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September / October 2018

Sustainability in Ground Engineering Is it about good design? Or is it about good marketing? Stephen Lawrence West of Ramboll discusses




Len Threadgold delves into the history of the AGS and looks at where it is going

Peter Boyd of AECOM addresses various issues on getting paid on time

A comprehensive guide from the AGS Contaminated Land Group


Chair’s Foreword Now that most of us have returned fresh from our summer holidays, we can look back on what has been an unusually fiery summer for the UK, both politically and meteorologically speaking. Levels of work continue to be reassuringly consistent, although there is a growing feeling of uncertainty entering our industry. I am writing on the back of the highly successful AGS Ground Risk Conference, held in London on the 12th September. The well-attended event had excellent feedback from the conference delegates and we consequently plan to run a number of similar events in the future. These will focus on content relevant to the different AGS working groups and we propose that they will be held in different venues across the country, as requested by our members.

and the increasingly relevant issue of sustainability in ground engineering. The article “AGS Digital Data - why is it so difficult to get?” from July’s magazine has sparked a number of responses that we have featured within the publication. The debate will hopefully influence those who are involved in the procurement and distribution of ground investigation data. We are already planning for next year’s AGS Annual Conference, which will take place on 3rd April 2019 and will be presented in a slightly different format to previous year’s Members’ Days. The AGM and AGS business will be carried out first, followed by a conference which will allow both AGS members and non-members to attend and network with others.

We would be interested in your This issue of the AGS Magazine feedback on the magazine and our future plans. Please includes a number of topical articles which we hope you will contact ags@ags.org.uk if you have any comments. find interesting and relevant. These include guidance on actions that can be taken to avoid late payment, assistance Neil Parry in describing anthropogenic AGS Chair materials, the history of the AGS, avoiding unforeseen fitness for purpose obligations



The Association of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists (AGS) is a nonprofit making trade association established to improve the profile and quality of geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering. The membership comprises of UK organisations and individuals having a common interest in the business of ground investigation, geotechnics, geoenvironmental engineering, engineering geology, geochemistry, hydrogeology, and other related disciplines. EDITORIAL BOARD Neil Parry, AGS Chairman Ciaran Jennings, Forum Court Associates Caroline Kratz, Forum Court Associates Katie Kennedy, Forum Court Associates Chris Swainston, Soils Limited Stephen West, Ramboll Calum Spires, Equipe Group Julian Lovell, Equipe Group EDITORIAL STORY If you have a news story or event which you’d like to tell our editorial team about, please contact the AGS on 020 8658 8212 or ags@ags.org.uk. Please note that articles should act as opinion pieces and not directly advertise a company. The AGS is under no obligation to feature articles and events received. CONTACT US Association of Geotechnical & Geoenvironmental Specialists Forum Court, Office 205 Devonshire House Business Centre, 29-31 Elmfield Road Bromley, Kent, BR1 1LT

 ags@ags.org.uk  020 8658 8212  Association of Geotechnical & Geoenvironmental Specialists  @agsgeotech www.ags.org.uk

Inside this month’s issue


Problems with getting paid


Peter Boyd, Operations Director of Ground Engineering at AECOM addresses various issues on getting paid on time.

Stephen Lawrence West of Ramboll discusses sustainability in ground engineering and whether it is down to good marketing.

Cashflow issues can affect business of all sizes, this guidance offers some sound advice on doing everything you can to ensure prompt payment.

THE AGS - ITS LIFE AND TIMES PAGE 12  Len Threadgold delves into the history of the AGS and looks at where it is going.

Q & A: MATTHEW BALDWIN PAGE 32  The AGS Magazine conducts a Q & A with Soil Engineering Geoservices’ Matthew Baldwin

The Description of Anthropogenic “Soils” PAGE 36  Full AGS Guidance document for describing anthropogenic soils


PAGE 4-11 

News in Short: Incl. Geotechnica 2019 launch


Responses to last issue’s “AGS Digital Data” article: Responses from Matthew Baldwin, Callum Irving and Paul Chapman

September / October 2018


News in Short LPA 65 – MT Hojgaard AS v E.ON Climate and Renewables UK Robin Rigg East Ltd & Anor [2017] UKSC 59 The AGS LPA No.65 reports on the case of MT Højgaard A/S v E.ON Climate and Renewables UK and sets out some practical advice for consultants on how

to avoid unforeseen fitness for purpose obligations. This is particularly important as liabilities arising out of such obligations may not be covered by your professional indemnity insurance policy. The Supreme Court decision in the case was published in August 2017 but is still being heavily discussed in the construction industry due to the profound impact it has on the standard of care that can be imposed on professionals by the contract documents. In this case, it was held that

the designer of a wind turbine was under a strict fitness for purpose obligation as to design life (despite the usual “reasonable skill and care” clause in their appointment) as a result of the particular wording of the technical specifications contained in the contract documents. LPA 65 - MT Hojgaard AS v E.ON Climate and Renewables UK Robin Rigg East Ltd & Anor [2017] UKSC 59 can be downloaded from the AGS website here.

The top three AGS publications for Sept’ 2018 1. AGS Guidance on the Description of Anthropogenic Materials – A Practitioners’ Guide 2. AGS Guide: The Selection of Geotechnical Soil Laboratory Testing 3. Loss Prevention Guidance 2017 - AGS Member Version To download the publications for free; click here.



AGS Photography Competition The AGS are holding their first official photography competition for the geotechnical and geoenvironmental industry. We’re on the look out for your most creative working images, whether it be a landscape project shot, a close-up laboratory testing image or simply you and your colleague’s problem solving in the office. If you’re a budding photographer or have a great engineering image which you’d like to enter, then we’d like to see it. Entry into the competition is free and the winner of the competition will win a Piccadilly wicker hamper basket from luxury retailer, Fortnum and Mason, worth £75. The hamper includes Pistachio and Clotted Cream Biscuits, Marc de Champagne Truffles, Breakfast blend Coffee, Breakfast blend tea, Strawberry Preserve, Fortum’s Piccadilly Piccalilli, Burlington Breakfast Marmalade and Fortnum’s Dao Tino. There are no restrictions on the photography equipment used, so feel free to use a phone, computer, tablet or a traditional hand-held camera to capture your image.

HOW TO ENTER Please email your image with; • A short description of what it showcases and where it was taken (up to 50 words) • Credit information (if applicable) • Your full name • Company name • Postal address to ags@ags.org.uk with the subject ‘AGS Magazine: Photography Competition 2018’ in the email. • There is no limit to the number of images you enter. • The deadline for entries is Friday 21st December 2018. • Entry into the competition is free

All entries will be reviewed by the AGS Magazine Editorial Board, who will decide on a shortlist and overall winner. Full details will be announced in the January/February 2019 issue of AGS Magazine.



• •

The AGS are looking for high resolution jpeg images (over 3MB file size and no less than 300 dpi) of a geotechnical and geoenvironmental nature. Images can include project imagery, laboratory testing, collaborative working and more. Photographs featuring staff should demonstrate health and safety procedures are in place, if appropriate.

• •

Applicants must be aged 18 or over. All images must be high resolution (over 3MB file size) and 300 DPI (dots per inch). Applicants must be based in the UK. The photographer must have full copyright of all entered images. All images entered may be reproduced by the AGS and used in future AGS event and marketing literature without prior notice. This may include usage across the AGS’ social media channels, inclusion in the AGS Magazine and on the AGS website.

September / October 2018


Ground Risk: Why Take the Chance? A Lessons Learnt Conference The conference was held at the excellent Cavendish Conference Centre near Oxford Circus, London, well located for those travelling by rail. Delegates were greeted by the venue vividly lit up in bespoke AGS green (apparently – for those who are interested – provided by an amBX lighting control system) which gave a stunning backdrop to the proceedings. There was a



very good turnout and the location was well set up for networking.

was a “ There very good turnout and the location was well set up for networking.

Speakers for the event included Stephen Tromans, recognised as one of the leading practitioners in Environmental Law in the UK, award-winning geologist, Dr Jacqueline Skipper, Dr Andrew Smith,

Coffey and Brownfield Briefing and GE Award winner, George Flower of Arcadis.

