Thursday, 3 December 2015

Paris 2015 COP21 – What do we order and how do we split the bill?

Aims for an Agreement

Between November 30th and December 11th the governments of over 190 nations will descend on Paris for the 21st United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP21). The aim of the Conference is to deliver a first ever universal climate agreement to limit global warming to 2°C and replace the existing agreements which expire in 2020.

ACT 2015, a consortium of the world’s top climate experts has developed a list of 3 key ingredients of the COP21 Paris Agreement:

  1. Set long-term goals for mitigation and adaptation to help the world cope with climate impacts and phase out greenhouse gas emissions, as early as possible in the second half of the century.
  2. Ensure countries are transparent and accountable for their climate action commitments, through a process that regularly evaluates their progress.
  3. Put in place a process for countries to regularly increase their climate efforts on mitigation and adaptation, along with scaled up finance, capacity building and technology transfer, in a timely way - at least once every five years starting in 2020.
Progress so far

The world is already taking steps towards a low carbon future, investment in renewables and sustainable technologies are on the rise with the cost of solar panels dropping by around 70% since 2009 offering a beacon of hope for a clean, affordable energy future. More and more companies are taking action and making investments to prepare for the transition to a low carbon economy and we have seen companies that act on climate change outperforming their non-acting counterparts in terms of profitability (CDP).

There is a growing groundswell of support for climate change action through groups such as Greenpeace and; in 2014 over 300,000 people took to the streets of New York to demand action from their leaders on climate change, with a similar number marching in 161 other countries and there are Climate Marches planned around the world on the eve of COP21.

(Photo credit: Greenpeace Finland)

A record number of countries (over 170) have submitted their national plans and targets to deal with climate change; however, in a report commissioned by Oxfam experts estimate that these commitments will only limit global warming to between 2.7 and 3°C. The extra 1°C beyond 2°C increases developing countries costs of adaptation by about $270bn a year by 2050 and deals a further $600bn of annual economic losses, illustrating the urgent need for an agreement in Paris: We are at a tipping point where companies and countries need a strong guiding hand and clarity of support for a low carbon future through a binding universal agreement.

One of the biggest indications of this tipping point occurred in 2014 when the Rockefeller Brother Fund announced it was withdrawing from investing in the fossil fuel industry, removing approximately $50bn of funding in total. This marked the beginning of private investors and large companies shying away from polluting industries and has led to calls for more funds and large investors to follow suit. We now require bold steps from our national leaders to deliver the agreement we all need.

Paying for past sins

While it is generally agreed that rich countries will need to help poorer nations to mitigate and adapt to climate change, there is a call for more to be done. Less developed countries believe that historical emissions should be factored in at a greater level when determining who needs to pay for climate change adaptation and mitigation. They resent the way that developed countries have benefited from uncapped emissions since the beginning of the industrial revolution to deliver improved quality of life and economic growth while less developed countries will have to improve quality of life and their economies in a more costly, although sustainable, way under the terms of a climate change agreement.

The negotiations in Paris will largely concentrate on how much money the rich nations pay to the poorer ones to help them adapt to the effects of global warming and to help finance the transition from fossil fuels to green energy. This is of great importance in light of the recent economic downturn and the Oxfam commissioned report which forecasts that global warming is on course to cost developing countries $2.5 trillion dollars (£1.65 trillion) a year in total by 2050.

An international Green Climate Fund has been set up with the aim of mobilising $100bn per year from developed countries by 2020 to help less developed countries to fund climate change and mitigation. As of November 2015 $10.2bn has been pledged; showing how the full amount will be delivered is another key outcome for COP21.

Delivering an agreement

The need for action is clear; 2011-2015 has been the warmest five-year period on record, due to a combination of climate change and a strong El Nino event with significant, fatal heatwaves across many parts of the world being made more likely due to climate change. 2015 itself is set to be a record breaking year: the first to pass the symbolic milestone of 1°C above pre-industrial levels and the first to see atmospheric CO2 concentrations over 400 parts per million, it would be fitting for such an important agreement on climate change to be made in the same year.

