IHBC Yearbook 2017

R E V I E W 41 line would pass through challenging topography in a designated special landscape and crossed a river that has been designated a site of special scientific interest and a special area of conservation. The scope of work provided by the consultancy included specialists from a number of disciplines: land use, agriculture, and forestry; landscape and visual impact; protected species surveys and habitats regulations assessment; heritage impact assessments; geology, hydrogeology and ground conditions; drainage and flood risk assessments; noise and vibration; air quality; socioeconomic studies; and GIS mapping of the area. If this list seems a bit unwieldy, it illustrates the scope of investigation required in such studies before the application for development is even filed. Because of the in-house, cooperative approach, it was possible to offer comprehensive input at all stages of the client’s planning process. The multidisciplinary nature of the project team made it possible to provide the client not only with a package of factual, descriptive survey data of environmental factors at risk, but also with evidence-based advice on feasible options for the route corridor location and alignment throughout multiple phases of the project. The team was also able to engage with local landowners, the local council and National Resources Wales to discuss the findings at various stages throughout the survey and environmental scoping process. This holistic approach allowed for a more complete service to the client. The application for development consent was ultimately accepted with a decision that cited the project’s good design and its consideration of a long list of potential impacts, including the historic environment. While the ‘one-stop-shop’ approach is perhaps simpler to organise and less costly for the client, there are additional benefits to an integrated consultancy. Specialists can produce better results if they work together to inform each other’s projects in a holistic way. Working from the same office they can learn from each other, strengthening their own experience, extending their own expertise, providing better value to their clients. After enough outings with an ecologist, an architectural historian may come to recognise the signs of bat roosts. In which case he or she can flag up the need for a full survey, thereby saving the client from potentially costly and damaging violations. When scientists, specialists and project planners combine forces they can ensure all facets of the business case are met. This, after all, is the only way to ensure projects are fully funded, which in turn is the best way to ensure that heritage assets are fully protected. A well-designed project will produce a series of records that document the history of a particular structure: the ‘state of things’ when work began, what was done and why. All of this could be presented as a benefit, integrating any conservation works or development into the history of a structure or conservation area, actually celebrating modern changes as part of an ongoing story rather than an unfortunate inevitability. Jennifer Murgatroyd DPhil Oxon is a senior geomaterials scientist with the Materials & Structures Department at RSK Environment. She is a historic materials specialist with a particular focus on lime mortars. She is also an honorary visiting researcher at the Department of Archaeological Sciences at the University of Bradford and an affiliate member of the IHBC. Brechfa Forest West, Carmarthenshire: connecting a wind farm to the electricity distribution network required nearly 30km of overhead lines and buried cables crossing challenging topography and sensitive landscape.