The programme was split into two, with geotechnical issues in the morning and geoenvironmental/ contaminated land risks covered after lunch. Although

to a more each Feedback on successful presentation outcome. highlighted the speaker’s Simply put widely presentations was “getting the different types either excellent or ground model and scales good... right”. of problem and risk, Feedback on the overriding the speaker’s presentations conclusion on the lessons was either excellent or good, learnt was that spending time, with one delegate saying it effort and money at the start was “one of the best technical of a project to understand conferences I have attended the ground conditions leads in recent times”. We still

feel that we can improve and plan to take all of the suggestions and comments into account when we run a number of similar events in the future, trying different venues and other AGS related content. Our aim is to make our conferences as enjoyable and informative as possible, giving attendees the best opportunity to learn and meet others.

September / October 2018


AGS Annual Conference 2019: Save the date The AGS are pleased to announce that their inaugrual Annual Conference is taking place on Wednesday 3rd April at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham.

expert speakers present on geotechnical and geoenvironmental topics and summarise lessons learnt. Full speaker details will be released in due course.

Formally known as Members’ Day, this full day seminar will focus on the work and achievements of the AGS and see

Up to two AGS Members may attend the conference free of charge. Additional tickets for the event are priced at £75 for AGS



Members and £120 for nonMembers. Prices exclude VAT. To confirm your attendance please request a registration from ags@ags.org.uk and return it by Friday 22nd March 2019. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

Sponsorship opportunities are also available at the AGS Annual Conference and can provide an excellent marketing platform for companies wishing to increase their profile and raise awareness of their company initiatives. The following sponsorship packages are available; CATERING SPONSORSHIP (AGS Member Rate: £900 / Non-Member Rate: £1,080) • • • • •

Company logo across the catering area Company logo on catering napkins Half page advert in AGS Magazine* Entry for two delegates into the event A designated area (6ft x 2.5ft) to exhibit company initiatives, research and software. This exhibition space can also showcase marketing materials, literature and banners • Company logo on the event PowerPoint presentation holding slide • Company logo and overview on the event programme • Company overview on the AGS website • Two announcements of your company’s involvement on the AGS Twitter page • Announcement of your company’s involvement on the AGS LinkedIn page *terms and conditions apply GOLD SPONSORSHIP PACKAGE (AGS Member Rate: £550/ Non-Member Rate: £660) • • • • • • •

Entry for two delegates into the event A designated area (6ft x 2.5ft) to exhibit company initiatives, research and software. This exhibition space can also showcase marketing materials, literature and banners Company logo on the event PowerPoint presentation holding slide Company logo and overview on the event programme Company overview on the AGS website Announcement of your company’s involvement on the AGS Twitter page Announcement of your company’s involvement on the AGS LinkedIn page

SILVER SPONSORSHIP PACKAGE (AGS Member Rate: £400/ Non-Member Rate: £480) • • • • •

Entry for one delegate into the event Company logo on event PowerPoint Presentation holding slide Company logo on the event programme Company overview on the AGS website Announcement of your company’s involvement on the AGS Twitter page

All prices exclude VAT. Only one Catering Sponsorship package is available. For further information on the event and sponsorship opportunities contact Caroline Kratz on 0208 658 8212 or email ags@ags.org.uk

September / October 2018


UK’s largest geotechnical conference and exhibition to return in 2019 The team behind Geotechnica confirm plans for event to return in 2019 ahead of move to biennial format The AGS is delighted to confirm it’s support of Geotechnica 2019 and that it has secured a 5% discount on all exhibition and sponsorship packages for members wishing to participate at the event. Equipe Group – organisers of UK geotechnical calendar staple, Geotechnica – have announced that the acclaimed conference and exhibition will return in to the Warwickshire Event Centre in July 2019. However, they have also



confirmed that following next year’s event Geotechnica will be moving to a biennial format with no event planned for 2020. “From 2019 onwards, Geotechnica will be shifting to a biennial model, meaning that whilst there will be a Geotechnica in 2019, there will not be a Geotechnica in 2020.” explains Calum Spires, Head Organiser for Geotechnica events. “We base our event scheduling decisions solely on feedback from our sponsors,

exhibitors and visitors. This year’s feedback indicated that the majority would be in favour of switching to a biennial model, however if the demand returned for a yearly event, we would of course explore that avenue.” The full Event Review for Geotechnica 2018 is now available for statistical analysis and feedback from July’s event, and registrations for next July are scheduled to open at the end of September. It is believed that the move

to a biennial event means that exhibition and demonstration spaces are likely to be snapped up even quicker than usual.

exhibition and “ ...demonstration

offerings.” continues Calum.

spaces are likely to be snapped up even quicker than usual.

“Whilst both the yearly and biennial models have their individual advantages, we feel that spacing Geotechnica events out slightly further gives the industry invaluable time to develop, grow and innovate. This means that when Geotechnica comes back around, the event is even better; bigger and bolder, with even more enriching content for visitors and exhibitors able to display and demonstrate their most eye-catching innovations and service

“We expect that this will mean Exhibition places are even more highly sought, along with new, exciting opportunities for exhibitors to promote their services in formal Exhibitors’ Presentation slots, as well as a newly revised and robust schedule of product and service demonstrations in our Outdoor Exhibition Area.” Geotechnica 2019 is planned to feature a full product and service exhibition, with the UK’s leading geotechnical suppliers, contractors, laboratories and associated services all being represented. The Event Organisers will

shortly be putting a formal call out for any companies wishing to demonstrate any of their services, with a strong emphasis on any new innovations recently or soon to be introduced to the UK geotechnical market. The event will again be entirely free to attend for visitors, with over 70 exhibition spaces available for companies wishing to communicate, promote, network and learn at the UK’s largest geotechnical conference and exhibition. Full event information can be found at: www.geotechnica. co.uk. For more information on how to obtain a 5% discount when booking your exhibition or sponsorship package, please contact info@geotechnia. co.uk

September / October 2018


The AGS: Its life and times A brief history by AGS Member, Len Threadgold


joined the AGS when it didn’t have a history, only a vision; but what an important vision. It came from a need for the geotechnical “Industry� to have a means of translating the aspirations of a vibrant technical and innovative engineering discipline into practice. Prior to that, the British Geotechnical Society had a dual role as a learned society and as a base from which to lead and encourage good practice by an evolving industry. The Association of Ground Investigation Specialists (AGIS) had been established earlier to further such aims but, whilst this attracted companies engaged solely in investigations, it did not seem to appeal to consultants, geotechnical contractors, client bodies and academe. The founding fathers of AGS sought to address this by forming this new association and it certainly appealed to me.



I had come from a background of Site Investigation with Cementation and Exploration Associates and loved the challenges which it posed, namely to translate the fascinatingly complex legacy of our geological and industrial past into a meaningful engineering resource for the future. This needed integration into a broader service since, at that time, there was a tendency to move away from the comprehensive package, where a site investigation specialist, based on the Glossop model of Soil Mechanics Limited, would drill, test and interpret the ground and evaluate its significance for the project. Such a service remains valid today but there was a move to a more compartmentalised approach. In those days the highways departments of county authorities would design schemes based on their needs and the output from investigations but there was a move towards such design teams to be taken over by

consultants who would cover the design and interpretation themselves. Highways investigations, which had dominated the industry up to that time, reduced markedly and it took time for the needs of water authorities and environmental schemes to build up.

producers and analysts.