The ingredients and the need are all in place for a landmark agreement to be reached and deliver hope for a low carbon future, let’s hope this opportunity is seized by the decision makers with both hands. As Laurent Fabius, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development said: "there is no plan b because there is no planet b".

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Testing the IQ of our City: Test 1 - Transport in London

Greg Yiangou - Consultant

With millions of people depending on London's transport network, just how ‘smart’ is it? Comparisons are often drawn between Singapore’s tube network or the ease of cycling in Amsterdam, but every city faces its own pressures, needs and challenges.

London has built an extensive, well developed network that runs throughout the city, moving millions of people every day whilst representing a sense of identity that is unique to the city. Red busses and black cabs are synonymous with London and can be recognised all over the world. But as London’s population rapidly grows, these networks are quickly reaching full capacity, with commuters feeling the effects. Frustration grows as the quality of public transport services often does not reflect the increasing costs commuters have to pay. 

‘London Underground’

If you were to ask Londoners what they thought of the Underground, many of the responses will be influenced by the recent tube strikes across the entire network, which at times brought the city to its knees. They will point to the daily struggle they face to squeeze onto a Northern Line train at 8am. The image of commuters packing onto full tubes, narrowly missing the closing doors is all too common during the morning and evening commutes.

London Underground handles 24.3 million passenger journeys every week, with 1.2 billion journeys made in 2014. With London’s population expected to top 10 million by 2030, there is no doubt the stress on the underground system will increase. We expect a delay free service but realistically it is not yet possible; the system is operating intensively at capacity and a single interruption can quickly create a domino effect of delays and congestion.

Much of the growth in London will be seen in the suburbs, with commuters still travelling into the city to work. Projects are under-way to manage this growth, Crossrail being the largest. It is expected to become operational by 2018, increasing London’s rail-based capacity by 10%. But why stop there? The construction of Crossrail 2 is looking increasingly likely.

But there is no denying that these large infrastructure projects cost a lot of money. Is there a more affordable solution? How can we increase capacity? Would automating the tube improve the traveller’s experience? Should we be easing the pressure on the tube by making other modes of transport in the city more attractive?

When we think about Smart we often think about technology but Smart Solutions are about better understanding our infrastructure and utilising it in more efficient and often more joined up ways. A Smart transport network should facilitate the easy and efficient transition across various modes of transport. TfL has started to think about rail as a supplementary link to the Tube. They recently took control of the West Anglia route that runs from Liverpool Street to north & east London and as far as Cheshunt, with the line now running under a concession as opposed to a complex rail franchise, resulting in more trains, refurbished stations and an increased capacity.

But why not Cycle?

Vast numbers of commuters are braving the roads instead of facing the tube. Cycle use grew by 10% in London over 2014 and is expected to grow by a further 12% this year. 2014 also saw a record number of ‘Boris Bikes’ hired from London’s cycle hire scheme, with more than 10 million journeys made. But why are commuters taking to the streets? Is London’s cycle network getting smarter or are these commuters just fed up of being squashed against a tube door? 

I think the increase is currently a result of ‘push’ factors as opposed to a smart and safe cycle network. Overcrowding on the tubes, increased costs of public transport and the high levels of road congestion are making cycling a more attractive option in the city. 

TfL’s bike sharing scheme, coupled with an extensive network of docking stations has fuelled this growth in cycling. Technology is also playing its part; smart apps that provide real-time information on their availability and efficient cycle routes are available, but not enough has been done to date to improve the safety of cycling which still accounts for 20% of road casualties in London.

It is clear that cycling is becoming an integral part of London’s transport network however, reflected by its level of investment. The Greater London Authority’s Vision for Cycling outlines plans for a £913 million programme to improve the cycling infrastructure and safety for cyclists. This includes the flagship development of the east to west super cycle highway.

