Formation of Environmental Risks Insurance Services

ImageAnother Company that we were involved in founding was ERIS, Environmental Risks Insurance Services.  We had been aware for several years of the significant issues associated with brownfield sites, which as these became better known during the 1980’s and 1990’s started to slow, and then raise significant concerns for high value commercial property transactions.

Our MD teamed up with Roy Bays, who had retired from his exceptional career in the UK insurance industry, and a founder, in his own right of the Cork, Bays Fisher Insurance Group, a highly innovative business which developed the first real holiday insurance product.

The new insurance brokerage business established underwriting lines with AIG and Reliance Group, taking one of the first Environmental Impairment Liability policies into the marketplace.

It was an interesting adventure and whilst a number of successful policies were underwritten on behalf of clients during the mid  1990’s, there were insufficient Clients who understood the value of this type of insurance, to facilitate property transactions. 


This was in contract to the standard insurance against insurance risks in the marine environment, where specific policies underwritten by Lloyds Open Form had provided an insured contingency fund, for dealing with risks from fire, cargo contamination and oil pollution.


Formation of Bioscan UK Limited

Those were the days, back in 1984 when our Managing Director formed his first consultancy business.  Put together in a single one-bed flat in Covent Garden, the business was designed to provide a team of ecological specialists to carry out ecological surveys and wildlife recording in the UK.


In those days, we couldn’t even find a heading for environmental consultants in the telephone directory!  However the business initially found premises in Haslemere, Surrey and carried out some interesting projects in the early days, with some interesting formative work for the onshore oil exploration boom at the time, as well as work on the 1st Licensing Round for Offshore Oil Exploration.

The early work the Company developed was very much a case of convincing those engaged in greenfield development that they needed environmental expertise, provided at the outset by two of the founders, who had worked/and are also still working for English Nature (formerly the Nature Conservancy Council).

There were no mandatory requirements for EIAs on major developments at this time, and the novelty of engaging with commercial developers involved us in some interesting television coverage at the time.

The concept was obviously a good one, as Bioscan UK Limited is still running after 28 years…..

Start-up and MBO of Environmental Auditors Limited

In 1991, our senior consultant was asked to form an environmental consultancy business for Central and Provincial Management Ltd (CPM)., a wholly owned subsidiary of the London and Devonshire Trust Ltd.  

The environmental business sat alongside CPM’s commercial property management and surveying business formed earlier in 1984. The early venture into the environmental consultancy business was cleverly judged to piggyback on the 2000+ commercial and industrial properties managed by CPM for their Clients.

In 1993, the slump in the UK commercial property market provided an opportunity to carry out a MBO of the fledgling business, hardly two years old. This was incorporated and a new Board brought together a skilled team of NED’s, the Company going on the grow continually over the next decade, providing services in the UK and worldwide in environmental auditing; due diligence; contaminated land assessment; marine oil and chemical pollution and providing the platform from which a number of other ventures were founded.Image

These included ContamiCheck, later to be become the founding dataset for Groundsure Ltd., ERIS (Environmental Risk Insurance Services Ltd) and insurance brokerage providing Environmental Impairment Liability (EIL) Insurance and the Environmental Data Association.

Key officers of the Company went on to become senior directors in a number of leading environmental consultancy businesses throughout the United Kingdom.


Vauxhall Motors Dealership Manual

Our lead consultant had for several years being carrying out environmental due diligence audits for the many individual motor dealerships in the UK that were holders of a Vauxhall Motors dealership franchise.Image

Over several years of commercial property acquisitions and disposals it was noticed that many of the environmental liabilities that were affecting property values were associated with a range of operational and historical environmental problems common to many in the dealership network.

With over 400 UK dealerships at the time, we suggested to Vauxhall Motors Limited have a detailed waste management manual prepared which would identify all the typical and non-typical environmental issues that motor dealers might encounter and provide a robust guide as to how these could be handled. This included waste oils; WEEE; spray booth wastes; metal wastes; asbestos-containing wastes and batteries etc…Image

The whole spectrum of waste management issues were addressed, together with a detailed listing of trusted specialised waste contractors, equipment suppliers and assessment tools.  The subsequent manual was produced in 6 months after extensive research ad supplied to all Vauxhall Dealers together with a recommendation from the Company that the guidelines should be followed by their different dealers.

Assessing Contaminated Land Risk

In 2011 we were asked to carry out a review of the different levels of environmental risk associated with contaminated land spread across the UK.

This was an independent third party assessment task to support an existing land contamination classification system for a major player in the environmental sector.

We evaluated their current risk profile tools, then validated these against a number of specimen sites picked at random from around the United Kingdom, referencing are study back against our own databank of over 1000 UK contaminated sites and site investigation reports.