Recognition of this by the AGS led to a one day conference which I was pleased to convene and subsequently I chaired the group which established the AGS Format for data transfer and management. This pre-dated the move Internal collaboration had been intrinsic within towards BIM by the wider construction industry by some two decades. It was companies but the separation of roles of developed by the industry for the industry investigators, interpreters, evaluators, clients and illustrates what can be done with good and contractors meant that dialogue became will and the ethos of “what is good for the increasingly important. AGS provided a forum industry is good for its clients”. for such dialogue and a Trade It has now become a de-facto Association to encourage Without such international standard and development. innovation, projects has given rise to a British I joined the committee Standard. such as Crossrail, at its outset and served HS2 and other major Without such innovation, on it for many years. The infrastructure would projects such as Crossrail, need for fair contractual HS2 and other major arrangements between the not have been able to infrastructure would not various parties was clear and proceed... have been able to proceed at Stuart Littlejohn’s initiatives, in anything like the pace they stimulating publication of a set of have. All of this hard work to establish, develop four documents to emphasise the importance and maintain the format has been done with of investigation and set up the means of the good will of AGS members, together with implementation, was timely. AGS helped with other interested parties, and their intrinsic the contractual aspects of the documents and financial support. It was not externally funded. promoted their use through publications. In those heady days the AGS logo and diagonal Over this period of the life of the AGS green stripe style was developed by the the importance of geoenvironmental drafting departments of Cementation and understanding and investigation became Geotechnics, rather than by image consultants, apparent and led to the name change and this has been shown to be durable, all be it to the Association of Geotechnical and with one or two tweaks. Geoenvironmental Specialists whilst maintaining the AGS logo. Technology was developing all the time and the use of word processing software and Health and safety on sites has always been computers to report data and analyse them important but this has become increasingly so was increasing. Investigation specialists and the AGS has taken a lead on these issues. were using computers to produce reports in Risk assessments were always made on an a printed format but when such reports were informal basis but are now a formal part of presented to clients, the designers had to be every investigation. re-enter appropriate parameters into their proprietary software in order to translate The Association’s strength is its membership it into meaningful information since there with many complementary skills and services was incompatibility between the software of

September / October 2018


Evolution of the AGS Logo across the last 30 years

promoted with enthusiasm in a positive environment. Many members provide similar services to others, and may be competitors, but with the independence of the AGS from individual members they have been able to contribute much to the whole geotechnical and geoenvironmental community and those whom it serves. All serious practitioners within our industry and members of the AGS want to do a good job within an atmosphere of mutual respect. Such collaboration was key to the establishment of the AGS and remains important today. The ground is complex but this is the medium in which our industry works and thrives. It is essential that members emphasise the importance of knowledge of it and an ability to deal with it by acting as ambassadors to engineers in other disciplines, clients and



funders. Often, the ground is seen by them as a problem, but unfortunately the logical approach to tackling it through well-structured Site Investigation and responsive design is seen as a cost to be minimised, rather than as a long term investment. The ground is the legacy of geological processes and human activity. It is to be hoped that the legacy of those who preceded us in the AGS, current members and those who follow, will see its work as being equally important. With such an approach, the Association can and will prosper.

Article contributed by Len Threadgold Chairman Geotechnics Ltd





Health and Safety Courses

Delivered in partnership with RPA Safety Services

IOSH Safe Supervision of Geotechnical Sites (3 Days) - £495 + VAT Upcoming Dates: 10th - 12th October 2018, 14th - 16th November 2018

IOSH Avoiding Danger from Underground Services - £175 + VAT Upcoming Dates: 1st November 2018, 7th December 2018

IOSH Working Safely (on Geotechnical Sites) - £175 + VAT Upcoming Dates: 4th October 2018, 6th December 2018

Geotechnical Courses

Soil Description Workshop - £275 + VAT

Delivered by the UK's leading Soil and Rock Description expert - Professor David Norbury Upcoming Dates: 21st November 2018, 19th December 2018

Rock Description Workshop - £275 + VAT

Delivered by the UK's leading Soil and Rock Description expert - Professor David Norbury Upcoming Dates: 20th December 2018

Geotechnical Laboratory Testing Awareness - £250 + VAT Upcoming Dates: 3rd October 2018, 28th November 2018

Geotechnical Foundation Design - £250 + VAT

Upcoming Dates: 31st October 2018 @ Equipe Offices 5th December 2018 @ Brunel University

In Situ Testing - £250 + VAT

Upcoming Dates: 17th October 2018

September / October 2018


Sustainability in Ground Engineering: Good Design or Good Marketing?

Stephen Lawrence West of Ramboll, this year’s winner of the Sustainability Award at the GE Awards discusses sustainability in Ground Engineering.


he concept of sustainability has become a fundamental part of our lives as engineers and scientists in the construction industry. This is a very public way in which we as a profession can serve society by helping conserve a sustainable supply of resources.

Specialists how do we actually embed sustainability in our processes? Foundations need to be built from concrete or steel, earthworks need to be formed using earth materials, we need engineers and scientists to deliver projects, and the money must come from somewhere. So how can we deliver truly sustainable projects and recognise how we are contributing to sustainability?

Of course, the term sustainability can have a very ... it is a very rare At Ramboll we were broad definition; obviously project where honoured along with our there is the conservation of various project partners natural resources that go you can demonstrate and stakeholders with into the materials we use good sustainability the Ground Engineering to deliver projects, there is practice across all Sustainability Award two are also a drive to reduce these indicators of years in a row. Bermondsey dependence on fuel and sustainability. Dive-under railway scheme energy resources to process is a major urban railway and transport materials, and we interchange where the use of materials was need a sustainable source of human resources carefully controlled to ensure full value to the to deliver the projects through planning, client, local community, and railway users. This design, and construction. And don’t forget value was not just measured in financial terms, the desire to save one of society’s favourite the use of earthworks material quantities resources….money! All are important and their was optimised maximising re-use of site won supply needs to be used wisely or alternative materials from demolition debris, foundations resources identified and put to work. However, from the original railway structures were it is a very rare project where you can re-used where possible, and where not, an demonstrate good sustainability practice extensive programme of pile testing allowed across all these indicators of sustainability. significant reduction in total new pile metreage. So as Geotechnical and Geo-Environmental



Ramboll: Bermondsey Diveunder railway scheme

Careful management and re-use of materials and foundation design resulted in reductions in supply mileage to this congested site which limited impact on the local community. In turn this allowed for optimum use of site space allowing rail lines to remain functional thereby reducing delays. The philosophy of sustainability was built into project processes from the tender stage and were not mere ‘add-ons’. But as indicated in the title of this article the optimal use of materials and resources was considered good

design rather than a sustainable design. This year’s winner, the Walthamstow Wetlands, was a very different project and its success was measured by different sustainability indicators. In this case engineering skill was used to transform a valuable urban wetland resource from an underused tract of land into a location the local community can enjoy for the first time in decades. The geotechnical and hydrological elements of the project were delivered using the same consideration of high sustainability standards whilst not

September / October 2018


Ramboll: Walthamstow Wetlands

silt since the last dredging sacrificing good value for the This material operation, therefore this local community. This was was potentially presented an opportunity a project with a very limited resources in terms of material contaminated therefore to win material and aid the hydrological objectives and money. The materials to disposal of excess off of the projects. This be used for earthworks had site was not an option material was potentially to be won from site and the as that would increase contaminated therefore project was being financed costs. disposal of excess off site predominantly by the was not an option as that Heritage Lottery fund through would increase costs. A local government from a limited solution was developed where the material budget. The project team looked at how to recould be retained on site to form reed beds. use dredged materials to resolve engineering This solution complemented the hydrological problems and provide ecological assets as part requirements of the project and in turn formed of this project. a new ecological asset for this part of London. The reservoirs had become choked with




Natural England, RSPB, anglers associations and so on. This liaison was seen as a very positive aspect of the project and the results are an estimated 185,000 visitors in six months after the site was re-opened. In both cases, good design principles have been used to deliver a scheme which measures highly on sustainability indicators. These are just two examples of excellent practice, but they are by no means isolated. Often as experienced engineers and scientists we view efficiency in design as a matter of professional pride but we should also view our good work through the lens of sustainability as well. However, to truly deliver sustainable projects on a regular basis we must embed consideration of these indicators throughout our projects.