Congested Roads

London undoubtedly loses IQ points for its congested and polluted roads. Many areas within the city are failing to meet the EU safe air quality standards and with manufacturers such as VW cheating their emission tests, we can see why progress has not been as strong as expected. This problem is captured by the fact that Oxford Street, one of Europe’s most famous roads, is now considered one of Europe’s most polluted roads. A recent study by King’s College London (commissioned by the GLA) has put a very human figure to this problem and estimates that air quality is annually responsible for approximately 9,500 premature deaths in London. The seriousness of this problem cannot be overlooked; London was named the most congested city in Europe last August, with motorists spending on average 4 days per year in traffic. 

There are alternatives; despite the controversy surrounding its use, Uber is seamlessly connecting commuters to drivers, rivalling London’s Black Cabs. Car clubs, such as Zipcar, are providing ‘wheels when you want them’ and not wheels parked on the street for 90% of the time and TfL are now operating a number of Hydrogen Buses in the city. I suppose the key question is why does anyone need to drive in central London? Is the complete restriction of public petrol or diesel vehicles in busy, central parts of London really such a radical solution when we have one of the best public transport networks in the world?

Open Data

One area of the transport sector that London is leading on, and definitely worth mentioning, is the availability of open data, which is encouraging the creation of innovative ways of presenting, visualising and using data to improve the commuting experience. A classic example is the popular Citymapper app, now a global journey planning application, originally designed in London. It brings together real-time route data for various modes of transport to provide users with the real-time information they need to make the best travel decisions. This is just one example of many and as access to data increases, we are likely to see more and more advancements; just look at the London Data Store.

There are clearly a lot of problems with London’s transport network, but the city is definitely moving in the right direction. The Smart London Plan recognises there is a need to understand how these smart technical solutions and services can help improve the management of London’s transport networks. We are going to be seeing big changes in our transport network over the coming years. Hopefully they allow us to enjoy a stress free, spacious and healthy commute in the mornings, but only time will tell. 

Next Blog: Testing the IQ of our City - Test 2: Digital London 

Friday, 7 August 2015

Norton Bridge

Robert Slatcher - Principal Consultant

In my first few months as a new graduate (now a sadly receding memory) one of the things that stood out was the leaving speech given by a highways engineer to mark his retirement after 40 years with the company. In his speech he mentioned his biggest regret in his career was a bypass scheme in the north of England, which he worked on as his first job when he joined the company, then subsequently reworked several times over when it sprung back to life as it became the political flavour of the moment and was at that very moment handing it over to someone else as it had landed back on his desk.

Sadly as consultants it is all too common to put blood, sweat and tears into a project that never makes it off the table and I am sure many of you have similar tales of deadlines and work streams that absolutely had to be completed by the first week after Christmas, only to see it now gather dust on a shelf somewhere.

So it was great to hear that the Norton Bridge Grade Separation Project, for which I led the EIA, was granted a Development Consent Order back in 2014 and was now just past the mid-point of construction. Recently I was fortunate enough to be given a guided tour of the site, a fantastic opportunity to see how all of those endless engineering plans I spent hours reviewing during the design phase translated on the ground.

The Norton Bridge scheme was the fourth Network Rail scheme to be granted a Development Consent Order, the consenting mechanism for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) under the Infrastructure Planning Act (A previous article I authored gives some of the background to the consent process for new railways link).
 Completed cutting ready for the installation of the trackbed and rail infrastructure
The project sought to resolve the last major bottleneck on the West Coast Main Line at Norton Bridge Junction by avoiding slow trains crossing the path of fast trains by creating a grade separation of the tracks at this location. The scheme itself required significant infrastructure and construction works which include three major pipeline diversions, 10km of new double track railway, a major highway diversion, twelve new bridges and four watercourse diversions.
In addition to the successful delivery of the Environmental Statement to support the consent application, Temple also provided significant input in to the development of the scheme design. The design phase of the scheme was awarded the highest ever interim CEEQUAL score of 97.4%, with the majority of scheme design highlights cited by CEEQUAL being items delivered by Temple (
When arriving on site the first thing that stood out was how well set up the site compound was. The car park and site offices were on a par with a permanent office development and not that of a construction site. I think when stakeholders imagine a site compound they may well picture a muddy patch of ground, a portacabin on its last legs and some scattered skips. When in reality for a modern construction site this could not be further from the truth. This sense of order was a theme that continued throughout the site.
Parallel rail and road overbridges over the diverted channel of the Meece Brook

At the time of the visit all of the bridge structures and associated watercourse diversions had been completed and earthworks were approximately 50% complete. The work that remained included the highway diversion, the remaining earthworks and the installation of the track infrastructure. The construction process had been progressing well and was a year ahead of programme.

