Surveying to protect Granny’s Bay from coastal erosion

Case study

Author: Samuel Knott

Site Surveying Services Ltd was founded by Howard James Woods in 1997 and is based in Clitheroe, a village and civil parish in the picturesque Ribble Valley district in the heart of Lancashire. The area itself was recently voted as the happiest place to live in the United Kingdom.

Since its founding, the company has carried out more than a thousand topographical surveys, volume calculations, visualisations, survey reports, elevations, floor plans and site engineering services for a wide range of clients. From private households to major contracts with councils and developers, Site Surveying Services Ltd is equipped to tackle substantial projects with ease, while remaining small enough to give their customers a personal service.

Their way of providing the most accurate services for their customers is by employing a team of 10 trained surveyors and CAD professionals, combined with investment in the latest cutting-edge technology. They engage in an ongoing training program through the Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors (ICES) while maintaining in-house quality management systems qualifying them for ISO9001. Site Surveying Services Ltd covers the whole of the UK, offering a fast turnaround from quotation to the production of drawings – sometimes even within the same day and on-site if required.


Topographical surveys at the coastal zone of Fairhaven and Church Scar



The surveying company have recently been working on the Fairhaven and Church Scar Sea Defence Project, otherwise known as Granny’s Bay, which is part of a £22m coastal protection project along the Fylde Coast. The Sea Defence redevelopment is being carried out to replace the failing and existing coastal concrete defences originally built in the 1890s. The completion of the new concrete defences will provide a new lease of life to the promenade and help protect the area from coastal erosion while benefitting over 2,600 properties in the region. Councillor Thomas Threlfall has described the completion of the project as making the seaside resort fit for the next century; whilst Councillor Roger Small, who is chairman of the Operational Management Committee, has described the project as the final piece of the jigsaw to the new foreshore.

Site Surveying Services Ltd has been involved in the project since the very beginning, initially carrying out a topographical survey of the site and continuing through the scheme with volume calculations and visualisations of the site as it progresses. The founder and company director said, “I feel the reason we were awarded this job is down to a long tradition of surveying experience, years of hard work and solid recommendations from previous clientele. From my perspective, the opportunity to get involved in a venture that would benefit the coastal environment was too exciting to pass on.”

The topographical survey was carried out using the Leica Viva GS16 Smart Antenna, Leica Viva TS16 total station and controlled with using a Leica CS20 field controller. The data obtained supported the project’s design and was used as a control network for all the setting out on-site and machine control. The data was also used for volume calculations, helping minimise overall project costs.



From the beginning of the project, Site Surveying Services Ltd worked with VolkerStevin, a company providing complex engineering solutions across a wide range of sectors including civil engineering, land remediation and regeneration, water and marine infrastructure and flood and coastal protection. “VolkerStevin oversaw the development of the sea defence, and we carried out some setting out on site directly for the company. Experiencing first hand the quality, accuracy and benefits of the equipment led VolkerStevin renting and purchasing their own fleet of Leica Captivate total stations for the project,” said Wood.

Site Surveying Services Ltd also worked closely with Fox Brothers Ltd, an earthworks and demolition contractors’ firm, to establish GPS machine control on the coastal zone of Fairhaven and Church Scar. To set up the grid to work on the coastal defence project, the surveying company relied on Leica Geo Office, and Leica iCON software to process the network as well as N4ce software to process the 3D files.


Beyond a trusted measuring and positioning technology provider



When asked why Site Surveying Services Ltd uses almost exclusively Leica Geosystems products, Wood said, “The user-friendly interface and simplicity of using Leica Geosystem products is by far the best I’ve experienced in the industry over the past 22 years. Their products are undeniably accurate, and their customer support is second to none.”

We choose our products based on durability and reputation within the industry. We find Leica Geosystems products to be both these things and more. Their waterproof capacity allows us to adapt to the ever-changing British weather without any issues.”

Beyond the Fairhaven and Church Scar Sea Defence project, Site Surveying Services Ltd has 10 active Leica Geosystems total stations that are continually used on a whole variety of sites and scenarios. The company also owns a Leica Scan Station P40 to gather high-speed quality 3D data and when mapping out the internals of historical buildings, complex areas and abundant rivers.

According to Wood, the P40 has also helped his business grow and have a faster turnaround, “It covers so much ground in so little time, I find it extraordinary. We are able to utilise the highly detailed 3D colour point clouds to map out the internals of complex structures and save man-hours on site. This means we can turn around drawings quicker and get back out there.”

Whilst many companies have come and gone over the years, Site Surveying Services Ltd continues to grow in strength and numbers. Offering the highest quality in product and customer service that is matched by a dedicated workforce, a strong team behind the scenes and a director whose passion for the industry is second to none.

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