The other major ground engineering element of the project was the design of an earth retention scheme using dredged silt. After consideration of standard engineering solutions using sheet piles, gabions, or similar, a more sustainable solution was proposed to use geotextiles supported by timber king-posts. This solution was simpler than the original concept and could be delivered without need for substantial temporary works or installation plant. This reduced construction time and delivered a finish much more in keeping with the aspirations of the overall scheme. As this scheme was for the public good there was extensive liaison with the local community and key stakeholders representing bodies such as

When assessing design and construction practice sustainability should be an equal consideration in the measures used to compare solutions. This will helps drive good design and then has the added bonus of generating good content for your marketing team! This approach is being seen much more on major schemes such as HS2. In order to integrate sustainability in the design process for all project this topic is a fundamental part of the project excellence process in Ramboll, this is reflected in many other consultants and contractors. As we and many others have shown, a sustainable project often tends not to be an expensive project and actually yield community benefits beyond the provision of a new transport interchange or recreational resource. So a final thought, safety moments have become standard in meetings, what about a few sustainability moments? Article contributed by Stephen Lawrence West Director, Ground Engineering Ramboll

September / October 2018


Soil Engineering collecting AGS data on-site using KeyLogbook

A response to... AGS Digital Data

Why is it so Difficult to Get? An opinion piece, written by Matthew Baldwin, Technical Director of Soil Engineering Geoservices


of the group, we know of the frustration that n July’s edition of the AGS magazine, our operating companies and divisions have, Chris Raison posed the question: ‘AGS regarding this subject. We routinely hear of Digital Data – Why is it so difficult to get?’ multi-million pound piling schemes, trying to In an age where the transfer of data in digital be designed on the basis of a few photocopied format is the norm for most business sectors, pages of exploratory hole logs and lab test data! his question is very pertinent. The ground investigation industry is often perceived as How can this be? As Chris notes in his article, being antiquated and ‘behind the times’ in we are now in the 21st century and the easy its methods, and the issue of data flow is no transfer of digital data (via the AGS medium), different. Working as I do for a major ground has been with us for a quarter of a century. investigation contractor that has been There are several possible reasons for the supplying digital data in this format for many current state of affairs and these are listed years, I thought it appropriate below: to try and answer the We routinely hear question he posed • Procurement teams

“ of multi-million

unaware / uninterested in .Firstly I should state that I pound piling schemes, digital data have a lot of sympathy with trying to be designed Chris. My company Soil • Smaller GI projects don’t on the basis of a few Engineering Geoservices require digital data Ltd (SEGL), is part of a much photocopied pages of • Digital data produced for bigger group of companies exploratory hole logs only some aspects of GI (Soletanche Bachy) that deal and lab test data! exclusively with the ground • Full digital data produced (piles, diaphragm walls and secant and ‘gets stuck’ with clients professional pile walls to name but a few of the techniques team we offer). Interacting as we do with other parts



Figure 1: Extract from a tender that only requires a paper copy of the report Taking each of these in turn;

Procurement teams unaware It could be argued that the AGS has not done enough to promote the benefits of the AGS data transfer medium. Surely if everyone saw how easy the system was and what the end benefits were, no one would hesitate to use it? The problem is perhaps linked to AGS membership. After all the AGS exists to promote best practice in the geotechnical and geoenvironmental sectors, so why wouldn’t all companies operating in these sectors aspire to become members of the AGS? Membership entitles members to use of the AGS digital data dictionary.

bothers to put together a specification! A small to medium sized GI may only be perceived to need a pdf copy of the report. So the question then is what to do. If GI companies are not asked to provide a price for this service, then why should they provide it? People who say that producing AGS data is achieved via a ‘push of a button’ are sadly misguided! For a simple GI, compiling an error free digital data file can take less than an hour, but for more complex projects can take many hours. So there will naturally be a cost attached. Who should pay this cost if we automatically generated AGS data for every project?

And then what would the procurer do with the data given that they didn’t ask for it, don’t understand it and have no idea what to do with it? If GI companies are

We are however where we are with regards membership not asked to provide Digital data produced for and if we accept that for every member company a price for this service, only some aspects of GI there may be another nine then why should they For a straight forward GI non-members, then we are provide it? where all of the work is perhaps only reaching 10% of carried out by in-house the market place. If the procurer resourcing (rigs and is unaware of the AGS digital data format, then laboratory testing etc), the GI contractor should how can they be expected to specify it when have no difficulty compiling a digital data preparing GI procurement documents? submission. However where various aspects The extract in Figure 1 is typical of a GI tender of the GI are outsourced (subcontracted), the specification not requiring electronic data of subcontractor may not be able to supply data any form! in AGS format, or they can’t supply the data in the latest format. So what to do then? Smaller GI projects don’t require digital


SEGL is aware that many smaller and in particular non-public funded schemes do not stipulate a requirement for digital data in the specification. That is if the procurer even

Whilst SEGL always aims to only procure subcontractors who can supply their data in the requisite format, there is still great variability in the quality offerings of such companies and sometimes it is impossible

September / October 2018

 21

Figure 2: Extract from a specification that is quite clear as to what is required in terms of reporting to get all the data in the required format. This applies to both geotechnical and chemical testing laboratories, geophysical contractors as well as specialist in situ testing subcontractors.

ie the pile designers! The same applies to numerous retaining wall and contiguous pile wall schemes.

So what is happening to the data? The answer is that much of the data is being retained by the clients professional team (consultants, structural engineers and architects etc), who do not pass it on either to main We are aware of contractors or to smaller major GI contracts piling companies etc.

This latter point is very pertinent to the recent HS2 ground investigations. The client (HS2) quite rightly ...whose data has not We are aware of a recent requested the latest version found its way to the scheme for which we of the AGS data format. people who need it supplied digital data for However every major GI some fifty boreholes and contractor on the framework most... for which a piled solution agreement experienced severe was required. Much to our difficulties in obtaining the data in this format dismay we found that one of the companies in from subcontractors who were still working the group had spent hours re-entering all the with the previous version! exploratory hole data by hand into an Excel Full digital data supplied and gets spreadsheet because they had only been given ‘stuck’ with clients professional team photocopies of logs! This is complete madness, but sad to say is an all too common occurrence. SEGL supplies digital data for the majority of its contracts and certainly for all major contracts. What can be done? As a company we pioneered embedding the The most obvious thing that can and should be AGS digital data file within the report pdf and done, is to better showcase the advantages of some clients thought this a very good idea. AGS digital data to the whole industry. In my Figures 2 and 3 illustrate what should be good view I believe that Chris is incorrect when he practice for all GI’s: suggests that ‘many specialist GI contractors However, and this is a major however. Since and Consulting Engineers have a misplaced we work with other parts of our group, who view that AGS digital data is different to the are acting as subcontractors for say the GI report itself’. I believe that those who installation of piles, we see what data they know about the AGS digital data format, receive for their design. We are aware of major know exactly what it is and what it does. The GI contracts (for which we have supplied full problem is that not enough procurers of GI’s AGS data submissions), whose data has not either know about it or specify it. How many found its way to the people who need it most, investigations are procured by structural



Figure 3: Extract from the corresponding Bill of Quantities, allowing the contractor to price digital data engineers or architects etc who have no knowledge of the geotechnical industry, let alone knowledge of the AGS data digital format? This issue in itself accounts for many of the smaller GI’s that are procured each year.

I have attended and presented at numerous seminars and conferences over the last 25years on the subject of adequate / fit for purpose GI. Everyone who attends agrees on the value of GI and on good quality data that is available to all those involved in the project life cycle. And yet nothing changes!

The solution lies primarily in the hands of those procuring GI’s.

There are further and alarming issues with other major consultants who know exactly what AGS digital data is, but who then request the data in Excel format only, because their design systems are set up as Excel spreadsheets! From my point of view this is missing the point completely, since they could easily receive data in AGS format and then import it into Excel. This would also make the data available for any users downstream, ie main contractors and specialist foundation contractors. Chris also states that ‘it is time that the GI industry addressed this problem, added value to their reports and generally reduced the potential waste and experienced by users of their data’. Again in my opinion, Chris is addressing the wrong target audience here! All the larger quality GI contractors can and do provide AGS data when asked and without any problem. However, as we all know, those responsible for procuring GI’s invariably don’t select one of the larger quality GI contractors. Why? Well because they cost more! They will select ‘Cheap and Cheerful contracting’ and they will get exactly what they pay for, ie nothing of value. What a surprise!

The solution lies primarily in the hands of those procuring GI’s. Perhaps more effort needs to be directed toward the ICE, ACE, RICS etc and also RIBA? In addition, perhaps we need to move to a more ‘American model’, where insurers require appropriate GI’s to be undertaken and data to be made available, in order to secure project funding. If the UK ground investigation industry was to achieve this situation, the delivery of fit for purpose GI’s together with an attendant free flow of digital data might just become the norm! This article is the personal view of the author and is intended as a discussion piece to continue the debate as to how the UK GI industry can improve the delivery of digital data. Matthew Baldwin is the Technical Director at Soil Engineering and is a RoGEP advisor. Soil Engineering are an industry leading provider of ground investigation and ground stabilisation techniques.

