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GE Awards 2017: The Shortlist in Full

GE takes a look at the stories behind some of the entries shortlisted for July’s Ground Engineering Awards.

The 2017 Ground Engineering Awards is set to be the largest celebration of geotechnical excellence and innovation yet, with new categories, new judges and a new evening ceremony to announce the winners.

Just getting onto the shortlist this year was an achievement. A record number of entries demonstrated the wide range of challenges overcome by the sector in the past 12 months.

With several months to go until the winners are announced, GE has taken a closer look at the shortlists.

In this issue is a round-up of the nine sponsored categories: the Award for Technical Excellence, sponsored by Mainmark Ground Engineering; the new Award for Technical Innovation, sponsored by Fugro Geoservices; Consulting Firm of the Year, sponsored by Bauer Technologies; Contractor of the Year, sponsored by Atkins; International Project of the Year, sponsored by Bam Ritchies; the Rising Star Award, sponsored by Bachy Soletanche; the Sustainability Award, sponsored by Tarmac; UK Project with a Geotechnical Value of between £1M and £3M, sponsored by Keltbray Piling; and UK Project with a Geotechnical Value of over £3M, sponsored by Dywidag Systems International.

Each finalists’ submission is testament to the passion and dedication they have for their work and the industry as a whole.

All of the shortlist will gather at GE’s office in London in late May and early June to present their entries in detail during the face to face judging phase. Our judging team, drawn from industry clients, leading academics and industry specialists, has been expanded to more than 50 to ensure the integrity of the process.

Winners will be announced at an exclusive ceremony in the evening of 5 July at the Hilton Hotel on London’s Park Lane.



Award for Technical Excellence

This award recognises a specific hi-tech advancement or concept that has helped a company improve its performance or delivery of a challenging element of a project. Entrants had to demonstrate technical excellence through development of a new approach to analysis, advanced techniques and procedures or working with its customers to improve delivery of a specific part of a project through technical refinement.

Smart photo based condition monitoring

Conventional inspections often require road or rail closures, but Arup has collaborated with academia and industry to develop techniques that use advances in digital cameras and software to aid survey work.

The technique involves capturing high quality images of an entire structure to create a CAD or immersive model that allows future images to be compared using computer based methods to identify changes. According to Arup, the system saves time and money.

The 4G Ground Engineering Model for Offshore Abu Dhabi

Arup and the British Geological Survey developed a 3D geospatial database to collate geotechnical data gathered during the 60 years of oil and gas extraction in Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company commissioned the work to enable geotechnical risk to be factored into future planning decisions.

The database brings together geological, geohazard, geotechnical data and geotechnical design – the 4Gs – information covering an area of 22,500km2 and included thousands of borehole records, CPTs, geophysical data and results from over 30,000 geotechnical laboratory tests.

A465 Heads of the Valleys Section 2 RW04a/b

Original designs for new on and off slip roads at Brynmawr on the A465 called for major rock blasting with mesh to prevent future rock falls but Atkins helped to develop a solution that was cheaper, simpler and safer.

Atkins use LSS modelling software to design a pre-splitting approach for the rock blasting that reduced the risk of over digging. Use of the software also allowed identification of blocks at risk from toppling following the blasting so rock fall prevention measures could be applied to just specific areas rather than the whole rock face.

FCC Construcción
Bolaños Tunnel

Worse than expected ground conditions and major faulting were encountered by FCC Construcción during construction of the 6.7km Bolaños Tunnel for a new high speed rail line in Spain. This meant that the use of a rock tunnel boring machine (TBM) had to be adapted to cope and FCC developed a solution using a dual-component injection system and mixed drilling approach that combined drill and blast techniques for excavation of the upper part of the tunnel bore and the TBM for the lower part.

Ferrovial Laing O’Rourke Joint Venture
Northern Line Extension

Construction of the Northern Line Extension called for the Ferrovial Laing O’Rourke joint venture to construct two underground junctions – known as step plate junctions – around existing tunnels. However, conventional hand excavated methods were considered high risk and would have created a larger junction than necessary so the joint venture developed an alternative approach.

The design reduced the length of the step plate junction from 100m to 61m, which minimised the risk of subsidence, and maximised the use of mechanised excavation and sprayed concrete linings in place of conventional hand digging and timber supports.

Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions
Irish rail cuttings and embankment asset management tool

Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions worked with Irish Rail to develop the Irish Rail Cutting and Embankment Decision Support Tool to aid geotechnical assessment of the 4,900 earthworks assets on the 2,800km network.

The tool provides a scientific, non-subjective means of quantifying the risk for every asset, based on the probability of failure while incorporating all of the lessons learned and internal knowledge of an asset’s history. The two year project included updating the nationwide asset database, devising specific hazard and vulnerability assessment procedures and producing customised software.

Using pile installation logs to complement ground investigation information

Hydrock has developed a system to supplement ground investigation information using data collected from modern auger piling rigs to provide greater detail for its ground models.

The company pioneered the approach while working in Bristol where superficial deposits are encountered to variable depths, overlaying interbedded dipping bedrock geology. The city location means that access for ground investigation is limited but addition of piling data from adjacent sites has allowed the company to propose less conservative geotechnical designs to save time and money for its clients.

OGI Groundwater Specialists
Seaforth Passage widening, Port of Liverpool

Widening the Seaforth Passage from 40m to 60m will enable larger vessels to use the Port of Liverpool. Part of the work included extending a 3m diameter siphon between a storm drainage system and an existing outfall so that it passed beneath the widened passage, and OGI Groundwater Specialists was brought in to assist with groundwater issues.

OGI developed a dewatering approach to overcome high external groundwater pressures under tidal conditions and variable ground to allow safe construction of the shaft, which was 20m below ground level, up to 17m below water level, and only 20m from the dock wall.

Fugro logo


Award for Technical Innovation

Candidates in this new category had to demonstrate excellence in the way they used technical, systems or process innovation to improve performance and service delivered to clients.

Entrants were encouraged to focus on a particular innovation, such as a new safety, employment or technology initiative, or on how innovation is fostered and encouraged across the business.

Arcadis Consulting (UK)
Efficient design of a linear rail project using Lidar and digital GIS mine plans

An integrated approach to digital engineering enabled Arcadis to put location at the heart of a project to install overhead line equipment between Holytown and Mid Calder. The company has said that the digital approach was driven by the need to cross-reference and visualise large volumes of information on a route known to be affected by historic mine workings. Using Network Rail’s Geo Rail Infrastructure Network Model high resolution Lidar technology with mine abandonment plans improved safety, data quality and design surety, reducing costs and programme.

Arup, Cementation Skanska, Southampton University and Ciria
C760 – Update to embedded retaining walls

This team was brought together to lead the update of Ciria’s “C580 Embedded Retaining Walls” document –  known as C760 – to ensure economic and up to date design advice, which was compatible with EC7, was available in time for High Speed 2.

The result is a new publication that the team believes has the potential to save time and money in the design and construction of embedded retaining walls. Improvements include a comprehensive update on the use of the observational method, a new simple but effective method for calculating interlock on secant pile walls and a updated ground movements graphs for soft soils and weak rocks.

Concrete Canvas
CC Hydro

The product is essentially concrete on a roll and it has quickly gained acceptance from major geotechnical asset owners for providing rapid remediation. The product is said to be a cost-effective alternative to poured, precast or sprayed concrete. Concrete Canvas says development of the product is a result of its collaborative and formalised system for adopting new research projects and a reinvestment of 20% of annual overheads in research and development. The company has used development of its CC Hydro product for the petrochemical industry as an example of this process.

Geobond Piling & Foundations and Abtech Basement Systems
Geostructural solutions for embedded retaining walls and basement

Geobond prides itself on striving to stand out from the crowd and encourages and rewards staff for developing innovative solutions for every project it works on. Recent innovations include restraining systems for deep excavation support as alternatives to conventional tie-back anchors and temporary props.

As well as benefiting its clients with cost and programme savings, Geobond aims to share knowledge with the geotechnical community through publication of technical papers on the practical application of these techniques.

Geon Energy
Geon deep geothermal single well technology

Geon Energy, a joint venture between Geothermal Engineering and Arup, has said that it is committed to the development of innovative solutions to reduce the cost and minimise risk to the provision of deep geothermal energy in the UK.

The partnership has used off the shelf materials combined with smart technology to develop its single well design, which is currently being trialled in a 2.5km deep well in Cornwall. Geon said that the trials make accurate prediction of performance and installation costs possible. It believes this is key to wider adoption of geothermal heat sources.

