Success At Ground Engineering Awards For Bristol-Based Structural Soils


UK geotechnical and geoenvironmental investigation company Structural Soils Ltd, was a winner at last night’s virtual Ground Engineering Awards taking home three awards. The company, part of the RSK Group, was named Contractor of the Year and Ground Investigation Specialist of the Year, and also won the Ground Investigation Project of the Year Award with Highways England and AECOM.

The Ground Investigation Specialist of the Year and Contractor of the Year awards were presented in recognition of Structural Soils’ significant growth over the last few years. The company’s turnover in FY19 was £21.0 million compared with £14.7 million during FY16. This growth is continuing: turnover in FY20 was £23.7 million at the time of entry and the final figure is forecast to be about £31.5 million. This has been mirrored by the growth in the company’s staff numbers: 282 permanent staff at the end of FY19 compared with 223 in FY16. Project sizes have also increased and have been the main driver of this growth. During the first 9 months’ trading in the current year, projects of £100,000 and larger accounted for £20.4 million in sales.

The judges said,

“Structural Soils demonstrated good core recovery during difficult conditions using non-standard techniques to improve sample recovery and good innovation to provide what the client needs. They provided a great example with Minworth Sewage Treatment works ground investigation as they delivered this under budget, whilst developing new tools and systems to improve the services they offer. They showed a good gender balance on STEM activities and other types of training and are providing specialists experts to support and train staff.”

Meanwhile, it was Highways England, AECOM and Structural Soils’ A303 phases 6 and 7 advanced ground investigation project that triumphed in the Ground Investigation Project of the Year category. The judges commented,

“We believe that this was the most rounded all of the submissions. Technical excellence in planning and delivery combined with the management of numerous stakeholders on a world heritage site delivered an investigation which set the standard for the future. A novel approach to sampling the phosphatic chalk made the submission stand out.”

The project aims to improve the A303 between Amesbury and Berwick Down, UK, and will involve building a 3.3-km tunnel beneath the Stonehenge World Heritage Site to reduce congestion, support economic growth and improve the appearance of the site itself. The nomination covered the completion of the early phase ground investigation, which was curtailed in Spring 2016, and the addition of groundwater catchment monitoring boreholes.

Structural Soils was able to deliver a high-quality ground investigation that will contribute to the minimisation of risk from unexpected ground conditions during construction by significantly increasing the understanding of the structural and lithostratigraphical geology beneath the site. This was the result of the recovery of intact phosphatic chalk cores inclusive of fault-controlled, shallow marine transgressions and regressions and significant lengths of uninterrupted core from the Newhaven Chalk Formation. This information can be fed directly into the overall 3D model of the proposed road scheme and decisions relating to tunnel alignment and trajectory can be made with much more certainty.

In total, RSK companies were shortlisted 14 times: the RSK group was a finalist in the Consulting Firm of the Year category, while RSK’s preconstruction services company Central Alliance was shortlisted for the Award for Equipment Innovation and the Award for Technical Excellence (jointly with Geoptic and AmcoGiffen). Meanwhile, CAN Geotechnical, RSK’s geotechnical and engineering contractor, was a finalist for the Award for Equipment Innovation, UK Project with a Geotechnical Value between £1M and £3M and UK Project with a Geotechnical Value over £3M. Structural Soils was also a finalist in the Award for Equipment Innovation, and for the Community Engagement Award, Ground Investigation Project of the Year and UK Project with a Geotechnical Value of between £0.5M and £1M awards jointly with Atkins. Furthermore, Structural Soils’ Geotechnical Engineer Wesley Dixon was named as a finalist for the Rising Star Award.

The Ground Engineering Awards are the most prestigious awards for the geotechnical industry, and they bring together industry leaders to celebrate achievements in terms of projects, people and business over the last 12 months. The 18 awards on offer recognise excellence and showcase the very best in the ground engineering market. With categories ranging from International Project of the Year to Community Engagement initiatives, the awards attract businesses from diverse areas of geotechnical engineering. The winners were announced in a virtual ceremony on 4 November 2020.