September / October 2018


Keynetix’ AGS data editing tool KeyAGS

Futher feedback on... AGS Digital Data

Why is it so Difficult to Get? Further feedback from Callum Irving (TSP Projects) and Paul Chaplin (WSP)

geotechnical specialist data sets and software and The real power geological in a lot of of AGS comes in ground cases expert big data analysis and models to know-how data sharing across reduce, not to extract the increase information. the industry. poorly Companies are targeted still generating ground investigation. This AGS 3.1 or simply not then paves the way for following AGS4 format rules. evidence-based ground The specialist skill set and investigation and smarter geo software is not yet prevalent engineering. This is where I in the industry. While I am an believe we should focus our advocate of AGS, the reality is that PDF may still offer a more efforts. practical solution for many There is a notion that more depending on the end goal intrusive ground investigation and size of project. gives you greater certainty in design. I would argue that The real power of AGS robust ground/risk modelling comes in big data analysis and targeted investigation in and data sharing across the relation to the engineering is industry. With the goal to far more valuable.” produce localised geology/

Callum Irving Consultant Engineering Geologist (Design) TSP Projects “First of all, I would like to say how pleasing it is to see this topic discussed in such an intelligent and nuanced manner. I believe it is precisely what our industry requires at this moment. I would like to add to this discussion by offering a more pragmatic eye. The main challenge I find with AGS data is that it requires



Paul Chaplin Data Manager, (Ground Risk & Remediation) WSP “Having worked as a Geoenvironmental Data Manager for both consultants and contractors, I would say that Callum does have a point here. In my experience there isn’t a plethora of people within the industry that really know the ins and outs of the AGS format and one crucial thing that is often missed is that it is a data transfer format, not a data collection specification nor does it necessarily have to be the basis of the database structure. There is often an expectation from consultants who are reasonably au-fait with AGS data to request that the contractor deliver things that may not have not been explicitly asked of them at the outset. “Please provide in AGS 4.0” is often used as a catch-all statement. Some information captured may be really important to the contractor, but be of little interest to the consultant (and

vice-versa) and ultimately may depend on how far it is going to be analysed. Is it purely from a ground conditions / test results perspective? Or, as was the case with other major infrastructure projects, is the data also to be used as a project management tool to decide what the contractor could charge, and ultimately, be paid for? Geology Codes are a prime example of going beyond the contractor’s remit of providing factual information. As per the AGS guidance, if required, the consultant should provide a list of geology codes to the contractor who may have a first pass at allocating a code. If the consultant overrules, then changes can be made during a clearly defined, agreed and staged log review process. (Prelim, Draft, Final etc). If this was not part of the specification and several weeks into the job the consultant decides that this is now a requirement, should contractor have to acquiesce? Does the catch-all statement cover that without there being a time/cost implication for the contractor? There are many things still hanging over from earlier versions of the AGS format, which were not as fully formed as the current version. If there wasn’t a corresponding field for

something that was required/ collected it would regularly be placed in different field that did exist and the logs modified to utilise that field. AGS 4.0 arrived and was far stricter about what it would accept. Unfortunately, this is still not enough to stop PID results arriving in the Stratum Details table, or monitoring points such as standpipes not including any corresponding pipe construction information. This is where the “knowhow” comes in. This can be supplemented with Data Management Plans, additional data related specification documents that are clear to all, along with a single point of contact between both contractor and consultant to iron out the inevitable wrinkles. I would argue that good quality AGS Data is actually a by-product of effective data management throughout the Ground Investigation, not an end goal in itself, and it should be delivered alongside any Ground Investigation Report (possibly even at regular intervals during the GI). To achieve it is no small undertaking though, especially on large infrastructure projects and perhaps the upfront preparation, additional time and resources that have to be dedicated to it are not fully appreciated or understood.”

September / October 2018


Problems with getting paid


sets out several principles for construction contracts; the right to staged payments, determining when payments are due; the requirement to state the amount due and how it was determined; the need to serve notice of intention to withhold payment; the right to suspend work in the The introduction of the The Act also case of non-payment. The Housing Grants, Construction Act also makes provision makes provision and Regeneration Act in for disputes to be taken for disputes to be taken 1996 (often referred to as to adjudication. This has to adjudication. This ‘The Construction Act’) recently proved to be a sought to address some of has recently proved to means of rapidly resolving these issues and encourage be a means of rapidly disputed debts especially prompt payment – especially where the withholding resolving disputed for smaller and medium party has failed to abide by debts... sized enterprises. For more the contract conditions in details see LPA 66 - Overview relation to payment and the and Review of the Construction Act Payment requirements of the Construction Act. Provisions. Specifically Part 2 of the Act ash is the lifeblood of any business and without it employees, suppliers and even the tax man cannot be paid. Delayed payments have long been an issue in the construction industry and businesses have failed in the past for this very reason.



Nevertheless many debts are not paid in a timely manner and there are a number of actions AGS members can take to minimise delays to payment.

debtor effectively gives up his right to pursue the debt through legal means as clearly there is not a contract between the parties.

In such situations the logical course of action would be to pursue the debt with the body with Actions AGS Members should take whom the debtor is contracted. to minimise delays to The most critical Whilst re-addressing the payments factor is making invoice may seem to be Know who the client is expedient, it should be absolutely sure who borne in mind that, as well The most critical factor is the client is and as the legal issues with making absolutely sure who therefore has trying to pursue a debt this who the client is and who responsibility for way, the protective clauses therefore has responsibility payment. in the contract may not be for payment. It is not enforceable with this new uncommon for initial enquiries to come from what turns out to be a third party entity

with the result that the quotation is sent to Financial stability of the client them and provided a suitable set of terms and AGS members should also be wary of conditions is attached to the offer letter, then contracting with clients with a weak balance arguably a contract exists. However when sheet who may have an impaired ability to the work is completed the supposed client pay (also see AGS publication ‘Risk Issues then requests that the invoice is addressed for Independent Geo-professionals’, Section to another company who will then pay the 4 Contractual and Financial invoice. This then leaves the Issues). Information on UK debtor with a dilemma as AGS members registered companies can to whether to pursue the should also be wary be found on the Companies party he agreed the contract of contracting with House website. This will with, or readdress his invoice clients with a weak usually include a copy to another party who is apparently willing to settle balance sheet who may of the client’s published the debt. have an impaired ability accounts, as well as details of the company structure to pay... A similar dilemma may exist and names of the directors. where a contract has been However please be aware set up with a client who then, at the point of that accounts may only be published up to invoicing, requests that the invoice be re9 months after the end of the company’s addressed to another entity within the client financial year, so the accounts may relate organisation. The same problem may also arise to a trading period that ended up to 1 year when the client provides a purchase order and 9 months ago. Even when dealing with which on closer inspection has not been issued large organisations it is worth checking the by the original client entity. accounts of the specific entity which the holding/parent company may or may not In all these scenarios the debtor runs the risk have chosen to capitalise. The dangers of of trying to recover a debt from an entity with contracting with a financially robust company, whom he has no contract. By doing so the only then to pursue a debt with a company

September / October 2018



Whilst it may be contractually that is not so, are obvious. Where clients superfluous, the absence Where there are doubts over impose extended of a purchase order may the ability of the client to pay payment terms then simply mean that payment then it may be appropriate will not be processed until to request an advance the consideration such a purchase order is payment for part or all of the should be given to issued. It is recommended fee. Where clients impose including finance therefore that AGS members extended payment terms costs... communicate with the then the consideration should client’s finance team at an be given to including finance early stage to check whether a PO is required costs in the fee based on a suitable weighted in order avoid delays and problems later. Also average cost of capital (WACC). remember that purchase orders may have a Problems with purchase orders monetary cap and where there are variations to the scope of work then this can result in Another pitfall in debt recovery is the lack of the cap being exceeded at some point. Again a purchase order. Many companies’ accounts AGS members can avoid payment delays by payable systems are increasingly automated checking that the cumulative invoiced amount and a lack of relevant information on the is within the capped amount on the PO. invoice can result in invoices being rejected. Even when the correct client entity has been identified and a binding contract agreed between the two parties, payment can be delayed due to the lack of a purchase order.