Jacked Structures Group
Innovations for underbridges, shallow tunnels and tunnels in trenches

Jacked Structures Group says its aim is to create safer and more effective methods of installing shallow transport tunnels and underbridges and this has led to the development of a number of innovative and patented concepts. The company points to successful use of its technology to install structures below surface features such as rail tracks, roads, runways and environmentally sensitive locations with minimal disruption as the benefits of its work.

Jacked Structures Group believes that these techniques, and its approach to the work, will be key to delivering the next phase of challenging geotechnical projects

Keltbray Piling
Wireless monitoring of insitu concrete strengths in piles

Keltbray Piling has said that it installed over 40,000m3 of concrete into the ground in 2016 and used this work to research, develop and adapt the widely accepted maturity method for piling through collaboration with industry partners, including Arup. The company has said that this work has enhanced concrete quality, reduced embedded carbon, lowered costs, improved business efficiency and allowed quicker access to follow-on trades, which has reduced the overall construction programme, spoil volume and waste.

Liquefaction mitigation in New Zealand

Ground subsidence remediation specialist Mainmark has said that a culture of innovation exists across its business and its tries to approach each project with a technical innovation rather than just a product solution.

The company has developed a proprietary liquefaction mitigation solution based on experience gained through over 20 years of undertaking earthquake remediation work in New Zealand. Mainmark has said that its solution to protect existing structures is different to other techniques because it is non-invasive and can be used to address the vulnerability of the ground to liquefaction and – if necessary – re-level foundations at the same time.

Flat Mesh

Remote monitoring specialist Senceive has said that it is not only dedicated to innovation but takes a highly practical approach to working with its clients to develop customised solutions. The company believes that this approach to working relationships is why it has maintained its customer base since the business was established 10 years ago.

According to Senceive, 2016 was a breakthrough year in terms of new product offerings within its Flat Mesh platform. Developments include a wireless camera, support for multiple vibrating wire sensors and a high performance triaxial tilt sensor.



Consulting Firm of the Year

This category recognises the geotechnical consultancy, or division within a major consultant, that has continually delivered innovation, quality and value over the last 12 months, while growing in terms of revenue, profits and staff numbers. Entrants had to use evidence from projects to show how their business has gone beyond the expected level of service through interaction with clients, contractors and stakeholders.


Staff numbers in the Arup geotechnical team continued to rise in 2016 as it delivered 20% more revenue than the previous year with projects  in new geographical areas, as well as established markets. The group has also focused on innovation for its clients when expanding the team by recruiting different skill sets such as analysts, mathematicians, seismologists, hydrogeologists, as well as geotechnical engineers.

One project that has brought together this multidisciplinary team is its work with McGee to design and build a five level basement below Claridge’s hotel in London without impacting on day to day operations.


Atkins’ geotechnical division employs 400 ground engineering professionals who are consistently driving 10% year on year growth in revenues, which were recorded as £37M in 2016.

The company works on a wide range of projects but demonstrated how it effectively uses its ground engineering skills through its work on a quarry in the Woburn Sands Formation. Atkins overcame significant planning issues by creating a quarry app to visualise and model the issues. This resulted in lower costs and improved quarry operation.

Byrne Looby

Byrne Looby has said that the size of projects it worked on last year were larger than in the previous 12 months and it has significantly increased turnover despite conservative growth in staff numbers.

According to Byrne Looby, its work to stabilise a rail embankment in Armanthwaite, Cumbria is a prime example of geotechnical excellence that it driving the continued growth of the business. The company has said it worked closely with Network Rail to develop a cost effective but innovative solution that delivered a 120 year design life.

Campbell Reith

Ground engineering is one of the fastest growing disciplines within Campbell Reith, with its staff numbers increasing faster than any other part of the company. The geotechnical team also contributed almost 20% of the company’s revenues in 2016, which were up over 30% on the previous year.

An example of how the geotechnical team has grown is its appointment as the London borough of Camden’s independent basement impact assessment auditor following a European-wide tender process.

London’s booming housing market resulted in the volume of work undertaken by Campbell Reith being twice that anticipated, with over 250 audits completed in under two years.

ESI Consulting

ESI Consulting has reported strong commercial development in the last 12 months, continuing the pattern of 20% year on year revenue increases. The company has said that investments in capacity have delivered significant results has continued to invest in its staff with initiatives surrounding mentoring, wellbeing, commercial and technical skills.

ESI points to the fast tracked delivery of work to assess and remediate ground water flooding issues at United Biscuits’ factory in Carlisle as one of a number of examples of its geotechnical excellence.

Mott MacDonald

Expansion of services in the water, geomorphology and coastal, and seismic hazard sectors were the main drivers of growth of staff and revenue for Mott MacDonald last year. These developments, carried out alongside major projects across the world, saw geotechnical services revenues rise by 19%.

The consultant cites its work on the Northern Line Extension as demonstrating the benefits it delivers for its clients. The company has said that its application of the observational method and details analysis has led to development of a less conservative, more efficient tunnel design.



Contractor of the Year

This category provides an opportunity for geotechnical contractors or general contractors to present their dedication to delivering innovation, quality and value in geotechnics over the last 12 months. Candidates were asked to demonstrate successful project delivery; partnering capabilities; solid relationships with clients, project partners, stakeholders and the wider community; and clear delivery of growth.

Aarsleff Ground Engineering

Aarsleff Ground Engineering has undergone a period of significant growth with a 65% increase in employee numbers, a 129% rise in order value and a doubling of revenues to £21.2M. To support this growth, the company has opened a new office in the North East and strengthened its presence in the south of England.

One of the projects that contributed to the growth is the largest undertaken in the company’s 25 year history. It required the installation of 15,000 precast piles for a new distribution centre. Despite the scale of the project, the piling was completed two months ahead of schedule.

Bachy Soletanche

Bachy Soletanche’s revenues remained steady in 2016 but the contractor reported a three-fold increase in profitability in its specialist geotechnical works business, saw significant improvements in its southern region and won one of its largest ever standalone contracts in the North. One of the highest profile projects undertaken by Bachy last year was the piling work on the Dover sea wall for Network Rail. The work to install 129 rotary bored piles close to the sea called for some innovative solutions but the work was still delivered ahead of schedule and under budget.

Balfour Beatty Ground Engineering

Balfour Beatty Ground Engineering (BBGE) describes 2016 as a year of substantial change and development with gains in size and turnover on the back of a record year in 2015. The company reports a 22% rise in revenues to £96M and a 20% increase in profits to £7.1M.

BBGE also set new records during its piling work for the Newfoundland project at Canary Wharf when it installed the largest test pile in the UK ahead of the main contract. Piling called for close liaison with London Underground as some piles were installed within metres of the Jubilee line tunnels.

Cementation Skanska

Cementation Skanska reported a 75% increase in operating income in 2016 through its focus on preconstruction activities and engaging with customers and employees for feedback.

According to the Cementation, its work on the foundations and retaining walls for the Northern Line Extension Battersea Station Box project in London exemplifies the company’s delivery of geotechnical excellence. The work called for over 200 diaphragm wall panels and 76 large diameter piles, which were constructed to over 60m and called for the development of a number of innovative solutions.


Keller delivered a 9% increase in revenues in 2016 but its major achievement was in its safety performance with an injury free year, for which staff were rewarded with additional holiday.

Keller also became a TV star when a bridge it worked on the foundations for was featured on the BBC One Show and the local evening news. The original bridge in Tadcaster was destroyed in floods in December 2015 and Keller was brought in to undertake challenging underwater foundations work for the new structure and its work was featured on the BBC when the structure was reopened.

Keltbray Piling

Keltbray Piling recorded its seventh successive year of revenue growth with sales of £60M. The company believes that its success is a direct result of its philosophy of collaboration.

Keltbray invested over £100,000 in innovation last year and part of this was to further improve its electronic site recording system to drive further efficiency gains.

According to the company, investment in research is also a key part of the business and it has worked collaboratively with other industry players to develop the maturity method for piling and has installed the first ever “cement free” pile at Chelsea Barracks in London.

MJ Rooney Construction

MJ Rooney Construction repeated its sustained growth of the last three years to maintain a year on year growth average of 20%. This increase was in part delivered by the firm undertaking its largest ever geotechnical project – valued at £1.2M – for three double storey basements at Hereford Square.

The company has worked on a wide range of projects. One it is particularly proud of is its work to construct a wine cellar below a house in Kent.

