Wednesday, 9 March 2016

How The Girl Guides Are Encouraging Girls To Pursue STEM Careers

Andreah Cole - Personal Assistant

WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) is the International Women’s Day charity partner. WAGGGS empowers girls and young women to stand up and speak out on issues affecting them. They provide girls and young women with dynamic, flexible and values-based training in life skills, leadership and citizenship. WAGGGS not only speaks out on behalf of girls and young women to influence people making decisions that improve the lives of girls, but they also empower young women to be advocates.

As a Guide leader I volunteer with girls between 10-14 years old. We cover a wide programme of activities, from adventure sports to performing arts, travel and taking part in community action projects. Our aim is to help girls develop in a safe environment.

The Girls Attitude Survey 2015 reported, “Fewer than one in ten girls aged 7 to 10 would choose a career as an engineer (3 per cent), scientist (6 per cent) or lawyer (6 per cent).” Girlguiding UK is trying to promote girls’ and young women’s interest in male dominated industries. Rolls Royce supported the programme for the science investigator badge as part of their involvement in inspiring and engaging young women in the STEM subjects - Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths - encouraging their potential as future scientists and engineers. Girlguiding UK encourages girls to believe that they can do anything they put their minds to.

In August 2015, I was part of a Guiding Overseas Linked with Development (GOLD) project to Malawi. The aim of the 6 year project is to train a team of Malawi Girl Guide Association (MAGGA) members on topics such as leadership, advocacy, first aid and ending violence against women to enable them to lead and develop the organisation to give women more opportunities in Malawi. Equality in Malawi is still a distant dream however, the women we met on our trip were determined to continue the fight. Hopefully some of the skills we taught them and ideas we gave them will enable them to accelerate gender parity for all women in Malawi. 

@wagggs_world @girlguiding #girls can #IWD2016  

Infrastructure and Development needs Women

Genevieve Oller - Senior Marketing Executive

Tuesday, 8 March was International Women’s Day; a day that seeks to recognise and celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women across the world. Over the past few years there have been a number of initiatives bespoke to the industries that we work in (engineering, infrastructure, construction) that have tried to highlight women’s contribution and, in turn, encourage them to enter these workplaces.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has established The IET Women’s Network, which seeks to “engage with under-represented groups within engineering and technology and support them throughout their career”. They have also introduced the Young Woman Engineer of the Year awards. One of the aims of these awards is to create role models, thereby showing engineering to be a viable career option for the next generation of women entering the workplace. There are a host of other societies and initiatives (Women in Architecture, Women in Transport, Women in Rail, Women in Property, MIPIM Ladies) and awards that seek to highlight and, more importantly, foster women’s contribution.

There is also a very real reason to encourage women to these industries, there are not enough people to build the infrastructure and development projects that London needs;  more people means more money injected into the city (so, it’s win, win!). There are some genuine efforts within major infrastructure projects to employ more female staff. At a recent Temple breakfast briefing, Geoff Loader, Head of Stakeholder Engagement at Tideway, discussed the project’s aim to try and get a 50/50 split between men and women on the project. In order to achieve this they have introduced programmes such as Tideway Returner, which offers professionals (predominantly women) who have taken a career break and found it difficult to return to work, a range of internships within Tideway and its delivery partners.

The environmental sector is more fortunate in that for the most part it attracts a more diverse range of people, something I feel we, at Temple, benefit from. Equally, our sister company The Ecology Consultancy, has a high number of female staff. However, what matters here is not numbers but that these are areas of the industry that are seen as viable for women to work in and offer real career prospects. There are certainly efforts to change things within different areas of the industry however, more needs to be done and for some areas change is even more needed than others. I think the education needed here is twofold: firstly, to emphasise the value that women can bring and secondly, position these types of careers for women, showing them how rewarding they can be.

IET kindly allowed us to include their infographic for how women can join the STEM industries;

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Temple BBB (Brown Bag Breakfast): Geoff Loader from Tideway - Wednesday 10th February