To support the Environmental Statement Temple prepared a draft Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) to form the link between the assessment and construction phases and to demonstrate the mechanism by which the mitigation identified through the EIA would be implemented. When speaking to one of the construction environmental management team it was satisfying to hear that the CEMP had successfully transitioned to the construction phase and had been continually updated and used to manage a range of issues on site.

One of the major issues Temple had to manage during the single option design and EIA phase was the sheer variety of ecology on site. A comprehensive range of ecological mitigation measures were required which consisted of a combination of design mitigation embedded in the scheme, construction mitigation delivered through the CEMP and ecological enhancements. A team of ecologists have been present on site throughout the construction phase in order to monitor and implement the various stages of mitigation.

A purpose built nature reserve was created at a local conference centre and retreat to enable the translocation of animals from construction areas prior to the commencement of works. Our site visit finished off with a quick visit to the reserve to see how it had established. Given the relatively short period since it was constructed the site seemed like it had been there for many years. It was certainly a pleasant spot to relax so it was understandable why the retreat were happy to be the recipients of the reserve. 

Nature reserve constructed by the project to act as a translocation site

From a personal perspective the visit was extremely useful to gain an appreciation of the scale and logistics related to a major infrastructure project in construction. I think that for individuals undertaking EIAs the ability to experience at first hand a construction site is hugely beneficial and provides the background knowledge that can translate directly through to the assessment of construction impact.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Inspiration for Temple’s EMS Committee taken from Paris COP21

Ellie Holderness - EIA Intern

Temple’s EMS Committee is an employee led group that meets regularly to discuss the environmental performance of the company and to identify events and schemes that could be embedded at Temple in order to promote environmental improvements and good practices for both the company and personal behaviour. Each year the group identifies a series of local, national and international environmental events, around which they can co-ordinate their efforts and this year the EMS Committee has chosen to focus on Paris COP21 

What is COP21?

Between November 30th and December 11th, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be running the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties; otherwise known as Paris COP21. The UNFCCC is one of the three conventions that were established at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 and is comprised of 196 member states that meet annually as the Conference of Parties (COP) to determine future goals for tackling climate change. Outcomes from previous conventions include the Kyoto Protocol and the Cancun Agreements. This year’s conference will be vital as it intends to reach a decision regarding a legally-binding, international agreement that will curb additional climate change and deal with its impacts. For the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, the conference aims to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.

In order to help combat climate change in this way, the agreement must focus primarily on mitigation and the transformation to a low-carbon society. The agreement also wishes to raise $100 Billion per year from the donations of developed countries in order to help poorer countries develop in a sustainable manner. Alongside Paris COP21, the French Government has been inundated with requests to support projects and initiatives that are civilian-led. The initiatives cover a wide array of activities that all centre on one thing: the exchange of knowledge. Examples of these projects include the Global Eco-Forum (22nd October) and COP IN MYCITY, a programme that simulates climate negotiations with students in order to draw them in to the approaching conference. The Global Eco-Forum is a 2-day event that will focus on the relationship between energy, climate and cities. Currently 75% of global carbon emissions are produced by urban areas, therefore mitigation strategies are urgently needed in the developed world. Such outcomes from the Eco-Forum will be taken forward to Paris COP21.

What is Temple doing? 

Temple has committed to developing as a low carbon business and in support of that the EMS committee will be arranging a number of climate and low-carbon themed activities in the lead up to COP21. In the spirit of COP IN MYCITY, we already have a local primary school talk in the pipeline. We will be taking over the company’s monthly social events with low carbon themes and we are currently analysing employee commuting so that employees can find out how much carbon they emit getting to and from work. Each month the committee will be identifying new initiatives and hopes that actions such as these will prompt the consideration of how our day-to-day activities affect the climate and energise people into taking action to reduce our impacts. 