Vibro Menard

Results of a three year business plan are reflected in Vibro Menard’s 2016 performance, with an 18% increase in revenues and a 9.6% rise in profits compared to the previous year. The company says its staff were a central part of the plan with a focus on retention, as well as adding new products to its offering.

One of the more recent product additions is controlled modulus columns. Last year Vibro worked with WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, using the technique to create a raised construction platform for a new development to cut the construction programme.

Ward & Burke Construction

Ward & Burke has said that the 24% rise in revenues recorded last year is a direct result of 15 years of continuous in-house training for all its staff with “workforce days” to ensure a culture of inclusive thinking. The company has said that this approach is essential to ensure it is constantly developing new methods to successfully eliminate risk through practical and innovative techniques. Ward & Burke says discussions about construction sequences ensure efficiency and safety and lead to new ideas to improve the work.

Bam ritchies


International Project of the Year

This award recognises projects that have delivered geotechnical innovation that stands out on the international stage for excellence in sustainability, health and safety and value engineering. Entrants were encouraged to demonstrate – among other things – innovation, value for money, performance against prediction and the quality of design and construction.

The 4G ground engineering model for offshore Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi has extensive offshore oil and gas reserves that have been exploited for over 60 years, but the vast amount of geotechnical data gathered over this period has not been collated or interpreted. Arup worked with client ADMA-OPCO to bring all the information together enabling effective decision making on geotechnical siting of new exploration facilities.

Arup enlisted the help of the British Geological Survey to develop the 3D geological model database to bring together geology, geohazards, geotechnical data and geotechnical design information. The 4G model is now an essential tool to manage ground-related uncertainties as part of a wider risk management strategy.

Cementation Skanska European Spallation
Source, Sweden

Foundations for the new European Union-funded European Spallation Source research centre called for Cementation Skanska to deliver nuclear-grade precision and ensure the foundations were earthquake resistant.

Cementation worked as part of a collaborative team to develop the piled foundation solution to overcome the thick glacial till and variable bedrock depth. To isolate the upper section of the piles from seismically induced ground movements, bespoke steel twin-wall liners were used. The specialist foundation design saved eight months from the critical path of the project.

City of Rotterdam
Historic railway bridge foundation adaptation

Flood mitigation on the river Waal near Nijmegen in the Netherlands required the City of Rotterdam to construct an extra river channel alongside the main river course. But this new channel undercut three shallow rail bridge foundations and a solution was needed to prevent subsidence of the bridge so the rail line could remain operational during construction. The 19th century rail bridge was protected by constructing rigid boxes formed by diaphragm walls around the shallow foundations to maintain soil stresses around the shallow foundations.  Work was completed within ground movement tolerances and without train delays.

FCC Construcción
Bolaños Tunnel

The new Bolaños Tunnel is a key link on the new high speed rail line that is being constructed in Spain between Madrid and Galicia. FCC Construcción undertook construction of one of the 6km-long single track tunnels.

According to FCC Construcción, the main challenge was the varied geology with mixed shales and quartzite, phyllite quartzite and sandstones combined with groundwater and faulting. These challenges led to the upper part of the tunnel being constructed using conventional drill and blast techniques – to allow the waterproofing system to be installed – and the lower part of the tunnel bore was then excavated by TBM.

Rockfall mitigation measures at Saptshrungi Gad Temple, India

Unstable rock slopes above the Saptshrungi Gad Temple in India and the path leading to it had resulted in fatal injuries to pilgrims and damage to the temple itself. Maccaferri was brought in to undertake remedial work. The solution involved a mix of rock scaling, rock bolting, draping rock nets, installing rock fall barriers and vegetation removal

According to Maccaferri, carrying out the work was complicated by the height and shapes of the rock faces and much of the work had to be undertaken using rope access techniques. The instability of the rock faces, as well as high winds, added to the challenge.

True Blue mineshaft rehabilitation project, West Wyalong

Remediation of a partially collapsed historic mineshaft in the car park of an operational hotel in West Wyalong in New South Wales, Australia is described by Mainmark as technically and physically challenging. A previous attempt by another contractor to cap the 300m deep mine shaft had failed creating a cavern that had triggered subsidence of the hotel. Mainmark developed a bespoke grout formulation and self-releasing grout deflector to place a neutrally buoyant plug 30m underwater to support backfill material. The plug eliminated the need for backfill the whole mine shaft.

Mott MacDonald
Doha Metro major stations

Work on two of the major stations on the Doha Metro had to start before Mott MacDonald had completed the design for the permanent works. The urban location, ground conditions and depth of excavation – the deepest ever undertaken in Qatar – made the work particularly challenging.

Cut and cover station boxes for the Education City and Msheireb stations had to be designed for aggressive ground and groundwater conditions. The complex ground conditions, and the influence of existing infrastructure, led the company to develop a bespoke diaphragm wall thickness.

Bachy soletanche


Rising Star Award

This category celebrates emerging talent in the geotechnical industry and was open to engineers aged 30 and under who have made a significant contribution to a project, or demonstrated technical ability through research. Candidates are judged on all-round ability – not only academic and work related achievements – but also their enthusiasm for geotechnical or geoenvironmental engineering.

Riccardo Corti, Arup

Arup graduate engineer Riccardo Corti’s interest in construction was sparked as a child by construction of a new railway bridge close to his home in Rome, where he says he was surrounded by amazing engineering structures. “The magnificence of the Colosseum and St. Peter’s Basilica, the elegance of the Trevi Fountain and the efficiency of Aqua Claudia Roman aqueduct have been a source of inspiration to me and have triggered my interest in engineering,” he says.

Arup director Paul Morrison says Corti has repeatedly demonstrated keen interest and passion for solving geotechnical engineering problems, particularly those with more challenging soil behaviour.

Aliki Kokkinou, Aecom

Aecom assistant geotechnical engineer Aliki Kokkinou’s natural aptitude for mathematics and physics, combined with both her parents being engineers, led her towards a career in construction. “I was fascinated with the idea of a profession that involves problem solving, designing and building structures of different scales, from buildings to bridges and tunnels,” she says.

Commenting on her work, Aecom principal geotechnical engineer Mitesh Chandegra says: “Aliki continually promotes a positive culture of lessons learned and knowledge transfer by producing and sharing numerous technical notes that she produces in her own time, following delivery of these and other projects.”

John O’Donovan, Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions

The desire to follow a career that could tangibly change the world; and the freedom to travel and work anywhere is what inspired Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions senior engineer John O’Donovan to study engineering. O’Donovan specialised in geotechnics because he says it is a combination of physics, chemistry, mathematics and materials science keeps the work interesting and challenging.

Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions principal engineer Paul Quigley says: “John has a particular ability to digest complex soil mechanics concepts and to break them down to usable information and input, in an effort towards solving geotechnical engineering challenges.”

Frank O’Leary, Arup

Arup geotechnical engineer Frank O’Leary’s interest in the built environment was inspired by his grandfather who was a building contractor, and grew during a visit to New York as a teenager where skyscrapers created a lasting impression. O’Leary joined Arup’s geotechnical team after completing his undergraduate dissertation on construction of deep basements in Cork, Ireland.

Arup associate director Sarah Glover says: “In my view Frank is a huge asset to the engineering profession and a shining example of the best young engineers in our industry.”

Martin Plant, Atkins

Atkins senior geotechnical engineer Martin Plant chose an engineering career path as he wanted to have an impact on the world, have the option to travel and work with diverse teams.

He says he was drawn into ground engineering profession at university as the inherent natural properties of the

ground provide a never ending cycle of challenges.  According to Atkins principal geotechnical engineer Martin Scorer, Plant has built on an excellent academic background and invaluable experience gained working in challenging environments overseas to become an integral member of the geotechnics team.

Joseph Slattery, CGL

CGL senior engineer Joseph Slattery says that engineering was the perfect career choice for him as it challenged his analytical nature and the problem solving skills that were gained from a hands-on childhood working on his family’s farm in Ireland. He says he was drawn to geotechnics during his MSc in civil engineering design and management at University of Dundee.

According to CGL chairman Nick Langdon, Slattery’s commitment to the analysis of complex geotechnical problems and the provision of pragmatic solutions is pretty exceptional in Langdon’s experience.

Matt Walpole, Simplex Westpile

Simplex Westpile operations manager Matt Walpole says that, from a young age, “buildings, architecture and construction intrigued me and I was always trying to build things. “ He was drawn to civil engineering by the diversity of the profession and the ability to choose and carve a career path.

