Article Business Practice Executive

Engineering, Geology, Geotechnics

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University of Portsmouth’s Industrial Alliance in Engineering Geology & Geotechnics starts to show results

The University of Portsmouth is the only institution in the UK to offer an undergraduate degree in Engineering, Geology and Geotechnics. It has been running for over 40 years since its launch in 1967.

The overarching ethos of the degree is to prepare graduates with a good science background for a career in the ground engineering industry. Our students are focussed individuals who have identified this unique degree as a gateway to a satisfying professional career in the civil, mining or offshore sectors.

Up until 2008 the degree was a standard three year full time degree. However, in order to boost numbers and the calibre of students we decided a re-think was in order. In close collaboration with a number of major ground engineering companies we developed a sandwich version of our undergraduate degree with an associated Industrial Bursary Scheme. The scheme offers selected students a bursary of £1,750 per year plus a paid 8 week placement at the end of Level 1 and a paid 44 week placement at the end of Level 2.

The main objectives of this course restructuring are:

  1. To increase the pool of talented employable Engineering Geologists and Geotechnical Engineers in the UK
  2. To attract high quality students with good Science A-levels, Diploma or IB qualifications into the Profession of Engineering Geology and Geotechnical Engineering
  3. To secure a sustainable cohort of high quality students joining the B.Eng in Engineering Geology and Geotechnics (Sandwich) Degree pathway at the University of Portsmouth
  4. To forge strong links between the ground engineering industry and the University of Portsmouth

The sandwich degree and bursary scheme has had the desired effect – our second intake (2010-11) is up by 30% to 30 students, the majority with at least 2 science subjects or equivalent at A-level. The first intake of students onto the sandwich is at present seeking industrial placements for 2011-12.

We currently have seven companies actively involved in providing the bursary which is the main driver for recruitment. Therefore the key to the degree’s continued success and growth is support from Industry by either offering placements or bursaries. Our aim is to increase the number of bursaries on offer so we expand the course with high quality science based students who will feed into the UK ground engineering industry.

The foundation of our degree lies in the geological sciences which are built upon in Level 2 with Units taken in Soil Mechanics, Rock Mechanics, Hydrogeology, Ground Investigation, and Engineering Geology of the UK. In Level 3 these subjects are developed into Units in Rock Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering, Contaminated Land, and Landslides and Slope Stability. Underpinning the degree is an integrated field work program where key skills such as geological & geomorphological mapping, soil & rock description, and rock mass characterisation are developed. Transferable skills such as geotechnical report writing, air photo interpretation, use of geotechnical software packages, and GIS are also embedded into the curriculum.

If you would like to find out more about the degree course or the Industrial Bursary scheme, please contact the Programme Manager Nick Koor:, t. (023) 9284 8484. Details can also be found about the course and Bursary on our web site

Article Contaminated Land Laboratories

PPC Site Reports – Change in EA Policy

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The Environment Agency issued a new policy and guidance on protection of land quality and preparation of site reports under the Integrated Pollution Prevention & Control (IPPC) regime in August 2003 ( The aim of the changes is to place more emphasis on pollution prevention measures within the PPC permit rather than site investigation at the time of application. It also hoped that the change will speed up processing of permit applications by the EA.

The site report accompanying the permit application (now referred to as the Application Site Report) should normally comprise the results of a desk study and site reconnaissance only. This is similar to a Phase 1a site report in the EA’s earlier terminology. Completion of intrusive investigations at this stage is NOT required except in special cases, e.g. there is insufficient data on site geology to develop the site conceptual model.

There is also now a requirement for operators to prepare a Site Protection and Monitoring Programme (SPMP) detailing how pollution of land will be prevented during the life of the installation. This has to be submitted to the EA within 2 months of the permit being issued.

Intrusive investigations to obtain ‘reference data’ (i.e. a Phase 1b or 2 assessment) are only required for zones of the site where there is ‘a reasonable possibility of future pollution of the land’ from installation activities. The guidance states that such investigations will always be required for sites with bulk storage of liquid chemicals, inadequate preventative measures or a history of pollution incidents unless it can be shown that there is little likelihood of future pollution occurring. The investigations will form part of the SPMP and where required have to be submitted to the EA within 6 months of the permit being issued.

The EA has also issued templates for the Application Site Report, design and reporting of a Site Protection & Monitoring Programme.

These changes apply to all sites in England and Wales where PPC permits have yet to be issued. Policy and guidance in Scotland and Northern Ireland currently remain unchanged. There are clearly implications for AGS members to ensure that appropriate advice is being provided to site operators applying for permits and that the most up-to-date guidance is being used.


Technical Guidance Note by IPPC H7
Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Guidance on the Protection of Land under the PPC Regime: Application Site Report and Site Protection and Monitoring Programme
H7 Reporting Template 1 – Template for an Application Site Report in PPC Applications
H7 Reporting Template 2 – Design of a Site Protection and Monitoring Programme for Installations Requiring Reference Data to be Collected
H7 Reporting Template 3 – Design of a Site Protection and Monitoring Programme for Installations that DO NOT Require Reference Data to be Collected
H7 Reporting Template 4 – First Phase Reporting of the Site Protection and Monitoring Programme for Installations where Reference Data is Required
H7 Reporting Template 5 – First Phase Reporting of the Site Protection and Monitoring Programme for Installations where Reference Data is NOT Required

These can all be downloaded at