On the other hand clients may inadvertently issue a PO to the incorrect contracting entity. This can easily happen when companies

merge, are taken over or rename/restructure. This can result in clients accounting systems having an incorrect VAT number and incorrect bank details leading to further delays in payment.

Summary In summary the Construction Act provides protection against unjustified withholding of payment and allows debtors to recover debts through adjudication if necessary. However a number of actions can be taken to minimise payment delays: 1. Check that the contracting entity is correct and is the body who will make payment. 2. Check the financial strength of the contracting entity. 3. Where possible check the payment history of the client and consider requesting advance payment and, where there are extended payment terms, consider

including finance costs in the price. 4. Check whether a purchase order is required in order to facilitate payment. 5. Check that the PO has been issued to the correct entity. 6. Check that the PO value has not been exhausted from previous invoices. 7. Resist requests by clients to re-address invoices to another company.

References 1. AGS (2011). Risk Issues for Independent Geoprofessionals. May 2011. 2. AGS (2018). LPA 66 - Overview and Review of the Construction Act Payment Provisions – February 2018.

Article contributed by Peter Boyd, Operations Director, Ground Engineering, AECOM

September / October 2018


Ground-breaking TPH Analysis of Liquids and Solids


ntil recently the only way to measure and identify Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPHs) in soil, water and other environmental matrixes has been to use Gas Chromatography (GC), to separate out and quantify the hundreds of individual hydrocarbon compounds and then try to identify the TPH product type from the resulting chromatogram. GC requires skilled operators and a fully equipped laboratory but chromatograms from different laboratories or between different GCs cannot easily be compared, which reduces reproducibility and confidence. Onsite methods have been used to measure TPH, but these are typically semi quantitative and cannot identify individual TPHs. With the development of UVFF (UV-Fluorescence Fingerprinting), reliable and accurate TPH identification and quantitative data is now possible while still retaining the significant benefits of rapid results, ease of use and flexibility of on-site analysis. This method is now accepted by environmental regulators worldwide, including the Environment Agency.

individual hydrocarbon types, selected from a library of 20 reference materials including petrol, diesel, jet fuels, lubricating oils, coal tars and creosote. It does this automatically Under UV light, each TPH type fluoresces with and consistently in just a few seconds. a unique and consistent This method is sufficiently spectral fingerprint, even With the powerful to allow coal tar when the TPH type is mixed into bitumen to be development substantially degraded. The identified, and an estimate of UVFF (UVinstrument’s solid-state of the percentage of coal Fluorescence detector (similar to that used tar provided, useful when by NASA on the Mars Lander) Fingerprinting), analysing road planings measures this fluorescence reliable and accurate and cores. It then calculates across multiple wavelengths. the concentration of each TPH identification and UVFF is unique in that it quantitative data is now of the TPH types identified resolves the raw sample using the corresponding possible... data into as many as three matched library calibration




curve. It also calculates the concentrations of BTEX, 16 PAHs, and Benzo(a)pyrene. The result is a table of values for TPH, BTEX, GRO, DRO, C5 - C10, C10 - C18, >C18, 16 EPA PAHs, BaP, total aromatics and, for some samples, phenolics. With a low part per billion sensitivity, most samples actually require dilution before analysis. This removes potential interference, but also allows measurement of concentrated or pure materials. Even when diluting the sample, the simplified sample preparation allows a sample throughput of 3 minutes per sample or 15 samples per hour, even for an unskilled operator. From a practical point of view, this technology requires minimal operating skills and consumables, is robust and compact, running

on just 5-12V DC. Operation is therefore possible from the back of a vehicle or on a remote site by using a small battery. It can also be used to complement laboratory GCbased methods by indicating if background natural organics are present, by identifying unexpected hydrocarbons such as coal tar and providing an initial TPH concentration. The GC can then be calibrated to the correct material and the sample suitably diluted. This removes the problems of carry over and calibration errors, minimising re-runs and damage to GC columns, significantly reducing costs. Article contributed by Peter Fleming & Colin Green Analyser Specialist & Managing Director QROS Ltd

September / October 2018


Q & A with...

Matthew Baldwin BSc, MSc, C.Geol, FGS, RoGEP Advisor

Job Title: Technical Director Company: Soil Engineering Brief Biography: With over 36 years working in the engineering geology sector I have become experienced at what works with regard to investigating the ground. For the last fifteen years however I have spent much of my time helping to educate others via university MSc course lecturing, in house and external training and conference presentations. My main interests lie in helping academia understand what industry wants within degree courses, as well as in getting published and publicised the new generation of ‘Eurocode’ documents. I would like good ground investigation to be recognised as the cost saving and risk reducing tool that it really is!



What or who inspired you to join the geotechnical industry?

weeks are quite crowded. Chance! I had always wanted to work in mineral prospecting I suppose it is often the ‘unknowns’ that provide most and had a job lined up in excitement and challenge Namibia in 1981. At the last though. These minute range from however, I I suppose calls for found out that it is often the technical the previous ‘unknowns’ that advice both two mine provide most from within geologists had excitement and my company, disappeared and so I challenge though. but also from across the turned the job wider Bachy down! Instead I took an MSc in Engineering Geology Soletanche group, to looking at appropriate sampling regimes at Durham University and the for challenging geology, to rest is, as they say, is history! requests for mentoring and What does a typical day training of employees.


I don’t have typical days, and that is what keeps me ‘fresh’ and interested in the industry. Due to the number of international and national committees I sit on (including technical, standards and trade bodies), my calendar is planned several months in advance. When I add in the in house training courses I run, presentations to clients and attendance at various seminars and conferences, my

Are there any projects which you’re particularly proud to have been a part of? Sadly those projects that retain a special place in my memory tend to be those from the distant past. This is partly because ground investigation in the 1980’s and early 1990’s was less adversarial than it is now, and also because there appeared to be more genuine interest in both the industry and the subject matter, ie the

Soil Engineering overwater investigations on Loch Lomond

In addition I For many of would have The NIREX these major GI’s to cite the (low level investigations we were having to nuclear produce site specific in the Irish repository) Republic for logging and sampling the motorways investigations were in schemes to deal with that we now my view the encountered take for unparalleled, granted. For geology... insofar as many of these they offered major GI’s we engineering geologists the were having to produce site chance to see a vast array specific logging and sampling of intrusive GI techniques as schemes to deal with the well as the full array of in situ encountered geology, and testing and sampling. So many again the supervisory teams GI’s over the past 20 years learnt so much of value. have done the bare minimum and there now exists a whole What are the most generation of engineering challenging aspects of geologists who aren’t aware your role? of the techniques that we Trying to help educate an can and should be using to industry where there is a lot understand the ground. of ignorance about ground ground!

investigation! There are various reasons why the procurers and to some extent the clients professional team on site (civil engineers, structural engineers and architects etc), don’t appear to have the knowledge / experience that would enable them to ensure ground investigations were designed and executed correctly. I could fill several pages on this subject! All too often we see incorrect drilling / sampling techniques being proposed, inappropriate in situ testing, or no in situ tests, and then to cap it off the clueless scheduling of laboratory testing. Although I have spent the last couple of decades banging the drum in relation to the importance of GI procurers  September / October 2018


Training employees to log the Chalk with help from Rory Mortimore

knowing ‘their stuff’, this would seem to have largely fallen on deaf ears.


As immediate past chairman of the AGS I am involved with the senate and the executive, both of which are the decision and ratification parts of the association.

The other big challenge I have as part of the international committee involved with the updating of Eurocode 7, is getting practitioners to see the benefits of using the standard and the various supporting documents, numerous as they are!



What AGS Working Groups are you a Member of and what are your current focuses?

As immediate past chairman of the AGS I am involved with the senate and the executive, both of which are the decision and ratification parts of the association. I am however part of the business practice working group and firmly believe that this committee

has done much good work over the past few years. Both mine and the BPWG immediate focus is on making the AGS relevant and accessible to the younger end of the industry. It is vital that we get both graduates and undergraduates sharing their experiences and learning via contact with the AGS and the vast talent and experience pool that resides within it.