Simplex Westpile general manager Rob Howarth says Walpole’s passion for his particular field shines through in all that he does. “He uses the knowledge he has gained from this experience to challenge why things are done in a particular way with the aim of improving safety and profitability,” says Howarth.



Sustainability Award

Entrants to this category were required to demonstrate an innovative, unusual or cutting-edge approach to environmental and sustainability issues on a geotechnical project. The shortlisted entries outlined benefits to all three pillars of sustainability – environmental, social and economic; an involvement with others in the supply chain; and the potential for the approach to be rolled out to other schemes or projects.

Atkins, Erith and National Grid Property Holdings
Isle of Grain drainage rising main refurbishment works

Failure of a 1950s pumped drainage system at National Grid’s Isle of Grain liquefied natural gas terminal had the potential to cause widespread flooding. Consultant Atkins and contractor Erith worked with National Grid to repair the system to improve long term resilience.

Ground instability resulting from the drainage leaks, the brownfield status of the site and nearby environmentally sensitive areas drove the use of insitu renewal of existing infrastructure to minimise excavation of material and potential disturbance of contamination. 

Bam Nuttall
Hove Tunnel rock cutting

Work on an earlier phase of rock slope stabilisation on a rail cutting in Hove, Sussex meant that Bam Nuttall was able to mitigate vegetation removal and improve the biodiversity of the area. The improvements came as a result of liaison between Bam Nuttall, Network Rail and local residents who were concerned about the loss of the “green corridor” the rail line created.

According to Bam Nuttall, the result has been the successful protection of the railway from chalk fall, while reinstating a vegetation screen where practical. The vegetation screen was designed to minimise Network Rail’s ongoing maintenance liability while maximising the site’s biodiversity.

Hewson Consulting Engineers, Balfour Beatty and Network Rail
Edinburgh Interchange Station

Hewson Consulting Engineers successfully used building information modelling to carry out detailed analysis of a temporary retaining wall to show that minor modifications could enable it to become part of the permanent work. The work at Edinburgh Interchange Station meant that removal of the king piled and ground anchored structure, built during construction of a tramway, could be avoided to minimise disturbance of the ground, reduce costs and minimise use of virgin materials.

The original design proposed removal of the temporary structure and replacement with a reinforced concrete structure but Hewson’s proposal to modify the existing structure removed the need to undertake 4,500m3 of excavation and place 1,000m3 of concrete. 

M40 acoustic barrier, Banbury

Maccaferri worked with consultant M-EC to develop a noise bund for a new 500 home housing development being undertaken by Bellway Homes next to the M40 near Banbury.

The acoustic bund was built using site-won material – that would otherwise have been classed as waste – and Maccaferri’s Green Terramesh, which Maccaferri says blends into the surroundings creating an aesthetically pleasing view.

According to the company, the combination of site-won material and the Terramesh reduced costs and boosted the sustainability of the solution while still delivering the noise reduction required by the client.

Network Rail
Enhancing rail asset service life using under sleeper pads

Under sleeper pads – pads placed between a sleeper and underlying ballast – are helping Network Rail to optimise use of resources and reduce the volume of material sent to landfill.

Network Rail says that without using the pads the life expectancy of a rail is up to 20 years, sleepers up to 40 years and ballast up to 30 years but the pads help align the life expectancy to reduce the whole life asset costs. Network Rail believes that use of under sleeper pads moves away from traditional track renewal options, towards a more innovative way of working. The drivers are to enhance the life span of rail asset, with the additional sustainability benefits of reducing carbon emissions.

Bermondsey Dive Under

The £77M Bermondsey Dive Under will untangle 11 rail tracks elevated on Victorian masonry arch viaduct structures on the eastern approach to London Bridge railway station. The work undertaken by Skanska and Ramboll called for major demolition work and construction of nine new structures with an overall length of 1.4km to create a grade separated junction.

Skanska and Ramboll worked together to minimise import and export of material from the site in a bid to reduce costs and programme time and boost sustainability. This included reusing brick demolition waste as a fill material, reusing brick arch foundations and reduced pile numbers through use of an innovative layout and reuse of site-won material for earthworks.

United Utilities
Water course reinstatement and provision of storm resilience

Winter storms in late 2015 and early 2016 damaged a number of assets owned by United Utilities resulting in loss of raw water supply, channel erosion and undermining of structures. While the focus of the water company was to repair the damage as quickly as possible, United Utilities says that the solutions were based on the three pillars of sustainability to deliver minimal environmental and customer impacts and lowest whole life cost.

UK Project with a Geotechnical Value up to £1M

This category celebrates ground engineering schemes with a geotechnical contract value of up to £1M. Each of the finalists were asked to demonstrate innovative design, value engineering, involvement with project stakeholder and community, and efficient delivery. The judges also expect entrants to provide evidence of exceptional measures that were taken to ensure the project was delivered above the expected standard.

Cowi UK
Provost Driver Court

Repair of ground settlement damage at one of Scottish Water’s foul sewer pumping stations led consultant Cowi to develop a resin injection solution to both re-level the building and seal off redundant pipework with groundwater extraction used to densify the ground. Cowi worked with main contractor Morrison, groundwater specialist W J Groundwater and ground stabilisation contractor Uretek to carry out the work.

With the pumping station located at the end of a residential cul de sac, the groundwater control had to be designed to minimise the risk of ground movement to neighbouring properties and prevent further damage to the facility itself. The residential location also had to be central to the design of the remediation work to reduce the impact on the site’s neighbours.

Network Rail
Tebay Emergency

Flooding in Cumbria in December 2015 caused the collapse of one end of a mass concrete wall adjacent River Lune exposed the toe of an embankment on the West Coast Main Line. Speed restrictions were put in place while remedial designs were undertaken by Jeremy Benn Associates to overcome the environmental challenges of the site and repair the damage.

The solution involved removing the collapsed sections and placement of rock armour as scour protection to support the embankment both at the point of collapse and up and downstream from it too. Benches were introduced into the embankment and geotextile material placed on it to further improve stability.

Pell Frischmann
Manningtree Station lifts

Train operator Abellio Greater Anglia’s upgrade of Manningtree Station included providing step-free access to platforms three and four, which were previously only accessible by subway and stairs. Pell Fischmann was brought in to provide design for the temporary and permanent works needed to install a lift shaft within the platform while the station remained operational.

Pre-arranged possession dates to lift in prefabricated superstructure elements imposed a very tight construction programme, which had to be taken into consideration at the design phase.

Pudding Mill Lane trackbed monitoring

Crossrail’s tunnel portal at Pudding Mill Lane in east London emerges adjacent to Network Rail and Docklands Light Railway lines and these remained operational during the tunnelling work. The alignment also called for the DLR station to be rebuilt and for an embankment to be cut and retained by a secant pile wall, so monitoring was essential to minimise the risk to the operational railway.

Senseive worked with main contractor Morgan Sindall to develop a wireless monitoring system to continually check the railway geometry to ensure the construction work had not affected the trackbed. According to Senceive, the wireless system delivered an accurate solution with a resolution of better than 1mm of change of cant between rails.

United Utilities, Amey, Donegan Civil Engineering and Manchester City Council
Mancunian Way sewer collapse and remediation

Collapse of a 14m deep sinkhole caused the closure of the A57(M) Mancunian Way in Manchester last year and United Utilities has said that the repair is the largest remedial project the company has ever undertaken. Investigations showed that there was no safe way to stabilise the ground in order to repair the collapsed sewer, so a new offline tunnel was constructed and the sinkhole was stabilised by grouting at depth using tube a manchette and end placement methods.

According to United Utilities, collaboration between itself, Manchester City Council and its specialist contractors was key to delivering the work from concept to completion within nine months, rather than the two years a project of this scale would normally take.

Walsh and CGL
5 Miles Street, London

Structural and civil engineering consultant Walsh worked with geotechnical consultant CGL to develop a piled raft foundation for a new 33 storey student accommodation building in Vauxhall, London. The piled raft solution was key to the viability of the whole project as the site had a small triangular footprint and was too constrained for the large diameter piled foundations needed to support the expected loads.

The raft solution uses a contiguous piled wall to provide a retaining structure around the site perimeter and form a raft within the gravels underlying the site. Concern of the possibility of a scour feature but no time for further ground investigation led to piles in this area being undertaken first to enable redesigns to be undertaken if necessary. 