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Airport Commission recommends 3rd Runway at Heathrow – hear Sir Howard Davies at Runways UK on Monday (6 July)

Rob Whittle - Business Development & Marketing Director

The Airports Commission has published its long-awaited Final Report recommending a 3rd Runway at Heathrow . Your first chance to hear directly from Sir Howard, and to hear the reaction from key stakeholder groups, will be on 6/7th July at Runways UK 2015 taking place at the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel in London. Temple is a key sponsor to RunwaysUK and we’d be pleased to see you at the event - bookings are on line.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Sir Howard Davies presents at Runways UK Monday (6 July)

Rob Whittle - Business Development & Marketing Director

The Airports Commission will publish its long-awaited Final Report this week. Your first chance to hear directly from Sir Howard, and to hear the reaction from key stakeholder groups, will be on 6/7th July at RunwaysUK 2015 taking place at the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel in London. Temple is a key sponsor to Runways UK and we’d be pleased to see you at the event. Bookings are on line.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Temple’s take on Green Sky Thinking week

This year a team of Temple staff attended Open City’s Green Sky Thinking; a week-long London-wide events programme, which focuses on how sustainability can be embedded into the built environment. Unlike like other industry events, the festival consists of informal presentations, as well as on-site project talks, an aspect which is very attractive to Temple. Green Sky Thinking attracts key players from the sustainability industry, including; Crossrail, Bam Ferrovial Kier Joint, Innovate UK, Arup, PRP, Skanska, BuroHappold, plus many more.

A large number of our clients hosted events, so it was also a chance to reflect on how Temple is also playing a part in creating a more liveable London, as well as to help generate ideas internally on what else we can be doing. Temple hope to run our own Green Sky Thinking event next year.

To find out more about Temple visit our website here.

Engineering the Future; BuroHappold Engineering

Greg Yiangou

“The event showcased
10 different innovative projects that aim to address the challenges created by the rapid urbanisation of London. These projects focused on a wide variety of problems that cities all over the world will be facing, from stress on existing transport networks to health care systems. For me this was the most exciting thing about the talk – they demonstrated how digital technologies and open data have the potential to adapt and solve problems cities are facing across a wide range of sectors”.

Toby Wastling Senior Consultant

“This event was interesting at it gave attendees the opportunity to see the Crossrail Farringdon Station site and appreciate the scale of the development. As part of the Crossrail project spoil is being put to beneficial use by being used for a bird sanctuary at Wallasea island. The event also demonstrated the challenges of the project, including the number of unknowns that continue to provide challenges in London construction – underground structures, archaeology, lack of information on utilities to name but a few!”.

Toby Wastling Senior Consultant

“Interesting session to understand how sustainability issues learnt from Crossrail can be taken forward into future projects i.e. Crossrail 2, HS2, Thames Tideway Tunnel. The event discussed the idea of cement free concrete, which is currently being developed. Though innovation has been carried out this is limited due to the lack of knowledge about process – will it be able to support the infrastructure for 120 years?”.

Toby Wastling Senior Consultant

“A real discussion about how architects and engineers can increase sustainability in construction. Part of the solution will be down to the newly qualified professionals who have been educated in sustainability from an early age”.

Amy Cook Senior Consultant

"I found PRP’s ‘Overheating’ session the most exciting Green Sky Thinking event. Something that is becoming a more prominent theme in regeneration schemes is the idea of ‘community resilience’; It is one thing to ‘build’ resilience into new infrastructure or development for example by using low carbon materials which can withstand higher temperatures or, altering the aspect of dwellings so that their rooms do not receive prolonged hours of direct sunlight. However, to consider climate change within the context of an existing vulnerable community and how its support network may adapt, is a relatively new concept and are a far more difficult notion to incorporate into design.

The event discussed work which has been carried out to understand patterns of behaviour of local communities – is there infrastructure or a support network in place for vulnerable people? An example given was on ventilation: an elderly resident of a care home may not be able to reach to open a window if they’re too hot – is there a support network to ensure they don’t suffer from overheating?".