What do you enjoy most about being an AGS Member? The AGS members share the same common goal of wanting the industry to provide a

Working in Berlin with European colleagues on the next version of Eurocode 7

quality service via member companies that also take health and safety in the work place seriously. Because the members of the various AGS working groups all share these aims, every time we meet, I know that we are all looking at how to advance the industry in a controlled and professional manner.

What do you find beneficial about being an AGS Member? Personally I know that I can contact other AGS members for advice / commentary on new industry initiatives and that I will get a reasoned response. From a company perspective, AGS membership is a ‘quality mark’ and helps Soil Engineering along with other member companies differentiate themselves from others in the market place.

Why do you feel the AGS is important to the industry? The AGS is the only trade body that represents contractors,

the industry is consultants This is largely in my view no and suppliers thanks to the better than it and then was 40 years speaks with plethora of small ago. This is one voice GI companies that largely thanks for all their do not provide the to the plethora interests. same level of quality of small GI Because of the or health and safety companies ‘knowledge that do not pool’ that the standards as the AGS enjoys via larger companies. provide the same level its membership, of quality or the association is health and safety standards able to speak with authority as the larger companies. on a wide range of technical And yet through a lack of issues. It has working groups understanding that cheaper to whom both other parts isn’t better, the procurers of of industry and indeed the government via the HSE listen GI’s are happy to employ them because they are cheap! to.

What changes would you like to see implemented in the geotechnical industry? Ever since I started working in the industry some 36 years ago, we have collectively complained about the overall state of ground investigations. Despite numerous initiatives aimed at improving standards,

We need to move to a situation akin to the American system where building projects require ‘fit for purpose’ GI’s, or they won’t be insured. I have tried via a joint venture with the FPS to engage with UK insurers, but without luck so far. I genuinely believe however that either this or government legislation (unlikely) is what we need.

September / October 2018


AGS Guide to...

The Description of Anthropogenic “Soils”


ccurate and consistent description of Made Ground or anthropogenic soils/materials is of importance as it may provide vital indication of the material’s likely geotechnical behaviour, the potential for contamination and/or the potential for ground gas generation. However, BS 5930:2015 and BS EN ISO 14688-1 provide only limited guidance on the description of anthropogenic “soils”, and this has led to an inconsistent approach within the contaminated land industry.

BS 5930:2015 process. However, it has been extended to cover: •

organic materials (Class 3), such as landfill deposits and the largely organic debris that may be encountered within a backfilled canal or dock,

fine grained chemical deposits (Class 4), such as chemical precipitates, filter cake wastes, chemical salts, sludges, powders and materials such as foul lime and Galligu, and

The AGS Contaminated Land Working Group have therefore produced a Guidance Note, • Other identifiable material, such as textiles, in which a standard framework for the geoplastic sheeting, railway sleepers, environmental description glass and sawdust etc. that The Guidance of anthropogenic “soils” is may form the principal set out. This framework is stresses the component of the ‘soil’ in summarised in a flow chart, some instances. need for detailing which has been produced the proportions of The Guidance stresses to allow it to be laminated inclusions within the need for detailing the and taken to site to act as proportions of inclusions Made Ground, be it an aide memoire for those within Made Ground, be who encounter and have to through standardised it through standardised describe these “soils”. descriptors... descriptors (rare, occasional, For anthropogenic material numerous, abundant) or principally comprising granular or cohesive by listing the approximate percentage of the soils (Class 1 and 2) the framework follows the inclusions by volume (e.g. “grey clayey sand



of ash with textile fragments (20%), polythene (10%) and paper (10%)”).

the ‘Practical Framework for the Logging of Anthropogenic Soils’ which is being produced by The Environmental Protection Group Ltd, and which provides extremely useful guidance on the description of landfilled material and other anthropogenic materials with the potential to generate ground gas.

The Guidance Note is designed to complement the ‘Practical Framework for the Logging of Anthropogenic Soils’...

Also provided in the Guidance are standard descriptors for the commonly encountered combustion products ash, clinker, charcoal and slag, as it appears these are often misidentified. Commentary is provided on the importance of accurate colour description as an indicator of chemical conditions and the potential presence of contaminants. It is also suggested that the following groups of odours be adopted in preference to those suggested in BS 5930 (which includes some which are unlikely to be present in Made Ground, such as “floral” or “peppermint”): • H2S (rotten egg), • rotten cabbage (Mercaptan), • naphthalene (mothballs), • solvent (acetone - nail varnish, xylenethinners), • chlorinated solvent (‘Tippex’ thinners in the past) • acetic (vinegar), • fuel (petrol, diesel, paraffin), • mineral oil (engine oil, lubricating oil), • creosote/coal tar, • putrid (decaying waste) Guidance on describing the strength of the odour (from AS 4482.1-2005) is also provided as follows; • Weak (just detectable at source, location difficult to determine), • Distinct (detectable immediately adjacent to source, bearable at source), • Strong (detectable 20m from source, bearable at source), • Very strong (detectable >20m from source, pungent at source). The Guidance Note is designed to complement

It is hoped that the adoption of a more standardised approach to the description of anthropogenic materials will improve the quality of ground investigations in these materials and will allow the vital data contained in exploratory hole logs produced by one company to be accurately interpreted by another consultant at a later date with regard to the contaminant and gas generation potential, and the likely geotechnical properties of the soil.

References 1. British Standards Institution (2015): Code of practice for ground investigations. BS 5930:2015. 2. British Standards Institution (2018): Geotechnical investigation and testing – Identification and classification of soil – Part 1 Identification and description. BS BS EN ISO 14688-1:2018 3. Australian Standards (2005): AS 4482.1-2005 Guide to the Investigation and Sampling of Sites with Potentially Contaminated Soil - Non-volatile and Semi-Volatile Compounds – Tasmania. 4. The Environmental Protection Group Ltd: Practical Framework for the Logging of Anthropogenic Soils. Although every effort has been made to check the accuracy of the information and validity of the guidance given in this document, neither the members of the Safety Working Group, nor the AGS accept any responsibility for mis-statements contained herein or misunderstanding arising herefrom.

Article contributed by Mike Plimmer Technical Director Geotechnical & Environmental Associates

September / October 2018


Upcoming Events Ground Engineering’s New Transport Geotechnics Conference The AGS has secured a special discount for member on delegate passes for Ground Engineering’s new Transport Geotechnics conference this autumn. Design, construction and maintenance of geotechnical assets on transport infrastructure will be placed under the spotlight at GE’s new conference, which will be held on 3 October at the Victoria Park Plaza hotel in London. The event will be co-located with GE’s established Basement and Underground Structures conference with a shared exhibition and networking area. The latest speakers to be confirmed for the Transport Geotechnics event will ensure discussions cover client, consultant and contractor perspective on the current issues affecting geotechnical assets. The keynote speech will be delivered by Jacobs technical director for ground engineering Christina Jackson and she will look at the challenges and opportunities for the industry. Case study presentations will give detailed insight into the construction of the Bexhill North Access Road, Cambrian rock cutting, A9 dualling project and the A19 Coast Road. Best practice will also be considered with presentations from Aecom executive director John Endicott on geotechnical baseline reports and Fugro global director Rob Eddies on the value added by undertaking early ground investigation. Proactive monitoring and the use of data in asset management will be discussed. The event will conclude with a panel debate on rising to the challenge of delivering future projects on time, on cost and with technical excellence. Keynote speaker Jackson will be joined by British Drilling Association chairman Martyn Brocklesby, Mott MacDonald major projects portfolio director Chris Dulake and Kier managing director for infrastructure Sean Jeffery. For full details and for booking information, go to www.transport.geplus.co.uk and use the code AGS20 to get 20% off the current delegate price. The discount is only available on new bookings.