UK Project with a Geotechnical Value between £1M and £3M

This category celebrates ground engineering schemes with a geotechnical contract value of between £1M and £3M. Each of the finalists was asked to demonstrate innovative design, value engineering, involvement with project stakeholder and community, and efficient delivery. The judges also expect entrants to provide evidence of exceptional measures that were taken to ensure a project was delivered above the expected standard.

Bam Nuttall
Hove Tunnel rock cutting

The rail cutting on the approach to Hove Tunnel is one of the deepest on the south east route at 19m and the potential for failure in the Chalk slopes presented significant risk to the railway. Network Rail brought in Bam Nuttall to develop remedial measures to reduce the risk of line speed restrictions due to rocks falls on, or close to, the track.

The work was split into two phases and undertaken without line closures. The first phase involved scaling of the faces to remove loose material and undertaking a detailed laser scan of the slopes. Using the scan data, Nuttall developed an anchored mesh solution to prevent failed material reaching the track which was installed during the second part of the scheme.

Cementation Skanska
Bridgwater – Burnham Jetty

Cementation Skanska’s proposal of an alternative design for construction of a shaft for Wessex Water’s upgrade to the Bristol Road Sewage Pumping Station in Bridgwater, Somerset saved time and costs. According to Cementation, its use of hoop stress design for the secant piled shaft was based on experience gained on a similar project and eliminated the need for temporary works to deliver the project savings.

The company reports that the piles for the 15.5m diameter, 30m deep shaft were installed using full length temporary casings to tolerances of better than 1:200 verticality that enabled excavation ahead of programme and with lower than anticipated water inflows.

CGL, Galliford Try and Furness Partnership
1-9 Seymour Street, London

Demolition of Marylebone Police Station, built in the 1970s, to the original 6m to 10m deep raft foundation and replacement with mixed use development with a double basement created a number of geotechnical and party wall challenges.

CGL, Galliford Try and the Furness Partnership worked to fully understand the ground conditions before developing a solution that involved underpinning, piling and permeation grouting to enable the basement to be excavated while maintaining the building façade. Design analysis to help sequence the works also enabled the project team to actively manage the project to prevent delays by proposing alternative designs as the work progressed.

CH2M and Raymond Brown Construction
Pines Hotel Cliff Stabilisation Scheme, Swanage

Long term future of a cliff top hotel a new development platform have been secured by CH2M and Raymond Brown Construction on the Pines Hotel cliff stabilisation scheme in Swanage.

The hotel is set 10m back from the edge of 30m high cliffs in the Wealden Formation that have suffered from erosion and landslide failures. CH2M and Raymond Brown worked together to design and deliver a solution involving soil nails, a reinforced sprayed concrete soil nailed wall, bored pile walls, trench drains and sub-horizontal drilled drains. The design incorporates space at the foot of the cliff to allow beach huts to be constructed, with the aim offsetting the cost of the cliff stabilisation works and making them affordable to the client.

Tovil Embankment

Failure of earthworks on the railway between Maidstone West and East Farleigh has caused speed restrictions and line closures in the past, but work by Costain for Network Rail should prevent this issue recurring. Deep seated failures in the Hythe Beds were triggered at Tovil Embankment in 1961 when the water level in the adjacent River Medway was lowered. Costain had to overcome weak ground with limited access to resolve the problem.

The solution included installation of an 11m sheet pile wall tied back with tension piles measuring up to 25m in length with equipment brought to site by barge. The work was carried out without closures on the rail line and real time monitoring equipment was installed to ensure the safety of rail passengers.

Dawnus Ferrovial Agroman JV
A4234 Cardiff Eastern Bay Link

Poor ground conditions, contaminated ground, complicated utilities and restricted working space had to be overcome by the Dawnus Ferrovial Agroman joint venture on construction of the A4234 Cardiff Eastern Bay Link.

The joint venture proposed the use of a surcharged embankment in place of two piled approach embankments to manage some of the challenges on site and used alternative materials and detailed analysis to reduce the surcharge period to 22 weeks instead of 38. The result was that the route was delivered on time and budget despite the issues encountered during the work.

Tate Modern Extension

Construction of the extension to London’s Tate Modern called for Ramboll to combine new foundations with existing ones to support the Switch House, which has been described as truncated twisting pyramid.

The new structure is built over the old switch house, the last part of the former power station to be decommissioned. Some of the piled foundations for the new building had to be constructed before demolition started, to effectively manage ground heave. The new structure is built over three disused oil tanks that have been converted as gallery space but mini piling and conventional piles were needed to support the Switch House.



UK Project with a Geotechnical Value over £3M

Recognising the contribution of geotechnical work to major projects, this category called for entrants to demonstrate credentials in innovation, sustainability, health and safety and value engineering. Candidates for this award delivered the work as either a standalone project or part of a larger development but all were called on to show the exceptional measures that were taken to result in the project being delivered above the expected standard.

Arup Geotechnical and Sir Robert McAlpine
10 Fenchurch Avenue

Arup Geotechnical and Sir Robert McAlpine partnered to value engineer the design of a four level basement for a new 14 storey building in the city of London. The focus on the temporary support enabled the construction programme for the secant pile wall supported basement to be shortened, while maximising access for construction by using a single level of props measuring up to 50m in length.

The team also developed a piled raft foundation in place of a fully piled solution and reduced pile diameters in some areas to add further efficiencies to the construction process.

Bauer Technologies
M8/M73/M74 improvements

This major motorway upgrade is designed to improve connections between Edinburgh and Glasgow and includes construction of a number of new highway structures. Bauer Technologies undertook the foundation work for these new structures, including a highly sensitive new rail bridge.

The work called for Bauer to install piles to depths of up to 30m, some with rock sockets, close to both live railway lines and operational motorways. The contract also involved extensive pile testing and installation of an automatic inclinometer shape array into a large retaining wall to provide real time monitoring.

Bauer Technologies
Principal Place Residential, London

When complete, the Foster & Partners’ designed Principal Place will be one of the tallest residential buildings in central London at 175m high. Piled foundations and a secant piled wall were undertaken by Bauer Technologies using new piling technology to overcome some on site challenges.

Bauer used the newly developed On-Top Reaming tool to allowed time efficient widening of the uncased pile shaft to the outer diameter of the temporary casing to effectively manage the tight pile spacing on the large diameter secant piled wall.

Bauer also worked with the main contractor Multiplex and consultant Byrne Looby to enable one level of propping to be eliminated to reduce time and cost on site.

Bicester to Oxford Collaboration
East West Rail Phase 1

The Bicester to Oxford Collaborations is a joint venture of Chiltern Railways, Network Rail, Carillion Buckingham Joint Venture, Atkins, Siemens and RSK which is working to develop a new rail line as part of a larger project to boost regional connectivity between Oxford and Cambridge.

Opening of the 16km Bicester to Oxford rail line called for considerable geotechnical input for slope and embankment analysis, earthworks design and lowering of an existing rail tunnel using underpinning techniques.

Expanded Geotechnical
Nine Elms Station Box, Northern Line Extension

Construction of the 25m deep rectangular Nine Elms Station Box provides the foundations to one of two new stations on Transport for London’s Northern Line Extension.

The station design called for Expanded Geotechnical to install the deepest cased wall of 1.65m diameter ever undertaken in the UK to form the secant piled wall perimeter. Male piles were installed to 55m depth with 27m of segmental casing.

The work also called for construction of large diameter bearing piles to be drilled under bentonite with high tolerance plunge columns to support precast beams for the top down basement construction.

Ramboll Skanska
Bermondsey Dive Under

The Bermondsey Dive Under will untangle 11 elevated rail lines south of London Bridge Station to enable south east London rail services to “dive under” Thameslink services.

The project replaces Victorian masonry arch viaducts with a mix of new arch viaducts, reinforced earth walls, retaining walls, earthworks embankments and new integral bridges.

Ramboll and Skanska worked together to design the structures to minimise impact on rail services and the local area, while improving the buildability of the scheme and reducing environmental impact.

Volker Ground Engineering
Ipswich Tidal Barrier

Construction of a new tidal barrier in Ipswich will improve tidal surge flood protection for parts of the town and improve resilience against future sea level rises. Piling for the new structure on the River Orwell was undertaken by Volker Ground Engineering using an alternative cofferdam approach rather than the original proposal for over water working.

Adoption of land-based working enable a 400t crane to be used, and the improved efficiency of the operation offset the higher costs.

According to Volker Ground Engineering, the main challenges were the ground conditions at the site which comprised weak Chalk to depths of 50m overlain by soft alluvium and gravels, and handling and driving the tubular piles that required structural welding insitu.



