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Reflections on the AGS 2016 Members’ Day and Speaker Presentations

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From Matthew Baldwin, AGS Chairman

Each year the AGS Chairman assisted by various committee members and the Secretariat, are faced with organising Members’ Day. This is no small task and requires the AGS to think carefully about what will make Members’ Day an event worth attending.

This includes the selection of an appropriate venue, inviting external speakers to present on themes that are topical and relevant to specific areas of the industry, as well as making sure subcommittee Chairmen produce a succinct report of work undertaken by their subcommittees over the preceding year!

The 2016 AGS Members’ Day was no different, although this year we were trying both a new venue and date for the event; the first time that Member’s Day had not been held on Rankine lecture day for many years. As I said in my introduction on Members’ Day, this change of venue and date was necessitated for two reasons. Firstly, the available space for sponsors and members to move round and interact at the RGS (the home for Members’ Day for several years), was severely limited and meant that we couldn’t actually accept any further sponsors. Secondly, Imperial College have started to hold an afternoon seminar to precede the Rankine lecture. Because a number of AGS members wished to attend this seminar, it meant that they were forced to choose between Members’ Day and the seminar.

In view of these concerns, it was decided to move both venue and date for 2016. Whilst both I and the AGS Secretariat believe that this year’s Members’ Day was very good and produced positive feedback, the real test lies in members’ feedback. Once we have digested your comments on the questionnaire that we asked you to complete, we will make a decision about where we hold 2017 Members’ Day.

Although not deliberate, the theme of the topics delivered by the invited speakers, all had as a common thread, collaboration and how as an industry we can do things better in the future. David Place of Mott MacDonald demonstrated the benefits of continual modification of the design (backed up by real time performance observations) during construction work on the Moorgate Shaft. In talking about unexploded ordnance in relation to both land and marine projects, Robin Rickard of Alpha Associates emphasised the need for all parties to think about the risk at an early stage and not wait until construction was about to break ground.

After the lunch break, Tim Chapman of Arup provided a thought provoking look at the possible future for geotechnics in the UK and emphasised the need for the industry to both learn and do things differently if it was going to be relevant to society as a whole. This was followed by Derek Smith asking whether ‘any old bit of plastic’ would do for use in design that utilised geosynthetics. Whilst clearly indicating that appropriate materials needed to be used, he made a compelling case on environmental grounds for the use of such materials becoming the norm in future projects. The final presentation of the day was on Geodata management in relation to the HS2 project and was given by Felicity Sims of HS2. She explained how powerful a comprehensive and joined up electronic database could be for a major project.

In summary I hope that all members and indeed any non-members who came along to hear what the AGS has to offer, enjoyed this year’s Members’ Day. The work of the AGS to better represent the industry in all areas is on-going and as I stressed at Members’ Day, the committee both values and needs members views and ideas to ensure that we remain relevant and reflect industry concerns and issues. As Tim Chapman said, none of us can afford to rest on our laurels and not look at ways to improve!

Presentations from AGS Members’ Day can be viewed below;

1) Matthew Baldwin Chairman’s Introduction

2) John Talbot BPWG Report 2015-16 – FINAL

3) Neil Parry Contaminated Land Report

4) David Place The Accelerated Programme for the Moorgate Shaft

5) Jackie Bland Data Management Report

6) John Masters Laboratories Working Group report

7) Hugh Mallett Loss Prevention Working Group report

8) Robin Rickard 6Alpha Associates

9) Julian Lovell Safety Working Group report

10) Tim Chapman The Shape of the Geotechnical Engineering Industry in 2025

11) Derek Smith Geosynthetics: any old bit of plastic will do

12) Felicity Sims Geodata management on the HS2 project so far

10) Matthew Baldwin Chairman’s 2016 AGM Summary

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AGS Members’ Day 2015 Summary

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The Association of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists’ annual Members’ Day event recently took place at the prestigious Royal Geographical Society, located in the heart of Kensington.


Attended by a record number of delegates, this year’s event saw a series of respected industry experts present to over 130 members on a number of topics including health and safety, basement construction and laboratory testing. Delegates also took part in an interactive panel discussion on the dangers of asbestos.


This year’s speakers included Joe Murphy, (Head of Health and Safety – Area South at High Speed 2), Dr Richard Ogden (Senior Environmental Scientist at Land Quality Management), Mike Cohen (Technical Development Manager at Derwentside Environmental Testing Services) and Marc Separovic (Technical Projects Manager at NHBC). All six AGS Working Group Chairs also provided an update on their ongoing activities and accomplishments, whilst Ciaran Jennings (Director at Forum Court Associates) talked delegates through the new AGS website, which officially launched on the day.


The 26th Annual General Meeting also took place which saw Seamus Lefroy-Brooks (LBH Wembley) complete his Chairmanship before handing the reigns to Matthew Baldwin (Soil Engineering) who officially started his two-year term.


As incoming chairman, it was pleasing to see so many members attending the AGS Members’ Day on 18th March. The Royal Geographic Society provides an appropriate venue for Members’ Day and being able to use the main lecture theatre provides everyone with both good visual and auditory experiences of the speakers who contribute to the success of the event.


The AGS always tries to provide speakers on topical issues and this year was no exception. I thought the presentations on basements and the health and safety issues related to HS2, to be especially relevant. This years’ after lunch presentation by Mike Cohen, (often referred to as the graveyard shift!), was one of the best ‘wake me up’ presentations I have ever seen.  The final discussion panel on asbestos allowed some lively debate from members and was a fitting end to the day.


I hope that next year we will again attract speakers to present on relevant topics and it would be interesting to get an update on HS2, both from an operational and health and safety viewpoint,” summarised Matthew Baldwin, Chairman of the Association of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists


The AGS would like to take this opportunity to thank our 14 sponsors who made this event possible; ESG, Southern Testing, ALS Environmental, CGL, Envirolab, Geotechnical Engineering, In Situ Site Investigation, Keynetix, Soil Engineering Geoservices, Concept, Structural Soils, Mouchel, NHBC and Equipe Group.


To view a selection of this years’ Members’ Day presentations, please click on the below links;
















AGS Members’ Day – March 2015

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9.30am – 16.30pm, Wednesday 18th March 2015

Royal Geological Society, 
1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR

AGS Members day incorporates our AGM and will feature a number of presentations on the issues that are front of mind for the geotechnical and geoenvironmental industry.

This year’s programme includes a panel discussion on Asbestos and the issues it raises within the practice area of managing the risks for contaminated land. Presentations will also be given on the “Ground Investigation Requirements for HS2” and “Educating Consultants on Laboratory Testing”.

The full programme can be download here –  AGS Members’ Day programe A4 FINAL