No gaps or cracks in Bluewater Shopping Centre
When it was built in 1999, the Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent, UK, was the second largest in Europe. Currently, it houses more than 360 shops and restaurants and accommodates almost 30 million visitors a year. Multinational developer Lend Lease sought bespoke and consultancy services from RSK for what was the first of many successful UK developments together.
The building’s bright, naturally lit design presented a challenge for the developers: the predominantly glass frontage and ceilings had the potential to leak air. A building with high air leakage would suffer from reduced energy efficiency and, subsequently, higher running costs. RSK conducted tests to ensure the centre was constructed with minimal air leakage.
The developers planned to finish the building with ornate, natural-stone paving that would run through the shopping areas and the food hall. However, the paving had to withstand the daily footsteps of thousands of visitors. It also had to be appropriate for the food hall, where spillages and stains were likely, and maintain a high-quality finish. RSK provided materials and treatment consultancy to select the right paving and developed a quality control system to ensure only the best stone was used.
Waste transfer facility relocation ahead of HS2
High-speed rail plans were announced by the UK government more than six years ago to connect London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. The new rail line, HS2, will carry 400-m-long trains capable of carrying 1100 passengers travelling at speeds of up to 250 mph, which is faster than most trains in Europe.
Phase 1 of HS2 involves building infrastructure for the high-speed line from London Euston to north of Birmingham with operation planned for 2026. Phase 2 (HS2), hoped to conclude in 2032, will diverge from Birmingham into two separate routes to Manchester and Leeds.
An FCC Environment waste transfer facility sits on the proposed route close to Calvert village in Buckinghamshire. Electric power company Western Power Distribution asked RSK for help in relocating the facility and diverting the overhead lines underground. RSK completed several ecological mitigation mini-projects and met the tight deadline.
The vast project included
• installing almost 500 m of semi-permanent and permanent amphibian fencing to help translocate great crested newts
• fabricating and installing three 3.5-m newt grids at site entrances
• removing 32 mature poplar trees using a 21-t excavator and a tree shear
• processing the timber and moving it to the landowner’s facility
• grubbing and processing tree stumps
• clearing excess branches and removing the lower branches of some 400 m of hedgerow and mature trees
• clearing 3 km of roadside hedgerow to improve visibility and prevent hedgerow slumping
• clearing brush from side entrances to clean blind spots and improve visibility.
The client’s project manager, David O’Brien, praised RSK’s work, saying, “RSK provided prompt, high-quality services and was always on hand to deal with any issues. I would not hesitate to use them on my other projects.”
Planning and planting offshore windfarms
Off the coast of Sussex, UK, 116 wind turbines protrude from the sea. They look strikingly like the flower the local schoolchildren named the wind farm after, the round-headed rampion. Rampion is the first offshore wind farm on the south coast. It generates enough renewable energy to power 350,000 homes. RSK, working with the developer E.ON, undertook environmental impact assessments for the wind farm and supported the project during preconstruction and construction phases.
RSK produced documents that were submitted to and approved by West Sussex County Council and South Downs National Park Authority, which enabled construction of the wind farm. RSK’s remit covered every aspect of wind farm planning, including landscape management, great crested newt and bat surveys, and construction health and safety and preconstruction analysis. The development consent order concerning onshore developments was divided into 12 submission packages. RSK considered issues including highways access, public rights of way and associated Environment Agency and local flood authority drainage consents for each stage of the order.
During construction, RSK assisted E.ON with deviation requests for official documents and provided ongoing consultancy and specialist support for ecology, arboriculture and noise. Rampion wind farm was commissioned in April 2018.