Below Ground, Above Ground and All Around

7 November 2016

Managing environmental risks on residential developments

In engineering, as in life, prevention is better than cure. Partner Simon Boots and Associates Adam Fisher and Spencer McGawley adapted this popular saying to geotechnical, civil and environmental risk prevention during the RCN Breakfast on 20 October, sponsored by CampbellReith. Under the title “Below Ground, Above Ground and All Around”, the conference focused on management of risks on residential developments and on how to plan ahead to avoid future problems and costs.

Below Ground

Adam Fisher, geotechnical Associate in the Surrey office, emphasised the importance of knowing the details of the ground when planning any development as a first stage to get the project right. As stated during the session, the natural environment makes it difficult as it has been in constant evolution, but humans have made things even more complicated leaving behind contamination and waste. There are many reasons to justify early ground risk management, such as health and safety or environmental impact, but if no reason seems good enough, Adam said, the amount of money than can be saved can convince almost anyone of its importance.

Above Ground

Simon Boots, Partner responsible for civil and infrastructure projects, explained how relevant it is to assess the existing flood defences before planning to guarantee their efficiency. He also provided examples of projects where drainage solutions have been integrated with the scheme’s landscape, such as Aberfeldy Village, where both the blue and green environment had been successfully blended together. This is an example of how drainage risks have been consciously taken into consideration though design to mitigate the effects of the exceedance rainfall.

All Around

Spencer McGawley, Environmental Associate in the Surrey office, focused on environmental risks that can derail a construction project if not managed correctly. He stressed the importance of having time and relevant data to plan ahead to achieve planning permission and licensing. He pointed out how ecology aspects are a big issue that gets often ignored, as the living and hibernating habits of species such as bats, dormouse or badgers can affect construction developments and disrupt completely the construction schedules if not arranged properly.

Marcel Hendricks, Chairman of the Residential Construction Network, said about the session: “The potential risks in relation to unforeseen civils, environmental and geotechnical barriers on residential developments are multi-faceted.  During their presentation, CampbellReith was able to demonstrate a breadth and depth of understanding on the mitigating strategies that can be adopted to protect the interest of clients, stakeholders and the community at large”.

A Q&A session followed the presentation, and Partner James Clay, Environmental and Contaminated Land expert, joined the panel for further discussion. Questions ranged from practical examples, how to convince developers about the importance of prevention and costs involved with risk management.