Lheah Zorlakkis - Business Development and Marketing Administrator

This month Temple were joined by Geoff Loader, Head of Stakeholder Engagement at Tideway. Geoff walked us through the history of the Victorian sewer system that London has relied on for over a century, and the stresses and strains that have led to the proposal of the innovative Thames Tideway Tunnel project. This project aims to 'reconnect London' with the River Thames and to dramatically reduce the amount of overflow that is dumped into the Thames annually.
Geoff was very open in discussing the biggest risks (in his opinion) of project delivery; stating that the consenting work compared with the timescales could very much hinder the project. There are also numerous factors that local communities want addressed, as well as concerns with regard to Health and Safety during construction, on account of its proximity to the river.
Geoff also addressed the major strain that the current infrastructure projects are putting on the industry in regards to skilled workers. As part of the tunnel scheme Tideway will be setting up Thames Skills Academy, dedicated to training apprentices in this specialised field. They have also been very successful with the introduction of a Return to Work scheme, encouraging ex-industry professionals who have been on career breaks to return to work.
Many thanks to Geoff for his presentation and we look forward to the next Brown Bag Breakfast with Chris Porter of TfL.
If you are interest in attending a future Brown Bag Breakfast please contact

Thursday, 7 January 2016

A Change is in the Air: The EIC’s and Temple’s Recommendations of Technologies and Strategies needed to Tackle Urban Air Pollution

Jose Estrada (Graduate Consultant - Air Quality) & Erica Ward (Senior Consultant)

The need to improve air quality in urban areas is one of the most important environmental challenges we face today. Sadly, air pollution and its consequences are increasingly hitting the headlines. From data on the costs of poor air quality, to images of heavily polluted streets in major cities around the world, the issue is now hard to ignore.

In the UK, particulate matter (PM10) limits have been largely met. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) remains a challenge, however, with levels exceeding the EU limits (which should have been met by 2010) in 31 areas in the UK. In May 2015 the UK Supreme Court instructed the government to submit a revised plan to meet these limits by the end of 2015. To add even more complexity to the problem, the scandal of diesel emissions broke out at the same time, further focusing the media’s attention on the issue.

Temple worked with the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) to study the impacts and the economic costs of different alternatives to tackle urban air pollution. The findings of which were presented in the joint report, ‘A clear choice for the UK: Technology options for tackling air pollution’, published at the end of last year. Our goal: to contribute to an informed discussion, based on good quality data, on what options might form part of the solution for the UK. A range of technologies were assessed, including vehicle retrofit and scrappage programmes, electric vehicles and more innovative solutions such as renewable diesel for non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) and photo-catalytic treatments applied to roads to remove pollutants.

The conclusions of our study were clear, there is no single answer to the problem and a range of technologies and strategies will be needed to tackle urban air pollution. Electric vehicles, despite being expected to play an important role in the mid to long-term, are an expensive alternative to improve air quality in the short-term.

In September 2015, the UK Government increased its estimates of damage costs[1] (the cost to society of a change in emissions of different pollutants) to reflect the latest evidence. The new figures make the economic case for adopting many of the technologies evaluated by Temple and the EIC compelling. Acting to reduce pollution will be more cost-effective than dealing with its effects. The new air quality plan for NO2, published in December 2015[2], introduces a programme of Clean Air Zones (similar to London’s Low Emission Zone) where old, polluting vehicles will be discouraged from entering designated urban centres. At the same time, transition to modern cleaner vehicles will be promoted by retrofitting and upgrading transport fleets by looking at approaches to reducing emissions in NRMM, which were identified in the Temple/EIC report as promising measures in the short-term.

While implementation of the new plan is yet to happen, 2015 has been a key year for urban air pollution, showing that as a nation we will need to be ambitious and innovative on all fronts. The UK, and particularly London, will continue to face challenges along the way to improve air quality, urban population growth, major residential developments and massive infrastructure projects (such as High Speed 2, Crossrail 2 or an airport expansion) among others. We think that 2015 was only a starting point in terms of improving urban air quality. At Temple we are proud to be part of the process and are ready to work towards cleaner and more breathable cities. Please join us at our Temple BBB event on Air Pollution abatement on Wednesday 13 January, where we will discuss these and other issues.

For more information on the report, or to attend the breakfast briefing, please call 0207 394 3700 or email

[1] Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) (2015), Air quality economic analysis. Damage costs by location and source. Available at:
[2] Defra (2015), Air Quality in the UK: plan to reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions. Available at:

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Paris 2015 COP21 – What do we order and how do we split the bill?

Aims for an Agreement

Between November 30th and December 11th the governments of over 190 nations will descend on Paris for the 21st United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP21). The aim of the Conference is to deliver a first ever universal climate agreement to limit global warming to 2°C and replace the existing agreements which expire in 2020.