One of the UK’s largest contaminated land audits

Our pedigree with major projects has been established over more than 30 years in the environmental sector.

Our key Director was responsible for organising an audit of the contaminated land liabilities for the former British Alcan Aluminium reporting to the then CEO Paul Rata back in 1991/2. The survey project involved visiting 146 company owned or leased sites throughout the UK for this former, industrial metals-producing giant.

Never before had all the contingent liabilities associated with contaminated land in their estates portfolio been assessed, a job that took two years to accomplish and took in Alcan’s smelters at Lynemouth, Invergordon and Lochaber, the Burntisland bauxite processing plant and major aluminium pressing and rolling mills, stockholders and administrative properties.

This was at the cutting edge of environmental auditing techniques at the time, and extended to evaluations of contingent liabilities and environmental risks from numerous (formerly unregulated landfills) within the portfolio. This major audit programme was part of the British Alcan Aluminium divestment programme prior to the break up of the Company and subsequent successful sale of constituent parts.

Nationwide Incubator Recycling

In 2007, the Technical Director was approached to scope out an interesting and challenging project on behalf of Draeger Medical.

Dräeger Medical planned to sell existing customers (many hundreds of hospitals throughout the UK), their latest and most advanced baby incubators.  They were keen to ensure that the older or defunct Dräeger incubators these would replace were taken out of use and fully recycled.  This was an essential part of the sales programme, as the Client wished to ensure that these old incubators could not end up being sold and exported to parts of the world where they could not be guaranteed to be reliable and there might be serious implications for infants if these were brought back into illegal use, with consequential risk of reputational damage.


Our adviser developed a logistics programme for collecting the old/defunct incubators (without occupants!) from Lands End to John O’Groats. All incubators were certified sterilised prior to collection, and then individually logged into a tracking system based on their serial numbers. The logistics company ensured full audit control of the collection programme 2007-9, ensuring that the equipment reached the correct AATF (Accredited Authorised Treatment Facility) and individual units certified fully destroyed, then recycled with zero waste to landfill.

Over a thousand incubators were safely disposed of, without a single unit going astray, a significant challenge in the world of recycling.

Pyrolytic Waste Treatment Technology

Korean Pilot Plant

In 2008/9 the company’s lead consultant carried out an initial assessment of a new Cleantec pyrolytic waste process.  The project promoters had entered into early licensing negotiations for commercialisation rights for the innovative technology, which had been developed in South Korea.


The purpose of the review was to assess in broad terms whether the per tonne municipal waste treatment costs would make the technology attractive in the developing UK WtE sector. Using only publicly available sources of information, an initial market feasiblity study was carried out and comparisons made with a number of competitive WtE plants that were currently being planned or constructed in the UK, an initial marketing plan was provided to the project promoter. Additionally, commercial discussions were held with parties that had suitable sites and long term waste contracts that could provide the supply contracts for a new market entrant.

Corporate Start-up of Reco-Vie (Recycling) Limited

In 2005, a small group of partners were examining how they could exit from the company they were currently employed by and develop their own Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment (WEEE) business, with very low capital.

One of our Directors helped co-ordinate the exit from the former company and provide the corporate set up of the Company from offices in Surrey.  The launch of the new business was timed to co-incide with a major international campaign centred around this type of waste, the RSA WEEE Man Project.  Coupling the launch with that of the 27,000 membership base of the RSA gave unprecedented access to the media, a  resource the new company could not hope to have access to, and was ideal for raising public awareness nationally and internationally.

The Company quickly launched with a tailor-made book of B2B business negotiated as part of the exit agreement and access to the important Operators Licence (for running commercial HGVs) was secured through one parties ‘grandfather rights’, allowing the Company to have livery written vehicles on the road, within a month.

These and over activities meant the company had virtually immediate cash-flow, which successful grants were made to Waste resources Action Programme (WRAP) and further commercial lending secured.  Important trading accreditations ISO 9000 and ISO14000 were secured within the first years trading too!

Environmental Auditing

We have possibly over the years undertaken every possible type of environmental audit, comprising the typical corporate audits that can focus on compliance with national laws and regulations or internal environmental management systems such as ISO14000 through to single issue audits, for example liability assessment or waste minimisation audits.

Product auditing has also been undertaken providing ample evidence and life cycle assessment to determine the wider environmental implications of product manufacture,use and disposal.

Our principal consultant has been active for many years with audit development and the design of protocol, having recently

designed one for Gold Mining in Papua New Guinea and published widely on the subject.  Our experience covers over 1000 such audits throughout the world.