Atkins to expand environment practice as sector focus shifts

Dr Vicky Hutchinson

Atkins is expanding the size and scope of its environmental services in response to the demand for more sustainable infrastructure and nature-based solutions. 

The move will see its Environment Practice expand by 50% by 2025, and five new service lines introduced, to tackle the key challenges of climate change resilience and global pressures for demand on resources.

As industry faces mounting pressure to develop critical infrastructure against a backdrop of rising costs and looming net zero targets, Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, is set to make a fundamental shift in how it delivers its services.  

By putting the environment and communities at the heart of the development process it will unlock value in projects, helping to create sustainable infrastructure and thriving places as a result. 

Dr Victoria Hutchinson, Atkins environment practice director, said: “By working with clients much earlier in the project process, we can put environment and communities at the heart of the decision making, which ensures better outcomes and improved circumstances for people.

“This will help mitigate any project risks around time and budget and make sure clients get consentable solutions that are ready to go to site quickly.

“It means meeting demand for new services, but also growing our existing consulting strategy and advisory services. 

“We are bringing our understanding of client objectives and regulatory requirements, as well as our ability to rapidly assemble and interpret data sets, so we can take complex client projects and bring them together behind a coherent presentation of data. This demonstrates real long-term value across physical, environmental and social drivers.”

Alongside the recruitment drive across a range of roles, five new service lines have also been launched to directly address the changing needs of clients which will include: Nature-based solutions, Valuing a Sustainable Future, Carbon Advisory, Planning & Consenting and Sustainability and Climate Resilience.

The renewed focus is in response to increased demand on resources such as water, energy and housing, at a time when there is a real need to restore nature and communities and protect them from the impact of climate change. 

The approach draws on Atkins’ wide breadth of expertise across the business globally, and will enable the environment team to work with clients from day one on a project. 

By engaging with clients and stakeholder groups before work starts on-site, potential problems can be identified and resolved early on.

In addition opportunities for ensuring better social value outcomes can also be identified and realised early in the process – unlocking value in the project for the client as well as its end-user communities.

Atkins has been bringing this new approach to some of the UK’s biggest infrastructure projects*, which has resulted in more efficient processes, more informed decision-making, improved design and more opportunities to transform communities and the environment.

Hutchinson adds: “By finding new ways of looking at value we can help rebalance communities, create more opportunity for under-represented groups to participate in the economy, and identify nature-positive ways of stimulating growth.

"This should mean that overall we invest in infrastructure that creates better outcomes for communities and the environment.”

Mike McNicholas, managing director of Atkins’ infrastructure division, said: “As a business we have undergone a process of ‘re-imagining’ the role of our environment services in order to meet the ongoing challenges faced by clients.

“We have always been alive to the dynamics of the markets we operate in and the need to adapt to changing circumstances, and of course listening to our clients.

“As a result we have created new service lines to specifically address those issues faced by our clients, and have been proactive about getting the best people in place to head them up.

“The result is a holistic approach to projects that enables clients to make informed investment decisions and ensures all stakeholder groups fully understand the benefits of the approach, resulting in faster, better, greener project outcomes.”

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