ACT 2015, a consortium of the world’s top climate experts has developed a list of 3 key ingredients of the COP21 Paris Agreement:

  1. Set long-term goals for mitigation and adaptation to help the world cope with climate impacts and phase out greenhouse gas emissions, as early as possible in the second half of the century.
  2. Ensure countries are transparent and accountable for their climate action commitments, through a process that regularly evaluates their progress.
  3. Put in place a process for countries to regularly increase their climate efforts on mitigation and adaptation, along with scaled up finance, capacity building and technology transfer, in a timely way - at least once every five years starting in 2020.
Progress so far

The world is already taking steps towards a low carbon future, investment in renewables and sustainable technologies are on the rise with the cost of solar panels dropping by around 70% since 2009 offering a beacon of hope for a clean, affordable energy future. More and more companies are taking action and making investments to prepare for the transition to a low carbon economy and we have seen companies that act on climate change outperforming their non-acting counterparts in terms of profitability (CDP).

There is a growing groundswell of support for climate change action through groups such as Greenpeace and; in 2014 over 300,000 people took to the streets of New York to demand action from their leaders on climate change, with a similar number marching in 161 other countries and there are Climate Marches planned around the world on the eve of COP21.

(Photo credit: Greenpeace Finland)

A record number of countries (over 170) have submitted their national plans and targets to deal with climate change; however, in a report commissioned by Oxfam experts estimate that these commitments will only limit global warming to between 2.7 and 3°C. The extra 1°C beyond 2°C increases developing countries costs of adaptation by about $270bn a year by 2050 and deals a further $600bn of annual economic losses, illustrating the urgent need for an agreement in Paris: We are at a tipping point where companies and countries need a strong guiding hand and clarity of support for a low carbon future through a binding universal agreement.

One of the biggest indications of this tipping point occurred in 2014 when the Rockefeller Brother Fund announced it was withdrawing from investing in the fossil fuel industry, removing approximately $50bn of funding in total. This marked the beginning of private investors and large companies shying away from polluting industries and has led to calls for more funds and large investors to follow suit. We now require bold steps from our national leaders to deliver the agreement we all need.

Paying for past sins

While it is generally agreed that rich countries will need to help poorer nations to mitigate and adapt to climate change, there is a call for more to be done. Less developed countries believe that historical emissions should be factored in at a greater level when determining who needs to pay for climate change adaptation and mitigation. They resent the way that developed countries have benefited from uncapped emissions since the beginning of the industrial revolution to deliver improved quality of life and economic growth while less developed countries will have to improve quality of life and their economies in a more costly, although sustainable, way under the terms of a climate change agreement.

The negotiations in Paris will largely concentrate on how much money the rich nations pay to the poorer ones to help them adapt to the effects of global warming and to help finance the transition from fossil fuels to green energy. This is of great importance in light of the recent economic downturn and the Oxfam commissioned report which forecasts that global warming is on course to cost developing countries $2.5 trillion dollars (£1.65 trillion) a year in total by 2050.

An international Green Climate Fund has been set up with the aim of mobilising $100bn per year from developed countries by 2020 to help less developed countries to fund climate change and mitigation. As of November 2015 $10.2bn has been pledged; showing how the full amount will be delivered is another key outcome for COP21.

Delivering an agreement

The need for action is clear; 2011-2015 has been the warmest five-year period on record, due to a combination of climate change and a strong El Nino event with significant, fatal heatwaves across many parts of the world being made more likely due to climate change. 2015 itself is set to be a record breaking year: the first to pass the symbolic milestone of 1°C above pre-industrial levels and the first to see atmospheric CO2 concentrations over 400 parts per million, it would be fitting for such an important agreement on climate change to be made in the same year.

The ingredients and the need are all in place for a landmark agreement to be reached and deliver hope for a low carbon future, let’s hope this opportunity is seized by the decision makers with both hands. As Laurent Fabius, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development said: "there is no plan b because there is no planet b".

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Testing the IQ of our City: Test 1 - Transport in London

Greg Yiangou - Consultant

With millions of people depending on London's transport network, just how ‘smart’ is it? Comparisons are often drawn between Singapore’s tube network or the ease of cycling in Amsterdam, but every city faces its own pressures, needs and challenges.

London has built an extensive, well developed network that runs throughout the city, moving millions of people every day whilst representing a sense of identity that is unique to the city. Red busses and black cabs are synonymous with London and can be recognised all over the world. But as London’s population rapidly grows, these networks are quickly reaching full capacity, with commuters feeling the effects. Frustration grows as the quality of public transport services often does not reflect the increasing costs commuters have to pay. 