Erica Ward Senior Consultant

“I attended the ‘Healthy Cities, A Wake up Call’ event hosted by LUC. The most interesting thing I learnt was that although there is a lot of buzz in the industry about getting funding for green infrastructure (due to proven health benefits) from health budgets, this may be more difficult to implement practically. Most health funding is for clinical commissioning and there are much more limited budgets within public health, where this type of funding would come from”.

Green Sky Thinking week

Terry O’Neill Account Director

"For me the overriding impression I took in attending 8 of the Green Sky Thinking events was the passion and urgency which all of the speakers communicated. They (and we along with them) understand the opportunity now available to us to embed sustainability into the agenda for infrastructure and development. The timing for this should not be underestimated and full advantage should be taken where possible".

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Can cycling superhighways give wider benefits?

Martin Gibson - Head of Operations

This month, Boris Johnson launched the start of construction of London’s new North-South segregated cycling superhighway. The route will run from King’s Cross to Elephant and Castle and is part of a package of measures that is hoped to further boost cycling in London. It will be followed fairly soon by a new East-West Superhighway from Tower Hill to Westbourne Terrace. The new routes will extend the superhighway network into and across central London.

A lot of other cities are also trying to dramatically increase cycling. Manchester is looking to develop cycling along the Oxford Road, closing it to car traffic. Edinburgh is trialling a segregated cycle lane along George Street. Cambridge is putting in segregated cycling lanes on key routes.

One of the reasons for increasing cycling is to drive environmental improvements, especially in air quality. Transport for London published its Environmental Evaluation Report for the new cycle superhighways in January. This predicts route wide benefits and no adverse route wide effects. The report shows that there will be both positive and negative local environmental impacts from the proposed new cycle superhighways. The positive effects considerably outweigh the negative effects, with air quality and noise due to improve in a number of locations.

The study behind the report shows that changes in traffic will re-distribute vehicle emissions but will not increase overall emission levels. It does not mention the possibility of an overall reduction in emissions on a wider scale. However, work in the late 1990’s showed that reducing road capacity can sometimes lead to traffic effectively disappearing. If this were to happen, then the cycle routes should lead to a wider improvement in air quality.

From the scale of highway capacity reduction that the new cycle superhighways will produce, it seems possible that traffic could reduce. If it does, this should lead to improvements in air quality and reductions in noise that are significant enough to be considered more than just local. If evidence emerges that there are wider air quality benefits, it should provide more impetus for innovative projects that are currently on only at the concept phase. In London alone, these include a Norman Foster’s sky cycle, the London Underline and the Floating Track on the Thames.

It may be hard to disaggregate the effect that the segregated cycle highways will have on London’s environment but it will be important to see if air quality improves when they are completed.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Housing policies too ‘personal’ to feature heavily in top parties’ campaigns?

Amy Cook - Senior Consultant & Genevieve Oller - Senior Marketing Executive

As the parties prepare to go head-to-head in the 2015 General Elections, housing policy may be a means of leveraging votes, but, to what extent will their agendas actually have a noticeable impact on the housing sector? Temple attended a fantastic event organised by PRP, which asked ‘what does the General Election 2015 mean for the housing industry?’.

The opening speaker Mike Craven (Lexington Partner and former Chief Media Spokesman for the Labour Party) spent time exploring the unprecedented nature of this election due to the uncertainty of which political party may hold the majority. As the smaller parties such as UKIP and the Greens have started to gain strength in some of the traditional strongholds of the ‘big three’, precious votes which could win a majority for Labour or the Conservatives are being lost.

Due to this uncertainty there’s not likely to be bold stance on issues such as housing, on account of a reluctance to alienate any of their current supporters. Steve Akehurst, Public Affairs Officer at Shelter, suggested that housing is such a ‘personal’ issue that it can often be highly controversial. Indeed the parties policies are notably similar; Labour have set their target at 200,000 new homes in the next term, with Conservatives planning for a similar level and Liberal Democrats at 300,000. All parties also recognise the need for more affordable housing and protection of the greenbelt. However, it was concluded that housing would be more prominent in the campaigns now than it was back in 2005. Voters will be expecting the parties to set out policies that will help relieve the pressure of a market which is struggling to meet demand. In particular we could see polices that attract the votes of 20/30 year olds with young families who are unable to move out of the parental home.

