Environmental Information in the Digital Age – Royal Society of the Arts and Argyll Environmental Ltd – Brighton

This was a unique opportunity for Fellows to see at close quarters, the current developments that are taking place in the digital and creative space, which utilize cutting edge environmental data  FRSA Mark Hadley long time associate of Argyll Environmental invited Fellows to Argyll Environmentals offices in Central Brighton to see how some of the UK’s leading environmental databases had been harnessed by this innovative company to produce bespoke environmental reports for UK conveyancing professionals.

The proceedings were opened with a presentation from Chris Taylor Product Development Director for Argyll Environmental’s Parent Company Landmark Information Group who explained the vast range of data products being produced by the energetic, professional team based in Brighton. These reports cover environmental due diligence data to assist the property market and the public with key information on issues that might affect property – contaminated land, flood risks, development risks, restrictive designations, the location of pollution incidents etc.

We were then treated to a gallop through two presentations by Ben Furlong and Jez Nicholson using PechaKucha techniques to deliver their presentations on UK Flood Risk developments, and how UK Infrastructure developments such as HighSpeed2 might affect our environment.

All this was amply aided and abetted by local wine specialists Henry Butler owner of Butlers Wine Cellar, a local Brighton specialist who ensured fellows had his own unique view on how to explore the refreshment break.

The meeting followed up with a short film that looked at how the world for business and society might look in 2018,challenged by the ever growing issues surrounding climate change, resource depletion and over-population.

Time for a break, so Fellows, and local invitees including Tom Wellings of Emotive Systems, CEO Kay Phillips and Mike Hobbs of Hobbs Law turned up for a look at what was being discussed.  There were more entrepreneurs in the room than you could shake a stick at, luckily we had Chair of the Fellowship Council Irene Campbell to keep us all in check.

Our thanks to AEL and Landmark Group for making this a stimulating and thought provoking event, and for the eclectic mixture of RSA Fellows and camp followers to contributed to the success of the event.

Earthquake Asbestos Contamination Risk

On the 4th September 2010 a massive earthquake caused substantial damage throughout the city of Christchurch, New Zealand including substantial loss of life.


The aftermath of such events can have long-standing impacts that are not immediately apparent at the time, or shortly after the event.  When the earthquake came, it demolished domestic and commercial buildings alike, many of which contained asbestos.  Asbestos has been widely used in New Zealand in many buildings and therefore it was a sure bet there was some in the 8,000,000 tonnes of building rubble which resulted from the quake.

ISIS carried out an investigation which reviewed asbestos use in NZ, then using rudimentary data that was available compared this with the typical amounts of asbestos that were released by the collapse of the World Trade Centre on 9/11/2001, which equated to approximately 400 tonnes of asbestos, in 1.5-2.0 million tonnes of building rubble.

The Christchurch wastes are in process of being systematically removed to a landfill at Bottle Lake, Christchurch for safe disposal. Our 2012 study looked at the risks from the release of airborne asbestos fibres based on comparable studies and the potential impact of this in the areas surrounding the landfill and transport routes.

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.


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.