Ricardo-AEA has been awarded a three-year contract to provide quality assurance and quality control services for the UK governmentâ€™s largest air quality monitoring network â€“ the Automatic Urban and Rural Network (AURN).
The consultancy has already held the contract for the past seven years, but announced yesterday (June 15) that it had secured another three-year deal with immediate effect from Defra.
It means Ricardo-AEA will undertake quality control and assurance of the data acquired through the AURN network, although operation of the network itself is contracted to another firm â€“ testing and inspections services provider Bureau Veritas.
Data produced by the AURN network helps the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to fulfil its statutory European Union reporting requirements, as well as supporting air quality research and policy development.
The network has been delivering air quality data since the 1970s and comprises 149 monitoring stations across the UK, producing 5.5 million measurements every year.
Automatic air quality monitoring stations in the AURN network provide hourly information on the likes of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2), ozone (O3), carbon monoxide (CO) and particles/particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5).
Monitoring data showing current pollution levels at AURN sites is available to view on the Defra UK Air website, which is used by a variety of stakeholders, including vulnerable members of the public, and â€œunderpins policy made at both local and national levelâ€, according to Ricardo-AEA.
Ricardo-AEA is also responsible for managing the Defra UK Air website, which was hacked by an Islamist political group earlier this year, leaving the website and its information inaccessible for more than five weeks (see AirQualityNews.com story).
Sean Christiansen, Ricardo-AEAâ€™s practice director for air quality and environment, said: â€œWe look forward to supporting Defra over the next three years through the provision of accurate and reliable measurements of air pollutants across the UK.
â€œRicardo-AEA has an outstanding track record in the provision of air monitoring network services to governments. This contract award reinforces Ricardo-AEAâ€™s position as Europeâ€™s premier air quality consultancy.â€
Alongside the contract win, Ricardo-AEA also announced the recruitment of four new environmental policy and sustainability experts to its air quality team, including Dr David Carslaw, who has left Kingâ€™s College Londonâ€™s Environmental Research Group to join the consultancy.
Dr Carslaw hit national headlines last year when comments he made in an interview with the Sunday Times suggested that Oxford Streetâ€™s NO2 levels were the â€œhighest in the world in terms of both hourly and annual mean,â€ prompting the Mayor of London to vociferously dispute the claim (see AirQualityNews.com story). He is also a member of the UKâ€™s Air Quality Expert Group.
Also appointed to the Ricardo-AEA air quality team is Ben Grebot, who has more than 12 yearsâ€™ experience delivering high profile projects for national governments, the European Commission and industry in the fields of air pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, chemicals, agriculture and water policy.
He joins from consultants Amec Foster Wheeler where he headed-up the environmental policy and economics team. Prior to this he worked in the Air Quality Division at Defra.
Betty Ng, who has more than 20 yearsâ€™ experience delivering international environmental projects in sectors such as oil and gas, power, chemicals, transport, industrial and commercial development, has also joined Ricardo-AEA. Her previous roles have included technical director of ERMâ€™s Hong Kong office and lead for the UK Environment Agencyâ€™s air quality modelling and assessment unit.
In addition, air quality and climate change policy specialist Tim Scarbrough, has been appointed to the team, bringing experience of working with the UK government and the European Commission on a range of environmental policy development, notably in support of the industrial emissions and transport sectors. He has previously held consulting roles at ICF International and Amec.
Ricardo-AEA managing director, Robert Bell, commented:
â€œOur UK and International client base has expanded rapidly in the last 18 months. The experience that Ben, David, Betty and Tim bring to Ricardo-AEA complements the capabilities of our existing team, ensuring that our clients around the world continue to have access to the world leading expertise that they have grown to expect from us.â€