Health and Safety

Finalists for the Health and Safety Award demonstrated an initiative, operational process, innovation or piece of equipment that has contributed to improving health and safety on site. Candidates were expected to show quantifiable safety improvement; techniques used to deliver the initiative; employee acceptance or involvement in delivery; and involvement of stakeholders and others in the supply chain.

Arcadis Consulting (UK)
Reducing driving risks through improving positive behaviours

Arcadis has recognised that driving is one of the highest risk activities undertaken by its geotechnical team. It launched its Driving Behaviour Initiative to try to mitigate the risks by changing drivers’ behaviour. It has installed tracking systems on its vehicle fleet to gain access to driving data such as location, speed and incidents such as harsh braking and cornering. The data is shared with drivers to help them monitor and change their own performance. The best drivers are recognised on a leader board.

Bachy Soletanche

Bachy Soletanche developed its BAC app to educate, inform and report on health and safety across its business. It is an integral part of the company’s Homesafe behavioural safety programme. The app was initially developed to improve reporting of near misses and incidents. Previous systems were paper or computer-based and not all staff had access to ensure swift reporting. The app was first launched three years ago and was updated in 2016.

Balfour Beatty Ground Engineering
Hands-free splicing

BBGE worked with two of its key suppliers to develop a hands-free splicing technique to significantly improve safety performance on piling sites where reinforcement cages need to be joined. The conventional approach involves manually connecting steel cages as they are hung vertically over the pile bore, with operatives inserting their hands between the rebar to make the connections. The hands-free system uses a latch mechanism to connect the cages without manual handling. It also includes a funnel device to guide sonic tube coupling.

Central Alliance
CA at Work app

Central Alliance’s app allows its workforce to access and update management and reporting systems via their smartphones. The functionality includes updating vehicle maintenance forms, holiday requests and near miss reporting. The company says the incident reporting aspect of the app ensures that it can quickly review any incidents or near misses and decide which  need further investigation.

Lithos Consulting
Man Down mobile phone app

The Man Down app triggers an email or audible alert to designated managers if an engineer does not move for more than 60 seconds, or complete a task within a specified time. The app uses built-in accelerometers and GPS technology to locate the engineer. Lithos developed the app after recognising that engineers doing site walkovers, and more junior staff doing gas and water monitoring, were often at risk because they were working alone and sometimes in remote locations.

Raeburn Drilling and Geotechnical
Welfare Anywhere

Raeburn developed its Welfare Anywhere initiative because it wanted to improve welfare facilities for staff undertaking site or ground investigation projects in remote locations. The Welfare Anywhere solution comprises a Groundhog type of vehicle capsule adapted to contain a drying area, seating, plus cooking, washing and toilet facilities.

Structural Soils
Manual handling solutions

Structural Soils has developed bespoke handles to counter risks of  back and hand injuries through the manual handing of casing equipment. The portable plastic handles are issued in pairs to staff and can be used to lift metal casing of any diameter. The handles remove the risk of hand injuries and improve grip to reduce the risk of back injuries from heavy lifting.

Ward & Burke
Rebar truss supporting system

Ward & Burke developed its rebar truss supporting system for vertical reinforcement cages. It allows the cages to be fabricated at ground level and fixed into a vertical position to improve safety and accuracy. The system was developed after  a steel cage on one of the company’s projects collapsed after props were used to support it while shuttering was positioned. 

Equipment Innovation

This new category celebrates excellence delivered through development of a new product or technology in the last 12 months. Entrants could demonstrate innovation in health and safety, in-use performance, sustainability, cost or another area that can demonstrably improve the performance or quality of service that the purchasing company offers to its clients.

Arcadis Consulting (UK)
Exeter to Newton Abbot resilience works

Arcadis developed a Digital Engineering Working Practice (DEWP) to streamline the collection of data during its work on the Exeter to Newton Abbot resilience project. The DEWP used tablet-based apps to collect and transmit the data to a single cloud-based database irrespective of the data type.

According to Arcadis, the system ensured the project benefited from accurate and accessible datasets, collated health and safety information, ensured consistency in reporting and made the work more efficient.

Groundforce Shorco
Sheet Master

Sheet Master is a multifunction, sheet handling and installation attachment that connects to an excavator boom via a standard quick hitch coupler that makes handling and installing trench sheets quicker, more controllable and safer.

Groundforce Shorco has said that the initial idea came from their product development forum which meets quarterly to discuss product innovation ideas from early concept to taking a final production model to market. According to the company, a key objective of the team is how to provide contractors with new solutions to common problems and ways of making working on site easier, quicker and safer and the Sheet Master product meets these objectives.

Inbye Engineering
Strength monitoring using thermal imaging

Inbye Engineering is a spin-out business from research at the University of Warwick which was established to deliver strength monitoring using thermal imaging (SMUTI) for the tunnelling industry. The method monitors the early strength of sprayed concrete using an Arrhenius equation based maturity method that can calculate strength based on temperature history.

SMUTI allows the strength of shotcrete lining to be monitored from a safe position, which Inbye says is a step-change in safety and quality control of sprayed concrete lined tunnelling.

Kier Bam Joint Venture
Hinkley Point C earthworks and preliminary works contract

The Kier Bam Joint Venture’s contract for earthworks at Hinkley Point C includes the installation of over 10,000 steel ground nails up to 12m in length into vertical rock faces. The team recognised there was an opportunity to improve efficiency and safety of the installation process through use of installation beam.

Working at height and manual handling were either eliminated or reduced through use of the beam, which also improved accuracy during installation. Trials of the system on site helped refine the design and showed that it was faster than the conventional installation approach.

Innovation in cone penetration testing

Lankelma has developed a number of equipment innovations to improve the use of cone penetration testing (CPT). This includes what the company believes is the only road-rail CPT truck in the work and a new wireline CPT system, which is says is a viable alternative to traditional top-push techniques for nearshore projects with 50% higher testing rates.

Lankelma has also worked with the University of Bristol to develop a new CPT technique to improve the design of piles subjected to cyclic loading in chalk, such as those supporting wind turbines.

Raeburn Drilling and Geotechnical
Welfare Anywhere

Raeburn’s Welfare Anywhere system was developed to ensure welfare facilities were provided for its drill crews regardless of where they are working and came about as a result of feedback from staff.

According to Raeburn, the system reduces the amount of equipment needed on site which in turn reduces cost and the number of vehicle movements on site offering significant advantages to the environment and project programme. The system also improves employee safety and comfort through provision of shelter and communications.

Raptor Anchoring and Rockbit UK
Raptor rock anchors

Raptor Anchoring is a joint venture resulting from the collaboration of drilling rig manufacturer and distributor Rockbit and research and development specialist Sustainable Marine Energy.

The companies have said that the Raptor Rock anchor is an innovative solution to anchoring equipment to a rock substrate, which was initially conceived with harsh marine environments in mind but can also be used on land. The anchor comprises a self-drilling tendon with the ability to under and over ream its bore during installation, expanding into the bore and consequently applying tension to the anchor stem and the surrounding rock.

Structural Soils
Retrofitted safety bar

Following an incident involving a cable percussive rig on one of its ground investigation sites, Structural Soils rapidly developed and deployed a safety system to minimise the risk of such an incident recurring. The solution is a bespoke securing bar designed to be fitted to the rig to prevent hand injuries during operation of the rig.

Details of the design were shared with the British Drilling Association so that other ground investigation companies could also implement the retrofitted safety system to their rig fleets.

Geoenvironmental Project of the Year

This category is for a geoenvironmental scheme that stands out in terms of its credentials in innovation, quality, sustainability, health and safety and value engineering. The shortlist is formed of schemes that have a major focus on contaminated land remediation or specialist environmental protection as part of a geotechnical scheme.

Ex-situ remediation on an operational pharmaceutical site

Aecom was commissioned to develop a remediation solution to avoid off-site disposal of over 11,000m3 of soil that was contaminated with chlorinated hydrocarbons on a working pharmaceutical site to allow the area to be redeveloped.

The company developed an ex-situ treatment operation within the pharmaceutical site to use aerobic and anaerobic techniques to allow the contamination to be treated and material backfilled following geotechnical stabilisation.

Arcadis Consulting (UK)
Portslade Beach tar seepage investigation and remediation

Part of Shoreham Port was previously occupied by Portslade Gasworks and severe winter storms in 2013 and 2014 removed around 0.5m of sand from the beach revealing tar seepage from the newly exposed rock. Shoreham Port brought in Arcadis to investigate and develop a remediation solution for the problem.