Steve Akehurst also suggested that parties are unlikely to set out strong policies in the run up to the election, as these kinds of policies are unlikely to swing their campaigns. The speaker also felt that the next term in Government would not see such radical change to the planning system, such as the NPPF which is now bedding down quite well.

The uncertainty of the current political climate brought into question whether there should be an ‘Independent Committee’ set up to champion these large new housing development schemes – urban extensions; new garden cities – to ensure that there is a long-term driver towards building new homes outside of political time-scales.

Temple's Peter Cole (Principal Consultant) discusses Temple's take on what's needed from future housing policies; 

"The dichotomy that the Conservative Party is currently grappling with in terms of new housing is one that I think the UK as a whole has to wake up to. Building solely on brownfield sites is not going to solve our housing shortage and the uneasy co-existence of house building/buying incentives and greenbelt protection is only going to get more complicated. Our role as environmental planners and sustainability practitioners is to make those hard choices slightly easier for everyone to live with...."

Friday, 20 February 2015

Engineering the best environment for partnership

Giulia Civello - Senior Consultant & Carole Quinn - Consultant

Key to the delivery of a successful infrastructure project is an effective working partnership between engineers and environmental consultants. A successful relationship between these two parties provides benefits throughout the project lifecycle and ultimately results in the delivery of a better project for less cost.

Temple Group’s experience on major infrastructure projects has highlighted three key areas which are integral to a successful partnership between environmental consultants and engineers:

  • effective communication;
  • a bespoke team set up; and
  • clearly defined deliverables embedded within an integrated programme.

Combining these factors enables environmental consultants and engineers to form a productive partnership, striking a balance between finding an effective environmental outcome without entailing excessive cost or compromising design feasibility.

Benefits include the development of a more robust design which can withstand challenge, facilitate the gaining of consents, decrease development and capital costs and deliver a project with a reduced environmental impact.

Many of the key factors in realising these benefits have been learnt through Temple Group’s role on major infrastructure projects, including HS2 and the Norton Bridge Scheme, which was the subject of a Development Consent Order application.

Effective communication

Typically, tensions between engineers and environmental consultants result from physical working barriers. The need to react quickly to client demands can often result in a lack of consultation with the environmental team. Co-location breaks down these barriers, creating a cohesive, integrated team who understand each other’s working processes and decision making structure. It promotes clear and efficient communication, which enables a more rapid response to be provided to the client.

Close collaborative working between the two teams facilitates an iterative design process and prevents the development of design options which are not feasible from either an engineering or environmental perspective. A proactive rather than reactive working relationship enables the teams to work together to produce an optimal solution from the outset, rather than providing comment retrospectively which incurs additional time and cost.

Team set up

A dedicated engineering liaison team within the environmental team provides a clear point of contact for the project engineers and controls the flow of information. This also ensures that the engineering / environment interface is clearly visible to the client, something which can be lacking on projects where both engineering and environmental services are provided by a large multidisciplinary firm. This interface provides an important opportunity to critically review and challenge engineering designs ensuring a robust project in the event of challenge.

Multidisciplinary workshops are an important tool to facilitate an integrated approach to design, bringing together environmental and engineering expertise. Workshops are particularly important for the development of mitigation, ensuring that environmental measures are developed in the context of engineering constraints and requirements, and thereby preventing abortive work and additional costs.