‘London Underground’

If you were to ask Londoners what they thought of the Underground, many of the responses will be influenced by the recent tube strikes across the entire network, which at times brought the city to its knees. They will point to the daily struggle they face to squeeze onto a Northern Line train at 8am. The image of commuters packing onto full tubes, narrowly missing the closing doors is all too common during the morning and evening commutes.

London Underground handles 24.3 million passenger journeys every week, with 1.2 billion journeys made in 2014. With London’s population expected to top 10 million by 2030, there is no doubt the stress on the underground system will increase. We expect a delay free service but realistically it is not yet possible; the system is operating intensively at capacity and a single interruption can quickly create a domino effect of delays and congestion.

Much of the growth in London will be seen in the suburbs, with commuters still travelling into the city to work. Projects are under-way to manage this growth, Crossrail being the largest. It is expected to become operational by 2018, increasing London’s rail-based capacity by 10%. But why stop there? The construction of Crossrail 2 is looking increasingly likely.

But there is no denying that these large infrastructure projects cost a lot of money. Is there a more affordable solution? How can we increase capacity? Would automating the tube improve the traveller’s experience? Should we be easing the pressure on the tube by making other modes of transport in the city more attractive?

When we think about Smart we often think about technology but Smart Solutions are about better understanding our infrastructure and utilising it in more efficient and often more joined up ways. A Smart transport network should facilitate the easy and efficient transition across various modes of transport. TfL has started to think about rail as a supplementary link to the Tube. They recently took control of the West Anglia route that runs from Liverpool Street to north & east London and as far as Cheshunt, with the line now running under a concession as opposed to a complex rail franchise, resulting in more trains, refurbished stations and an increased capacity.

But why not Cycle?

Vast numbers of commuters are braving the roads instead of facing the tube. Cycle use grew by 10% in London over 2014 and is expected to grow by a further 12% this year. 2014 also saw a record number of ‘Boris Bikes’ hired from London’s cycle hire scheme, with more than 10 million journeys made. But why are commuters taking to the streets? Is London’s cycle network getting smarter or are these commuters just fed up of being squashed against a tube door? 

I think the increase is currently a result of ‘push’ factors as opposed to a smart and safe cycle network. Overcrowding on the tubes, increased costs of public transport and the high levels of road congestion are making cycling a more attractive option in the city. 

TfL’s bike sharing scheme, coupled with an extensive network of docking stations has fuelled this growth in cycling. Technology is also playing its part; smart apps that provide real-time information on their availability and efficient cycle routes are available, but not enough has been done to date to improve the safety of cycling which still accounts for 20% of road casualties in London.

It is clear that cycling is becoming an integral part of London’s transport network however, reflected by its level of investment. The Greater London Authority’s Vision for Cycling outlines plans for a £913 million programme to improve the cycling infrastructure and safety for cyclists. This includes the flagship development of the east to west super cycle highway.

Congested Roads

London undoubtedly loses IQ points for its congested and polluted roads. Many areas within the city are failing to meet the EU safe air quality standards and with manufacturers such as VW cheating their emission tests, we can see why progress has not been as strong as expected. This problem is captured by the fact that Oxford Street, one of Europe’s most famous roads, is now considered one of Europe’s most polluted roads. A recent study by King’s College London (commissioned by the GLA) has put a very human figure to this problem and estimates that air quality is annually responsible for approximately 9,500 premature deaths in London. The seriousness of this problem cannot be overlooked; London was named the most congested city in Europe last August, with motorists spending on average 4 days per year in traffic. 

There are alternatives; despite the controversy surrounding its use, Uber is seamlessly connecting commuters to drivers, rivalling London’s Black Cabs. Car clubs, such as Zipcar, are providing ‘wheels when you want them’ and not wheels parked on the street for 90% of the time and TfL are now operating a number of Hydrogen Buses in the city. I suppose the key question is why does anyone need to drive in central London? Is the complete restriction of public petrol or diesel vehicles in busy, central parts of London really such a radical solution when we have one of the best public transport networks in the world?

Open Data

One area of the transport sector that London is leading on, and definitely worth mentioning, is the availability of open data, which is encouraging the creation of innovative ways of presenting, visualising and using data to improve the commuting experience. A classic example is the popular Citymapper app, now a global journey planning application, originally designed in London. It brings together real-time route data for various modes of transport to provide users with the real-time information they need to make the best travel decisions. This is just one example of many and as access to data increases, we are likely to see more and more advancements; just look at the London Data Store.

