Steer Davies Gleave & Ramboll consult on Southampton public transport overhaul

20 July 2017

In a bid to solve a £400 million sustainability challenge for Southampton’s transport system, The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership has commissioned Steer Davies Gleave to develop a case study for 'tram-trains' across the region. The consulting firm brought Ramboll on board to provide specific engineering and environmental expertise.

As a sea-side city, Southampton, like many around the globe, is facing risks on all fronts, facing air-pollution in its congested centre, and rising sea levels thanks to the climate change that pollution accelerates. Public transport is able to reduce inner city congestion and cause the number of cars on the road to fall – with various studies increasingly highlighting the risks from air pollution – while also reducing the carbon footprint of the city as a whole.

While public transport is often equated with busses and trains in the UK, in a bid to better connect with its neighbouring cities and towns, Southampton is exploring the possibilities of dedicated ‘tram-trains’. The tram-train, was first developed in Karlsruhe, Germany, as a multipurpose metro-vehicle that can run on street lines as well as heavier types of rail network – hitting 60/70 miles per hour on railway stretches and a slower pace on street sections.

The proposed lines would aim to connect Eastleigh South to a new station in Southampton’s St Mary’s district, before traveling to the Westquay shopping area and Southampton Central station. The next phase of the possible proposal would see the tram-trains extended from the towns of Fareham and Botley to Southampton, before travelling onwards to Romsey and Eastleigh. The region’s airport, Southampton Airport, would too feature in the trajectory.

The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership explores public transport in Hampshire

The project is being championed by The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), a partnership involving regional businesses, higher education institutes, and three unitary authorities, eight district councils and one county council. The organisations aim to drive sustainable economic growth for the Solent area. LEP had commissioned an earlier study that found that road congestion in the region was costing the Hampshire economy £0.4 billion per year.

The study will include a case study of the costs incurred by the development of the tram-train options, which will be performed by Steer Davies Gleave. The professional services firm will develop a feasibility study for the possible metro network, which includes, among others, a business case that includes an initial engineering and environmental study. Steer Davies Gleave were integral to Kingston-upon-Thames’ bid to overhaul the council’s cycling infrastructure, as they sought to decrease the environmental impact of traffic in the area.

For the project’s engineering and environmental risk management meanwhile, Steer Davies Gleave has brought consulting firm Ramboll on board to provide civil engineering, operational advice and environmental appraisal to the business case. Ramboll was also recently commissioned by the City of San Francisco to help engineer their respective climate change response, as the famous American city also faces rising sea levels and cloudburst pollution.

Commenting on the firm’s role in the wider project, Steven Brown, UK Market Director Rail at Ramboll, who have a regional staff of 300, said, “We are delighted to be able to bring Ramboll’s expertise in metro, light rail and tram-train to the UK. We are a local consultant that really understands the key local issues allowing us to combine global expertise with a strong local presence.”


Private equity firms ramp up sustainability focus

19 April 2019

In line with business leaders across the industrial gamut, private equity firms are increasingly on board with sustainability projects. According to a new study, the investment arms for major funds are implementing a number of strategies aimed at supporting sustainable economic development in line with global goals.

While the business world has finally begun to acknowledge the danger of climate change, effective action plans remain difficult to achieve. The Paris Agreement has stipulated a clear target for the decades leading up to 2100, although massively reducing emissions while not crashing the economy could be a tall order.

Businesses that are able to acquire capital can use it to boost productivity and output, thereby creating a virtuous cycle of development. However, some businesses are better able to utilise resources than others, both in terms of their relative productivity, as well as the value of the respective outcomes relative to costs (including environmental harms). Financing can therefore provide an avenue to select businesses that are aligned with various global sustainability goals, while shunning those that drive little or unsustainable social value creation.

Top moves made by investment arms towards responsible investment

Profit has for the longest time been the central criterion for investment decisions. Yet profit at any cost is increasingly seen as creating considerable social harms, while often delivering only marginal value. As a result, the private equity sector, which was initially sluggish to change its ways with regards to sustainability, has started to see the topic as an opportunity as much as a challenge.

A new study from PwC has explored how far sustainability goals have become part of the wider investment strategy for private equity (PE) firms. The report is based on analysis of a survey of 162 firms and includes responses from 145 general partners and 38 limited partners.

Maturing sustainability

Top-line results show that responsible investment has become an issue for 91% of respondents. For 81% of respondents, ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) was a board matter at least once a year, while 60% said that they already have implemented measures to address human rights issues. Two-thirds have identified and prioritised Sustainable Development goals that are relevant to their investment segments.

Change in concern and action on climate-related topics over time

While there is increasing concern around key issues, from human rights protections to environmental and biodiversity protection, the study finds there are mismatches between concern and action. For instance, concern among investment vehicles around climate change has increased since 2016.

In terms of risks to the PE firm itself, concern has increased from 46% of respondents in 2016 to 58% in the latest survey. However, the number who have taken action remains far below those concerned, at 9% in 2016 and 20% in 2019. Given the relatively broader scope of investment opportunities, portfolio companies face higher risks – and more concern – from PE professionals, at 83% in the latest survey. However, action is less than half of those concerned, at 31%.

Changing climate

In terms of the climate footprint of the portfolio companies, 77% of respondents state concern in the latest survey. 28% of respondents are taking action through the implementation of measures to mitigate their concerns.

Concern and action taken on ESG issues

In terms of the more pressing issues for emerging responsible investment or ESG issues, governance concern of portfolio companies comes in at number one (92% of respondents), while 60% have taken action on it. Firms have focused on improving awareness – setting up policies and a range of training modules for their professionals around responsible investment decision making. Cybersecurity takes the number two spot, with 89% concerned and 41% implementing strategies to mitigate risks.

Climate risks take the number three spot in terms of concern for portfolio companies (83%), but falls behind in terms of action (31%). Health and safety track records are a key concern at 80% of businesses, with 49% implementing action. Gender imbalance within PE firms themselves ranks at 78%, which is being dealt with by 31%. A recent survey from Oliver Wyman showed that there is gender balance at 13% of GP teams in developed countries.

Biodiversity is also an increasingly pertinent topic, with risks from pollution and chemical use increasingly driving wider systematic risks around environmental outcomes. It featured at number eight on the ranking of most likely global risks for the coming decade, with its impact at number six. As it stands, biodiversity is noted as an issue at 57% of firms, with 15% implementing action.