“Differing perspectives, opinions and ways of doing things, don’t have to be seen as a negative; it can be the driver for improved performance, the push to go beyond the norm and can be the difference between a good and a great project.” Robert Slatcher, Temple Group

Clearly defining deliverables

It is critical to the success of a project that deliverables are fit for their intended purpose. For the environmental consultant, this is most likely the Environmental Impact Assessment. In order to ensure that deliverables are fit for purpose, they must be clearly defined and agreed by all key parties and the client at project inception. This shared understanding should include elements such as the delivery date, and also the deliverable format. A commonly encountered example which covers both these issues is GIS shapefiles versus engineering CAD files. While the engineering design is often held within a CAD model, the environmental topic teams are dependent on GIS shapefiles to complete their assessment. The conversion between CAD and GIS is not an instantaneous process and requires rigorous checking to ensure that the GIS outputs accurately align with the CAD model. Any agreed delivery dates of an engineering design to environmental assessment teams must therefore build in time for this conversion and quality checking to take place.

This example highlights the importance of mutual understanding between the engineering and environment teams as to the end use of their deliverables, something that is greatly improved through an integrated, co-located team.

The delivery of a robust design on time and on budget is ultimately dependent on inputs being received in good time ahead of a design freeze and the careful sequencing of workstreams across the engineering and environment teams. Therefore, an integrated programme which reflects the interaction between engineering and environment is fundamental to project delivery.

“There will always be a balance between engineering, cost, societal benefit / impact and environmental protection – that is in essence what sustainable development is all about! But as long as each of these factors is given due consideration and dealt in a constructive and professional way, then it will be for the good of the scheme.” Tom Smeeton, Temple Group

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

MIPIM 2015 - The ‘F’ Words

James While - Account Director

If you’re anything like me, by now you’ve told your colleagues that you’re one of the chosen few to represent your company's interests at MIPIM.

And, continuing the assumption, you’ll have had a mixed response from said colleagues, from the green eyed jealousy of the unchosen many to the cynicism of those that simply see it as a jolly, to the few that consider it an essential networking tool for the business planning cycle.

The success of your trip is down to YOU. Nobody else. Assuming it’s in your hands, then I reckon you can manage your own success. And here’s how:


There are three elements here. Agreeing what success looks like and plugging that vision into the key business drivers of your organisation.

  • Sit down with your colleagues. Ask THEM what, in their view, would aid their commercial imperatives? Which of their key accounts and projects are attending and what value (or potential damage) would a MIPIM hook-up have?
  • The key here is to get your colleagues to tell you what they and the business needs. Once you’ve expressed and defined those KPIs back, you have no excuse for not doing your damnest to deliver them.
  • Make sure you’ve trawled the databases to know which of your key targets are going. And, think about what you’re going to say that’s going to be memorable once you deliver that dreaded elevator pitch in CafĂ© Roma.


The second of our F words describes your doing mode once there. As with everything in life this is not a binary thing; I believe that a diary can be over managed and it’s worth thinking that a stable foundation needs intermittent, not continuous support.

It’s my belief that you should have 70% of your MIPIM activities as pre-arranged focal points. If you try to plan further than this then you will miss organic opportunities that may arise ‘out in the field’ and you will become frustrated that some of the ‘bankers’ you’d pre-arranged need to be moved and you’ve no space to move them to.

Free forming:

That 30% of free time is key. You will meet people you've not seen for years or you’ll meet new people that have something real and tangible to offer.

Leave space to accommodate these. It also allows a degree of mental peaking and troughing. You cannot, by definition, focus for 14  hours a day. Having pauses in your workload will allow a natural breathing space for relationships, that may not otherwise have happened, to blossom.


How many people have you seen come back from MIPIM with more cards than Paperchase littered across their desks and no clue as to how to manage them?

It’s an absolute truism to say MIPIM really starts once you’ve left. 

The reason for this is simple - this is when you start ‘doing stuff’- making contact, moving ideas, collaborations, developments forward.

When you get back there are two key stages to your follow-ups;

The Wash Up: Go back to the Foundation. Look at the KPIs you and your colleagues agreed and give them back each and every point with your activity and success therein related. Then, decide the strategy to deliver the outcome; a visit, a meeting, a presentation, a financial model.

Out There: As quickly as you can, seize the momentum you’ve created. Get on the phone, drive through your agreed meetings and your agreed initiatives.

Make sure it happens. Because the only person that can do that is YOU.