There are clearly a lot of problems with London’s transport network, but the city is definitely moving in the right direction. The Smart London Plan recognises there is a need to understand how these smart technical solutions and services can help improve the management of London’s transport networks. We are going to be seeing big changes in our transport network over the coming years. Hopefully they allow us to enjoy a stress free, spacious and healthy commute in the mornings, but only time will tell. 

Next Blog: Testing the IQ of our City - Test 2: Digital London 

Friday, 7 August 2015

Norton Bridge

Robert Slatcher - Principal Consultant

In my first few months as a new graduate (now a sadly receding memory) one of the things that stood out was the leaving speech given by a highways engineer to mark his retirement after 40 years with the company. In his speech he mentioned his biggest regret in his career was a bypass scheme in the north of England, which he worked on as his first job when he joined the company, then subsequently reworked several times over when it sprung back to life as it became the political flavour of the moment and was at that very moment handing it over to someone else as it had landed back on his desk.

Sadly as consultants it is all too common to put blood, sweat and tears into a project that never makes it off the table and I am sure many of you have similar tales of deadlines and work streams that absolutely had to be completed by the first week after Christmas, only to see it now gather dust on a shelf somewhere.

So it was great to hear that the Norton Bridge Grade Separation Project, for which I led the EIA, was granted a Development Consent Order back in 2014 and was now just past the mid-point of construction. Recently I was fortunate enough to be given a guided tour of the site, a fantastic opportunity to see how all of those endless engineering plans I spent hours reviewing during the design phase translated on the ground.

The Norton Bridge scheme was the fourth Network Rail scheme to be granted a Development Consent Order, the consenting mechanism for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) under the Infrastructure Planning Act (A previous article I authored gives some of the background to the consent process for new railways link).
 Completed cutting ready for the installation of the trackbed and rail infrastructure
The project sought to resolve the last major bottleneck on the West Coast Main Line at Norton Bridge Junction by avoiding slow trains crossing the path of fast trains by creating a grade separation of the tracks at this location. The scheme itself required significant infrastructure and construction works which include three major pipeline diversions, 10km of new double track railway, a major highway diversion, twelve new bridges and four watercourse diversions.
In addition to the successful delivery of the Environmental Statement to support the consent application, Temple also provided significant input in to the development of the scheme design. The design phase of the scheme was awarded the highest ever interim CEEQUAL score of 97.4%, with the majority of scheme design highlights cited by CEEQUAL being items delivered by Temple (
When arriving on site the first thing that stood out was how well set up the site compound was. The car park and site offices were on a par with a permanent office development and not that of a construction site. I think when stakeholders imagine a site compound they may well picture a muddy patch of ground, a portacabin on its last legs and some scattered skips. When in reality for a modern construction site this could not be further from the truth. This sense of order was a theme that continued throughout the site.
Parallel rail and road overbridges over the diverted channel of the Meece Brook

At the time of the visit all of the bridge structures and associated watercourse diversions had been completed and earthworks were approximately 50% complete. The work that remained included the highway diversion, the remaining earthworks and the installation of the track infrastructure. The construction process had been progressing well and was a year ahead of programme.

To support the Environmental Statement Temple prepared a draft Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) to form the link between the assessment and construction phases and to demonstrate the mechanism by which the mitigation identified through the EIA would be implemented. When speaking to one of the construction environmental management team it was satisfying to hear that the CEMP had successfully transitioned to the construction phase and had been continually updated and used to manage a range of issues on site.

One of the major issues Temple had to manage during the single option design and EIA phase was the sheer variety of ecology on site. A comprehensive range of ecological mitigation measures were required which consisted of a combination of design mitigation embedded in the scheme, construction mitigation delivered through the CEMP and ecological enhancements. A team of ecologists have been present on site throughout the construction phase in order to monitor and implement the various stages of mitigation.

A purpose built nature reserve was created at a local conference centre and retreat to enable the translocation of animals from construction areas prior to the commencement of works. Our site visit finished off with a quick visit to the reserve to see how it had established. Given the relatively short period since it was constructed the site seemed like it had been there for many years. It was certainly a pleasant spot to relax so it was understandable why the retreat were happy to be the recipients of the reserve. 

Nature reserve constructed by the project to act as a translocation site

From a personal perspective the visit was extremely useful to gain an appreciation of the scale and logistics related to a major infrastructure project in construction. I think that for individuals undertaking EIAs the ability to experience at first hand a construction site is hugely beneficial and provides the background knowledge that can translate directly through to the assessment of construction impact.