Arcadis successfully used a solar skimming system to recover the non-aqueous phase liquid at the gas works area source, that was then following a specific lignite horizon pathway to resurface some 150m offshore at the new low spring water outcrop.

Concrete Canvas
Use of Concrete Canvas at Ullswater

Concrete Canvas’ Geosynthetic Cementitious Composite Mat was used in the wake of Storm Desmond in December 2015 to improve surface drainage and prevent erosion of mining waste at Greensand Mine in Cumbria. The material was used to rapidly re-line the channel to ensure the long-term integrity of the tailings dam to ensure the impounded material was not released into the environment.

Concrete Canvas has said that its product offered significant advantages over conventional techniques because it could be deployed more cheaply and faster than alternatives.

ESI Consulting
McVitie’s groundwater flooding assessment

United Biscuits’ factory in Carlisle was flooded following Storm Desmond in December 2015 and it took four months to clean up and restart operations to produce its McVitie’s brands. ESI Consulting was brought in to help design and develop flood defences for the site to prevent a reoccurrence of the problem.

Analysis showed that groundwater was not a major contributor to the issue and resulted in a pump system for the basement being designed to manage any future flooding incidents.

Former polishing and plating site

Redevelopment of a former electroplating works called for contamination assessment to protect both the future development and the underlying Chalk groundwater aquifer from the past use of the site. RSK was brought in to assess the site in Letchworth in 2010 and the work was completed late last year.

Phased ground investigations identified the types and locations of contamination, as well as characterisation of a perched aquifer within the Chalk. RSK developed a hydrogeological model for the site that demonstrated that remediation was not required, which gave the client significant cost savings.

Ground Investigation Project of the Year (under £500k)

The Ground Investigation Project of the Year (under £500k) category rewards innovation and excellence on smaller site investigation, surveying and monitoring projects. The judges were looking for evidence of excellence in project delivery; partnering capabilities; relationships with clients, project partners, stakeholders and the community; and delivery of growth.

William Girling Reservoir Willowstick investigation

The William Girling Reservoir is one of a number of structures that Atkins has reviewed for Thames Water’s Asset Management Programme. The reservoir’s earth embankment dam had suffered from failure during construction in 1937 and the remedial works played a fundamental role in development of modern soil mechanics.

Atkins was commissioned to assess sub-surface leakage flow paths within the embankment and used a specialist geophysical survey “Willowstick” – the largest us of its kind – to assess the 5.6km long embankment. According to Atkins, the survey created a baseline that will enable changes in the porosity to be tracked and added certainty to the assessment.  

Buro Happold
Bristol Arena

Buro Happold worked with Structural Soils to provide the ground investigation for development of Bristol Arena – a 12,000 seat multipurpose performance venue on the site of former railway sidings.

The complex topography around the site called for rope access surveying of the River Avon cliff, as well as boreholes adjacent to it, and another borehole within the A4 southbound carriageway. Horizontal coring through a masonry wall below the A4 was also undertaken to confirm the thickness of the wall and characterise the ground behind it. Optical Borehole Imager and Acoustic Borehole Imager geophysical methods were also used within the boreholes to assess the fractures in the strata.

The Broadway

CGL has delivered a detailed phased ground investigation of New Scotland Yard – the former headquarters of the Metropolitan Police – which is undergoing a £1bn redevelopment. A key objective of the work was to confirm the as built foundations.

The mixed use development will see the single storey basement extended to three levels and called for CGL to undertake boreholes both at ground level and within the existing basement, as well as beside the iconic revolving New Scotland Yard sign.

Dunelm Geotechnical and Environmental
Milburngate House, Durham

Redevelopment of an office building and multi storey car park on a former gasworks in Durham called for Dunelm Geotechnical and Environmental to carry out a ground investigation within the car park using low headroom rigs. As well as managing the risks associated with contamination from the former site use, there was also potential for shallow groundwater flooding within the basement that called for the use of specialist casing. Dunelm undertook boreholes to 55m depth despite the headroom and groundwater issues at the site.

Geotechnical Engineering and Story Contracting
Eden Brows landslide

Geotechnical Engineering and Story Contracting worked together to deliver a ground investigation into an active landslide for Network Rail. Ongoing ground movements at the site in Cumbria meant that a specialist slope climbing rig had to be rapidly mobilised for the work and borehole depths were extended while in progress to ensure enough data was gathered for the remediation design.

The site was steeply sloping which made access to the work site challenging and parts of it were designated as nature reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest, which complicated the work.

Opus International Consultants
Sinkhole in St Albans, Fontmell Close and Bridle Close

Opus International Consultants were appointed by Hertfordshire County Council to rapidly coordinate the ground investigation following a ground collapse due to a former Chalk mine close to residential properties in St Albans in late 2015. As the collapsed ground bridged both public and private land, Opus worked with the local authority and the home owners’ insurers to carry out the investigation and interpretative work.

Opus used observational techniques and lightweight equipment to carry out initial investigations to provide confidence on short-term ground stability to enable heavier investigation equipment to be used during the main phase of work.

Lowestoft flood risk management scheme

WYG undertook a multidisciplinary ground investigation around the docks at Lowestoft to provide data for design and construction of new flood defences that is likely to include a tidal barrier. The investigation used a combination of techniques including cone penetration tests, boreholes, trial pits and underwater surveys.

Land investigated under the scheme was owned by a number of different organisations and WYG had to liaise with the land owners to gain access and plan work around operations at each site to minimise the impact.

Ground Investigation Project of the Year (over £500k)

The Ground Investigation Project of the Year (over £500k) category rewards innovation and excellence in site investigation, surveying and monitoring for major projects. The judges were looking for evidence of project delivery; partnering capabilities; relationships with clients, project partners, stakeholders and the community; and delivery of growth.

Aecom, WSP and TFNSW
Sydney Metro and Southwest

Sydney Metro is Australia’s largest public transport project with 66km of route planned, which is due to open between 2019 and 2024. Aecom and WSP undertook the ground investigation for the City and Southwest section, which will include 15km of twin tunnels with seven stations and passes under Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The works included numerous land and marine cored boreholes, marine cone penetrometer tests, in situ testing, soil and rock laboratory testing and innovative marine sediment testing. An in-depth desk study and data sharing ahead of the field work allowed the investigation to be delivered for £3M, which Aecom describes as modest compared to the cost of the scheme.

Arcadis Consulting (UK)
Exeter to Newton Abbot Resilience Study Phase 1

Arcadis was commissioned by Network Rail to undertake a ground investigation on the railway line between Exeter and Newton Abbott to assess the resilience of the route.

The investigation included vertical and inclined boreholes, cliff face surveys and in-situ testing, as well as installation of monitoring equipment with remote data communication to overcome site access issues.

Bam Ritchies and WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff
East West Rail Phase 2 – Grip 3

East West Rail will re-establish a railway connecting East Anglia with central, southern and western England. Ground Investigation work undertaken by Bam Ritchies and WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, valued at £2M, was needed to enable design for renewal and reuse of existing earthworks and structures that were not wide enough to carry the planned twin tracks. In total the project assessed assets on 60km of track using a variety of techniques to undertake 878 exploratory holes and the fieldwork was delivered within 10 months.

Concept Engineering Consultants
One Nine Elms

Redevelopment of the site next to New Covent Garden flower market as mixed residential and five star hotel called for rapid input from Concept Engineering Consultants.

The new development will feature a double storey basement, formed by diaphragm walls, and will straddle a Thames Water Victorian-era sewer but unexpected ground conditions were encountered during the piling. Concept was brought in to review previous ground investigations and provide supplementary investigation before working with GCG to propose an alternative pile design.

Fugro, Nugen, Tractebel and Amec FW
Moorside Nuclear Power Station site characterisation

Nugen’s Moorside Nuclear Power Station has called for £20M of ground investigation work to be undertaken by Fugro with supervision delivered by Tractebel and environmental, radiological and ecological work delivered by Amec FW.

The ground investigation will inform the design and layout of Europe’s largest nuclear power station, as well as support licensing, planning applications and other consents for the development. The work included onshore and offshore geotechnical site investigation and seismic surveys, plus other topographical and bathymetric surveying.

RPS Consulting Services
HS2 ground investigation

RPS Consulting Services secured 12 work packages, valued at a total of £4M, for the ground investigation on the HS2 Phase 1 route between London and Birmingham. The scale of the work called for a focus on efficient data capture and good communication to manage changes to the scope while the work was underway.

