UXO survey support for Britain’s school building programme

Ahead of school building works, Igne's UXO survey and clearance services ensure our construction clients' sites are safe.

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Nelson Mandela said: “education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world…” but what about the weapons of the past that create a hurdle to building the educational establishments of the future? It’s no problem for us at Igne!

We’re working to enable the education of Britain’s children by supporting the Department for Education’s commitment to invest £7bn into a school building programme.  Ahead of these works, we can survey for, detect, and mitigate the threat posed by historic weapons – or unexploded ordnance (UXO).

The term UXO encompasses all items of explosive ordnance - such as bombs, grenades, mortars, submunitions, etc., - that failed to detonate properly.  Did you know, approximately 10% of the bombs dropped during World War II did not explode?  They lie dormant on land and in the marine environment across the United Kingdom, affecting construction and infrastructure projects daily.

As an explosive threat mitigation company, Igne is expert in the detection and clearance of UXO and has supported dozens of education-related projects.  This case study highlights two of them: a primary school in Southampton (contracted by Morgan Sindall) and one in Chislehurst (contracted by Galliford Try).

Primary school, Southampton – supporting Morgan Sindall with UXO surveys

Southampton was heavily bombed during World War II.  According to official documents, fifty-seven air raid attacks affected Southampton and about 2,300 bombs were dropped.  Based on statistical data, one can approximate that at least 200 of these did not detonate correctly.

As such, when Morgan Sindall began work on a primary school in Southampton, they contacted Igne to perform a Stage 1 Preliminary Explosive Ordnance Desktop Risk Assessment.  Based on our findings and recommendations, Morgan Sindall then commissioned a Stage 2 Desktop Study to fully establish the risk of UXO being present on their site.

Igne’s Research Department divided Morgan Sindall’s site into two categories: low-risk and medium-risk.  Additionally, Igne provided a range of risk mitigation strategies for each of the two categories.

Morgan Sindall requested an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) engineer be present on their site for works.  However, because having an EOD engineer on site for an undetermined amount of time would be costly for the client, we instead recommended a non-intrusive magnetometer survey

The non-intrusive UXO survey saved the client a significant amount of time and money.  Igne identified 106 targets for closer scrutiny – any one of which could have been an item of UXO but fortunately wasn’t. 

As per the client’s additional request, Igne provided a watching brief during archaeological works on the school site.  We were also contracted to perform an additional intrusive magnetometer survey to support the piling works for the main school building. 

During this however, a previously undiscovered underground air raid shelter was unearthed which caused delays to our intrusive survey works. 

We readily adapted to the client’s circumstances and demobilised until work was ready to resume.  Overall, the project was hugely successful.  Igne’s recommendations and responsiveness saved Morgan Sindall time and money.  The school is now fully operational, providing our youth with the most powerful weapon with which they can change the world – i.e., education!

Primary school in Chislehurst – supporting Galliford Try

When Galliford Try contracted one of our competitors to undertake a Stage 1, Preliminary Explosive Ordnance Desktop Risk Assessment for  primary school in Chislehurst, they quickly realised they needed Igne’s superior skills and experience for a Stage 2 Detailed Explosive Ordnance Desktop Risk Assessment!

Due to the client’s strict deadline, we delivered our report within 11 working days (rather than our usual 15-day lead time at the point of instruction) and highlighted there was a medium risk of UXO being present on their school site.  Support from an EOD engineer was deemed necessary to protect Galliford Try’s project and personnel.

Our client planned to build the school on shallow strip footings.  As this was a greenfield site, (a location where there is likely to be less data interference from ferrous objects such as existing piles, or foundations), Igne recommended a pedestrian non-intrusive magnetometer UXO survey would be sufficient to ensure the site was clear of ordnance.

However, 5 months later, Galliford Try informed us that they instead planned to install deep pile foundations and enquired whether this would require a different survey methodology.  We confirmed that due to the increased depth required for clearance, this would indeed require an intrusive magnetometer survey.

Igne liaised with Galliford Try’s Senior Quantity Surveyor to establish the full scope of works based on their latest pile designs, and to provide the best possible mitigation plan and pricing.  

We were on-site providing UXO surveys before our client’s piling mat was in place as the site’s ground conditions enabled the hydraulic pushing involved in intrusive surveying.  This meant that Igne could eliminate the requirement for pre-drilling of survey positions which reduced the overall price substantially.

However, the ground conditions were extremely soft and muddy meaning we had to overcome these – which we easily did by utilising one of our tracked rigs that would not sink or get stuck.  Having extensive plant and the experienced personnel to operate it in all ground conditions is just another benefit we can deliver.

Igne’s collaborative approach and open and ongoing communications with the client ensured that the project stayed within budget - despite the change in initial construction plans and all the additional surveys that were needed.  Our client was so satisfied they have asked us to support them on another upcoming project.

In conclusion…

Just as "an investment in knowledge pays the best interest", so an investment in Igne’s expertise pays our clients’ dividends!  We save them time and money, we keep their time critical projects on track, and we protect their personnel from the lethal potential impact of unexploded ordnance.

If you’re working to deliver the Department for Education’s schools investment plan, trust our extensive experience of supporting a large variety of education related projects, and call us in to assess and mitigate your UXO risk.

Here are just a few more examples of the locations of schools we’ve supported, the services delivered and the clients helped:

  • Redbridge – EOD engineer support - ISG Plc
  • East Sussex – desktop threat assessment – Bowmer & Kirkland Ltd
  • Islington – intrusive surveys – O’Keefe
  • Northfleet – UXO safety briefings – Kier
  • Romford – EOD engineer support – Willmott Dixon
  • Manchester – intrusive surveys – Conlon Construction
  • Oxfordshire – EOD engineer support – J Coffey Construction
  • Hull – pre-drill & BXP (intrusive surveys) - Houlton & Sons Ltd
  • Hull – pre-drill & BXP (intrusive surveys) - Houlton & Sons Ltd

With over three decades of experience, Igne is an expert in explosive threat mitigation.  We are ready to assist you with all your UXO-related enquiries and needs.  Contact our team today via or call 01634 471 340 for more information.