Geo-Intelligence for Coastal Infrastructure Seminar Fugro are holding a one-day seminar on 15th November 2018, which will be focused on dynamic site characterisation, innovation and how an integrated approach can reduce project risk. The event is free of charge to professionals working in the industry. The seminar will be held at Fugro House in Wallingford. Register online: at www.fugro.com/coastal18 By email: contact Amy Bennett, a.bennett@fugro.com providing: name, company, job title, address, postcode, email and telephone number. 38


SiLC Exam Dates Announced for 2019 Registered SiLCs benefit from being part of an industry leading scheme as well as gaining a recognised registration that indicates a high level of standards and experience. In order to become both a SiLC and an SQP, the SiLC Register offers a process of application, subject to suitable chartership or membership of Professional Institutions, open-book exam and interview. Passing this process will qualify the individual as both a SiLC and an SQP. However, applicants have the option of appearing on the register as just a SiLC, just an SQP or both. The 2019 SiLC exam dates are as follows: Exam Round 1 2019 (A) • Deadline for Applications: Monday 18th February 2019 • Written test: Monday 4th March 2019 – Monday 1st April 2019 • Marking: Monday 8th April 2019 – Monday 29th April 2019 • Interviews: Monday 13th May 2019 – Tuesday 28th May 2019 • Results available from the w/c: Monday 17th June 2019 Exam Round 2 2019 (B) • Deadline for Applications: Monday 2nd September 2019 • Written test: Monday 16th September 2019 – Monday 14th October 2019 • Marking: Monday 21st October 2019 – Monday 11th November 2019 • Interviews: Monday 25th November 2019 – Monday 9th December 2019 • Results available from the w/c: Monday 13th January 2020 Further information can be found on the SiLC website: https://www.silc.org.uk/application/

Solutions for the Future of the Geotechnical Industry The British Drilling Association (BDA) has announced the first of its next series of industry seminars “Solutions for the Future of the Geotechnical Industry”, which will be held 9thOctober 2018 at the Thistle Barbican Hotel, London.With a constantly evolving geotechnical industry, new technologies are emerging all the time. Their impact is shaping the way we work and interact with clients and with the environment itself. Add legislation and working practices into the mix and the stage is set for a potentially challenging future. However, for those drillers that embrace and seek to understand change, the future is full of opportunity and that means profit! The seminar will present the influencers and technologies that are defining the future of the geotechnical sector. Speakers will include: Tim Chapman - Leader of the Infrastructure Design Group at Arup; David Nevey of MGS; Andy Jacques of Epiroc; David Norbury of David Norbury Ltd; Katie Aguiler of Bentley Software Systems Steve Reynolds of HS2, speakers will be talking on a wide variety of topics, from legislation through to the software and drilling equipment that is and will continue to shape the way we work in the very near future. Registration is 12.30pm with speakers from 1.00pm – 5.30pm, with 30 min coffee & networking break, followed at 5:30 by canapés, drinks & further networking opportunities. To book online please visit our website http://www.britishdrillingassociation.co.uk/Events or contact the BDA Office - office@britishdrilligassociation.co.uk or call 01773 778751. September / October 2018


Training Courses New Non Licensed Work Training for Groundworkers CL:AIRE has now extended its asbestos in soils training suite to include Non Licensed Work for Groundworkers. This course has been specifically designed for craft, semi-skilled and unskilled groundworkers working in areas such as earthworks, demolition, civil engineering, site investigation and remediation and whose work is liable to disturb asbestos and/or asbestos containing materials on or in the ground. Prior to attending, all delegates must be able to demonstrate that they have attended and passed an Asbestos Awareness training course. Further details on requirements is available on booking forms. Prices from £221.25 + VAT Three dates currently available: 16th October 2018, 22nd November 2018 & 11th December 2018 All delegates booking NLW training need to have been on an Asbestos Awareness training course within the last 12 months in line with CAR 2012 regulations. If you have not done this requisite training, you may wish to undertake the CL:AIRE Asbestos Awareness for soils elearning training course. Delegate numbers are limited to 12 and include an examination in line with industry guidance. To book a place, please visit. In house training also available, visit CL:AIRE’s Help desk https://www.claire.co.uk/help-desk and specify your requirements.

Revised Training: Specialist Geotechnical Heath and Safety Courses Equipe Training and their health and safety training partners RPA Safety Services are delighted to announce their collection of specialist IOSH health and safety courses for the geotechnical market have been revised and renewed for 2018. These courses are approved and certified by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and meet the requirements of UK Health and Safety regulations for working on geotechnical and land drilling sites. Upcoming courses include: • 10th - 12th October 2018 - IOSH Safe Supervision of Geotechnical Sites • 6th December 2018 - IOSH Working Safely (on Geotechnical Sites) • 1st November 2018 - IOSH Avoiding Danger from Underground Services Places on these courses can be booked online here, or via contacting Equipe on +44 (0)1295 670990 or info@equipegroup.com 40


How to become a Member of the AGS

AGS Members all share a commitment to quality in the geotechnical and geoenvironmental industry. This has become widely recognised by clients, governmental bodies and other associations that touch issues to do with the ground. We welcome both companies and individuals who want to be recognised for their quality of practice to join our growing membership of over 130 Members. We shape our industry, continually improve practice and collaborate on issues that affect us all; from clients, all the way through to the people who use the land and the buildings we help develop. To become a Member of the AGS, please visit http://www.ags.org.uk/about/become-a-member and submit your application online. Please note that all membership applications are reviewed by the Membership Committee 6 weeks in advance of each quarterly Senate meeting. The deadline for the next round of completed applications is 9th October 2018.

AGS Chemical and Legal Helplines All Members of the Association of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists are entitled to free chemical and contractual advice through the use of Loss Prevention Committee Members, Marquis & Lord and BLM Solicitors. For advice on chemical safety and best practice, Marquis & Lord will provide 30 minutes of free advice to all AGS Members. Additionally, if you’re an AGS Member and are looking for legal advice, please speak to Michael Salau, Guy Lane or Zita Mansi at BLM Solicitors where the first 15 minutes of legal advice will be free of charge. CHEMICAL SAFETY HELPLINE


Marquis & Lord Tel: 0800 083 4610 www.marquisandlord.com

BLM Solicitors Telephone: 020 7638 2811 www.blmlaw.com

Disclaimer The articles included in this magazine are the opinions of the authors and are not intended to be a complete or comprehensive statement of the law, nor do they constitute legal or specialist advice. They are intended only to highlight current issues from date of publication that may be of interest. Neither the writer, nor the AGS, assumes any responsibility for any loss that may arise from accessing, or reliance on the material and all liability is disclaimed accordingly. Professional advice should be taken before applying the content of the articles to particular circumstances.

September / October 2018


Advertising and Rates An online advertising campaign within the AGS Magazine will help to build and increase industry awareness of your company’s profile, initiatives and offerings. The AGS can help build a package to suit your needs and budget; whether it’s a series of adverts across multiple issues, a combination of event sponsorship and advertising, or a single advertorial. How to Advertise in the AGS Magazine The AGS Magazine is a free email publication which looks at a range of topical issues, insights and concerns, whilst publishing new guidance notes, working group activities and information on upcoming industry seminars. With 6 issues each year, our subscribers include industry professionals such as practitioners, chartered specialists, senior decision makers and managing directors. To receive a media pack or to discuss advertising rates, please contact Caroline Kratz on 0208 658 8212 or email ags@ags.org.uk

Adversiting Requirements

Advert Sizes and Rates

All adverts should be sent in a PDF, PNG, JPEG, TIFF, PSD (Photoshop) or EPS (Illustrator) format.

 FULL PAGE W: 210mm H: 297mm RATE: £400  HALF PAGE W: 210mm H: 145mm RATE: £250  QUARTER PAGE

company name address contact number email

W: 105mm H: 145mm RATE: £160


 DIRECTORY Company name, address, contact number, email and one logo.

RATE: £50


All advertising artwork must be supplied in 114 dpi resolution.


Artwork must be delivered to the AGS using the agreed artwork specification size listed left. Artwork should be emailed to ags@ags.org. uk no later than 10 days prior to publication.

Directory i2 Analytical Ltd 7 Woodshots Meadow, Croxley Park, Watford, Herts, WD18 8YS  +44 (0)1923 225 404  reception@i2analytical.com


AGS Dates for Your Diary

Upcoming AGS Events AGS Annual Conference National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham Wednesday 3rd April 2019 For more information, contact ags@ags.org.uk

September / October 2018


Profile for AGS Magazine

AGS Magazine - September/October 2018  

AGS Magazine is a FREE magazine from the Association of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists. The magazine focuses on geotechnics,...

AGS Magazine - September/October 2018  

AGS Magazine is a FREE magazine from the Association of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists. The magazine focuses on geotechnics,...