The ground investigation packages required a variety of investigation techniques including rotary, wireline rotary, windowless sampling, sonic and cable percussive rigs. In addition the investigations included trial pitting, down hole geophysics (including acoustic, televiewer and gamma logging) and cone penetrometer testing.

Structural Soils, Atkins, Arup and Horizon Nuclear Power
Wyfla Newydd South Site onshore ground investigation

The South Site onshore ground investigation for the Wylfa Newydd nuclear power station supplements work undertaken in 2011 and 2014 and included a seismic hazard assessment. Structural Soils partnered with Arup and Atkins to deliver the investigation for Horizon Nuclear Power.

The work was undertaken to understand the risks posed by seismic activity, including ground rupture and the effect of the geological profile on ground motions. The work has enabled the 3D geological fault model for the site to be extended and provide seismic velocity profiles for the area.

United Utilities and Geotechnics
Castlerigg Tunnel on the Thirlmere Raw Water Aqueduct

Construction of the Castlerigg Tunnel will remove the need to construct a 7.5km cut open cut section and save six months on the programme to build the 26km Thirlmere Raw Water Aqueduct. The tunnel will be driven through mixed geology with cover of up to 60m so United Utilities commissioned Geotechnics to provide ground investigation data for the design.

Geotechnics undertook rotary drilling, seismic profiling, down hole acoustic imaging and high pressure lugeon testing, as well as other specialist rock testing.

Ground Investigation Specialist of the Year

Innovation and excellence in site investigation, surveying and monitoring is recognised by the Ground Investigation Specialist of the Year award. Entrants demonstrated successful project delivery; partnering capabilities; relationships with clients, project partners, stakeholders and the community; and delivery of growth.

Arcadis Consulting (UK)

Arcadis created Arcadis Fieldtech Solutions at the end of 2015 to deliver specialist ground investigation and remediation work with the objective of providing high quality outcome-based geoenvironmental contracting services. The business delivers work through a combination of in-house teams and specialist sub-contractors and operates out of hubs in Bristol, Guildford, Exeter, Birmingham, Cardiff, Newmarket, Manchester, Leeds and Warrington.

During 2016, the business reports that the typical size of projects is delivered increased from £300,000 to £1M and it now has 56 staff, having grown from 20 at the end of 2015.

Central Alliance

Central Alliance has undergone rapid growth in 2016 with revenues up 82% in the year to May 2016 and similar gains are expected to be recorded for the current financial year. The size and scale of work undertaken by the firm has grown with a number of major projects won in Scotland in the last 12 months and an expanding workload in other parts of the UK too.

The contractor is establishing a name for itself in undertaking ground investigations following major landslide on rail land and was involved in the work at Eden Brows in Cumbria and Harbury Cutting in Warwickshire.

Concept Engineering Consultants

According to Concept, 2016 was a remarkable year for the business with establishment of its first regional office in the Coventry and a doubling of its order book for the first two quarters of 2016/17 compared to the same period the year before. Staff numbers have also increased 20% compared to 2015.

Concept will celebrate 20 years of operation in 2017 and the company says that it has managed to maintain organic growth in the demanding and volatile market of ground investigation. The business believes that ti punches above its weight to deliver complex and technically challenging investigations with comparatively limited resources.


Fugro integrated four operating companies in 2015 to create Fugro Geoservices, which it believes makes it the UK’s biggest geotechnical specialist. The business now has over 500 staff delivering a range of land and marine investigation, survey and testing services that generated revenues of £80.4M in 2016, up from £58.5M in 2015.

One of the drivers of this growth was Fugro’s involvement in the ground investigation for Nugen’s Moorside nuclear power plant in Cumbria, which was valued at £20M and is the first stage of what is expected to be a decade long, £10bn project. Fugro has said that its UK team also played an active role on projects in Chile, Australia, Romania, France, Turkey and Dubai during the year.

Geotechnical Engineering

Geotechnical Engineering delivered a 25% increase in turnover in 2016 as a result of better use of resources and more efficient approaches to its workload. The company also reports that staff numbers grew last year in all departments to match investment in capital resources.

One project that the company believes demonstrates its capabilities is its involvement in the ground investigation into the deep-seated landslide at Eden Brows for Network Rail. The company was able to use experience gained on previous slope stability projects to deliver bespoke equipment and skilled staff to fast track the work.

RPS Consulting Services

RPS has been undertaking ground investigations for over 20 years and in 2016 revenue generated by it UK Site Investigation and Remediation Team grew by 35% to £8.9M while staff numbers increased 18% to 45. The team also established a base in RPS’s Birmingham office to support work delivered by its London, Bristol and Cardiff offices.

RPS believes that its growth over the last two years has established it as a leading provider of ground investigation services in the UK. The company is part of the framework undertaking ground investigation for HS2 and has, so far, secured 12 out of a possible 25 packages of work on the high speed rail link.

Structural Soils

Structural Soils expects to record a turnover of £19.5M this year compared to £17.6M recorded last year and it has increased staff numbers from 210 to 228 to support this growth. The company reports that the size and value of the contracts secured last year has increased with a shift from a high proportion of its work valued at less than £15,000 to a number valued at over £100,000.

To support the growth on site, Structural Soils opened a new geotechnical testing laboratory in Tonbridge in April last year and expanded its rock testing capability in its Bristol laboratory.

UK Geotechnical Team of the Year

This category is new for 2017 and celebrates the achievements of a geotechnical project team and candidates were required to demonstrate how a collaborative culture led to improved project delivery. Entrants were also asked to show that their performance exceeded expectation or its efforts boosted the rate of delivery.

Thames Tideway Tunnel Central Section

Aecom describes the geotechnical team it assembled for the Thames Tideway project in London as “high performing” as a result of its commitment to bring value and speed of delivery to the design work. The Aecom geotechnical team is working for contract joint venture partners Ferrovial Agroman and Laing O’Rourke as part of a larger consultancy deal that includes contaminated land, tunnels, marine engineering and hydraulics.

The Aecom geotechnics team has adopted a one team approach and works in the same office as its client, which has helped with streamlining of deliverables that met all the quality and programme

Requirements. According to Aecom, members of the team have received commendations from the client for going above and beyond expectations for the benefit of the project.

Fugro, Nugen, Tractebel and Amec FW
Moorside site characterisation team

The team was formed to deliver the site characterisation for the planned Moorside nuclear power plant in Cumbria and work together to undertake what is thought to be Europe’s biggest integrated geotechnical site investigation contract. The teamwork ensured the ground investigation was delivered Europe’s biggest integrated geotechnical site investigation contract.

The scale of the work called for over 100 staff from project partners to be on site during much of 2016 to undertake 300 onshore and offshore boreholes and collect 20,000 samples for analysis. The team believes that the strong partnership approach enabled the challenges of the work to be tackled efficiently.

QTS Group, Network Rail IP, Fairhurt and Cowi
RCDP Collaborative Works Scotland, Earthworks

The Renewals Collaborative Delivery Programme (RCDP) collaborative team for earthworks on Network Rail’s Scottish routes was formed in 2014 and has continually worked to strengthen the team. The RCDP team for Scotland is charged with the ongoing delivery of asset maintenance and renewals to improve asset resilience and reduce short and long term geotechnical risk from earthworks failures.

The project is essentially a full service geotechnical asset management and improvement scheme with QTS Group undertaking the role of delivery contractor with geotechnical design input from Cowi and Fairhurst. The team work has enabled improvements in volume delivery and efficiency to be delivered year in year with a focus on delivering value for money to Network Rail.

McAlpine Design Group

The Sir Robert McAlpine Design Group is a small team but it believes that the breadth of the designs it carries out is broader than any other consultancy because of the nature of the projects it works on. The team provides geotechnical advice on a wide range of projects from schools on the Isle of Wight to power stations in the north of England.

According to the group, it approaches every project with a can do attitude and is always looking to new techniques and concepts to provide solutions for the company’s site teams. The team also works proactively within the business to share lessons learnt and knowledge with other team.

United Utilities – AMP6 Capital Investment

United Utilities AMP6 Capital Investment team is charged with undertaking around £60M of improvements to dams and £20M of ground investigation each year. According to the company, the success of AMP6 relies on the engagement of its in house geotechnical team with embedded partners, specialist sole traders with specialist geotechnical and framework contractors.

United Utilities has said that the team has provided key support to AMP6, delivering on time and budget, supporting challenging new infrastructure and using innovative ground investigation techniques and a risk-based approach to assist the client with investment strategy.



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