Concept Consultants

Concept provides accurate, expert site investigation, in-house laboratory, instrumentation, and survey services to deliver the highest quality data in the most cost-effective and efficient manner.
Unrivalled in London, and with a reach across the UK and beyond, our broad client base includes Consultants, Developers, Insurance Companies, Architects, and Government Agencies.


AFITEXINOV UK LTD is a specialist manufacturer of geosynthetic solutions for over 30 years. Our services are focused on applications such as structural drainage, water barrier linings and soil reinforcement solutions. Our focus industry sectors are in geotechnical applications in public works, environmental projects, residential developments and mining activities.


Envirolab is an BS EN ISO/IEC 17025 and MCertS accredited laboratory, based in Hyde, UK. Providing analytical services on soil and water for over 25 years.Envirolab do not negotiate on quality, the highest standard is set every time. Contact us on 01613684921 or

British Geological Survey

The British Geological Survey is a world-leading geological survey and global geoscience organisation, focused on public-good science for government and research to understand earth and environmental processes. BGS advances understanding of the structure, properties and processes of the solid Earth system through interdisciplinary surveys, monitoring and research for societal benefits.


Fugro is the world’s leading Geo-data specialist, collecting and analysing comprehensive information about the Earth and the structures built upon it. With expertise in site characterisation and asset integrity, our clients are supported in the safe, sustainable and efficient design, construction and operation of their assets throughout the full lifecycle.


The UK’s only government assured unexploded ordnance company, Brimstone provides unsurpassed UXO risk management services in the UK and overseas. We support the geological, environmental, construction and defence sectors, with the capabilities to offer a full spectrum of UXO risk mitigation services, from initial risk assessments to final explosive demolitions.

1st Line Defence

Founded in 2012, 1st Line Defence have become the UK’s market leaders in the provision of unexploded ordnance (UXO) risk mitigation services. We assess and provide solutions to the risk posed across the UK from unexploded bombs and munitions related to current and former military land use and aerial bombing.


Nick Sartain
Head of Geotechnical Engineering, HS2 Ltd

Nick has more than 25 years’ experience in geotechnical engineering and major projects in the UK and oversees. He is currently responsible for the specification and integration of geotechnical workstreams across the High Speed 2 programme. He is Visiting Professor of Transport Infrastructure Engineering at Loughborough University.

Luke Deamer
Group Sustainability Manager at Keller

Luke is Group Sustainability Manager for Keller. He recently carried out a PhD focused on supporting the adoption of improved sustainable processes across all function of a geotechnical company. Luke has authored several papers on geotechnical company sustainability and sits on the FPS and EFFC sustainability working groups. He has previously worked as a structural geologist on the Panama Canal and the Oman Drilling Project.

Vivien Dent
Technical Specialist: Green Growth and Delivery at the Environment Agency

Vivien is a hydrogeologist with over 25 years’ experience working in contaminated land, specialising in groundwater risk assessment. Vivien recently moved to the EA where she works on major projects in the Herts and North London area. She is the current Chair Elect of the AGS.

Joel Carson
CEO Executive Director, Geoprofessional Business Association
Joel G. Carson is the Geoprofessional Business Association’s (USA) CEO and Executive Director, managing the association’s operations strategy and actings as the primary liaison.
Prior to this, Joel was a practicing geoprofessional consultant for more than 25 years, serving as a Senior Vice President, and Senior Principal owner. He is a seasoned public speaker who has presented loss prevention and business optimization topics to thousands of geoprofessionals across the globe.
Chaido Doulala-Rigby (Yuli)
Chief Civil Engineer and Business Development at Tensar International

Yuli is a Chartered Engineer (CEng) and a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers (FICE) with 30 years’ experience in geotechnical engineering, and in particular with geosynthetics. Yuli has been working for Tensar International over the past 17+ years and she has served as a past Chair of the UK Chapter of the International Geosynthetics Society (IGS).

Sally Hudson
AGS Chair and Regional Director at Coffey Geotechnics Limited, A Tetra Tech Company

Sally has 30 years’ experience in the ground engineering industry and has responsibility for the delivery and management of geotechnical risk on a wide range of projects.

She has worked in the site investigation field for specialist contractors and for design consultancies on many major transport and energy infrastructure schemes, on earthworks design schemes and asset management in the road, rail and energy sectors.

Sally has more recently concentrated on business development and technical management of geotechnical operations within Coffey in the UK and is a past AGS Business Practice Working Group Leader.

Edward Lewis
Data Standards Lead, British Geological Survey

Edd Lewis is the Data Standards Lead at the British Geological Survey, responsible for improving their data provision by using geospatial data standards to better align with FAIR data principles. He is a member of the British Standard Institute IST/36 Geographic Information committee, MEDIN standards committee, Association of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists (AGS) AGS Data Format committee and contributor to ISO/TC 211 & OGC standards.