25May / 2018
As GGS celebrates 9 years of continuous ground gas monitoring, Simon Talbot, Managing Director, reflects on it’s success and where the company began – at his dining room table.
It’s hard to believe that I founded GGS in May 2009 at my dining room table.
As director of the Greater Manchester Geological Unit (GMGU) I’d just completed a three year DTI funded research project into better characterisation of ground gas contamination with the University of Manchester and Intelysis. The research had been the highest scoring project in its cohort and the result had been the successful development of the world’s first in-borehole continuous ground gas monitoring device – the GasClam. While Intelysis had the IP on the device, I had the knowledge and experience of interpreting the continuous ground gas data it produced. This led to the idea of setting up a geo-environmental consultancy specialising in continuous ground gas monitoring and risk assessment. But success doesn’t come easy, even if you have a fast track to innovative technology.
My colleague, John Naylor, joined the company a few months later and we set about building a business that would improve ground gas monitoring and risk assessment. Our aim was to improve protection for new buildings and save money for developers along the way. A stepping stone on that road was the publication of the Ground Gas Handbook in 2009, written by Steve Wilson, Geoff Card and Sarah Haines. Another sign of progress was the 2013 guidance on investigations for ground gas, permanent gases and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Since then our expertise and professional outlook on ground gas characterisation has been sought by organisations throughout the UK and across the world. GGS has run over 60 training events for over 500 local authorities, consultants and contractors in the contaminated land sector.
This resulted in an invitation to be a key note speaker at the Australasian Land & Groundwater Association (ALGA) inaugural contaminated land conference in 2015. Following the success of this event, GGS delivered 12 training dates in Australia and New Zealand. The company was also invited to speak at several national and international conferences in Brussels, Warsaw, Perth and Auckland.
But it’s not just contaminated land where continuous ground gas monitoring has proved useful. It is a technique that can provide a lines of evidence approach for environmental protection within the onshore petroleum industry. In 2011 GGS was engaged by Cuadrilla to monitor its shale gas exploration operations in Lancashire. Working closely with the Environment Agency, the company has since been employed by several other shale gas operators to characterise the baseline conditions at proposed drilling sites.
Our experience, expertise and position as a trusted independent environmental consultancy has led GGS to be invited to train numerous local planning authorities across the UK and Ireland on the environmental monitoring of shale gas operations. We also had the privilege of being invited to several consultations with government ministers and contributing to various review and industry guidance documents.
It is with considerable pride that I can say that over the last nine years continuous ground gas monitoring has moved from being an esoteric university research tool to a mainstream environmental monitoring technique. It is providing improved data, cost savings to the development sector and reassurance to regulators and local communities.
But it doesn’t stop there. Continued innovation in continuous monitoring is leading to better quality data and new devices, including remote data acquisition and web-based data portals.
GGS will continue to be at the forefront of these developments for the next nine years and beyond.