SUAVE SiteSeer    June, 2019

Hello again, and welcome to the June 2019 edition of our e-bulletin, SiteSeer



Roof & high-rise inspections: UK-wide
Sustainable Building Service (UK) Ltd.

Pipeline inspection: Stockport
United Utilities

Highways progress record: M62, West Yorkshire

Wall-top Inspection: West Yorkshire
English Heritage

Flood Defences Progress Record: Warrington
Galliford Try / Environment Agency

Other News in Brief
Galliford Try / Environment Agency



Summer’s here, the days are long, and organisations everywhere are taking advantage of UAV-based imaging and surveying services. In short, it’s full-on ‘drone season’ – which means there’s no better time to make use of all that modern technologies can offer.

In this edition, we’ll be detailing some of our most recent projects and showing how clients across an increasingly wide range of sectors are commissioning drone-based photography, video and 3D modelling.

For example, at various locations in England and Wales, we’ve been providing aerial photos and video of social housing properties, including six high rise tower blocks that were recently fitted with new, fire-safe insulation.

In Cheshire, we carried out an aerial survey of a wastewater pipeline – enabling United Utilities engineers to assess its condition without the need to erect scaffolding and conduct time-consuming manual inspections. Meanwhile, in West Yorkshire, we’ve been producing progress records of highway improvements, including works on two busy motorway roundabouts.

In Dorset, we visited a Grade 1 listed building that was badly damaged as a result of a suspected arson attack. Our aerial survey and subsequent 3D model enabled the client to inspect parts of the property that were considered too dangerous for staff to enter.

Also in the south of the country, we provided HD aerial video of Norris Castle on the Isle of Wight, providing the owners with an extensive collection of footage that will be used in future promotional videos.

We hope you find this newsletter useful, but if you have any questions, or if you need any advice, please contact us on 07842 766679.


Site Progress Record: Roof & High-rise Inspections

Sustainable Building Services (UK) Ltd.

In recent months, we’ve visited construction sites across England and Wales, documenting the results of various improvements to social housing properties.

We’ve been working on behalf of Sustainable Building Services (SBS), a UK-based building contractor that serves housing associations and local authorities UK-wide. Initially, the company asked us to carry out a total of four visits. Two would be to Plas Madoc in North Wales, where SBS has been installing external wall insulation and new roofing to more than 200 properties. The other two visits would be to ‘The Courts’ in Nottingham, where SBS has been managing a ground-breaking energy efficiency scheme on behalf of Nottingham City Homes.

The Courts are notable for featuring the UK’s largest domestic battery storage facility, which stores the power created by solar PV panels on the roofs. It also features the country’s first low-temperature district heating system. It is the subject of an EU-funded energy efficiency demonstration programme and, as such, it is important that all progress be carefully recorded.

The results of the initial UAV flights proved so useful for marketing and quality assurance purposes that SBS asked us to carry out an additional visit to each site.

The company also asked us to visit another site, Scholes Village in Wigan, where it had installed external wall insulation to six high-rise tower blocks. SBS had undertaken the work between 2016 and 2018, so the survey would partly be used for marketing purposes and partly to demonstrate how well the system was performing. SBS is one of a very small number of contractors accredited by guarantee providers to install fire-safe external wall insulation systems on high rise buildings. Our photos and videos will help the company to promote its work and credentials at a time when fire safety is foremost in the minds of UK social housing providers.

We provide most clients with a free, 30 second, social media-grade video whenever we take video footage.  We have therefore already produced a number of short videos for SBS, which it is using on its website and social media platforms. However, we also have full, professional video editing facilities and can, by request, produce much more sophisticated broadcast-quality videos, complete with music, graphics and other elements – according to the client’s wishes.

Once we have made the our final visits to The Courts and Plas Madoc, we will edit and produce a longer HD promotional video, which will be suitable for use at exhibitions, online and in special presentations.


Inspection: Wastewater Pipeline, Stockport

United Utilities

United Utilities recently contacted us with a request for an aerial survey of a 250m elevated pipeline that serves a wastewater treatment plant in Stockport. It wanted to use the results of this inspection to determine repair and maintenance plans.

Pipe bridges and elevated sewers are often inspected manually, but this typically entails the use of scaffolding, which is slow to erect and therefore expensive. A UAV-based  inspection offered an opportunity to make significant time and cost savings.  In this case, overhead powerlines presented an additional  hazard and this lent further weight to the argument in favour of using a drone rather than metal scaffolding.

Following our usual risk assessment and safety checks, we conducted a full survey of the ‘hidden’ top-side of the pipeline. The process took just over half a day in all.

As requested, we supplied high resolution digital images and HD video. These enabled United Utilities engineers to gauge the condition of the pipeline along its entire length. They were able to identify one top-side defect that had not previously been logged, and to plan repair work accordingly. Conversely, they could see that one area they had suspected of leaking was in fact sound, as was the remainder of the 250m structure.

The photographic results also provided an excellent visual record of the condition of the pipe’s protective coating, and of the fixtures joining the pipe to its metal supports.

Assessing the value of the UAV-based approach, United Utilities Project Engineer James Devereux said: There were several advantages to using a drone for this inspection project. Most obviously, it allowed us to achieve in a couple of hours what might have taken around five days using scaffolding. That yielded considerable cost savings, and we were left with a complete visual record that we can refer back to in the future. Using the drone also delivers obvious safety benefits, especially in cases like this where power lines pass directly over the pipe.

There was also the question of being a good neighbour. Landowners usually don’t like having scaffolding on their fields, with all the physical disruption that building and moving it entails. Here, we finished the survey in a very short time and the field was left completely untouched.


Site Progress Record: M62, West Yorkshire


Towards the end of 2018, the transport infrastructure specialist Colas UK announced that it was beginning its second phase of safety improvements on the M62 south of Leeds.

This 42-week phase of works entails widening and extending slip-roads at the Tinsley Junction (junction 28). This follows on from similar improvements carried out by Colas at junction 27, and it will ultimately improve road capacity, reduce congestion and improve the general flow of traffic. The work is being carried out in collaboration with Leeds City Council and Highways England. It is part financed by the UK Government’s £220m Congestion Relief Fund.

Our part in the scheme began when we were commissioned to carry out a single visit to document the works in progress. The client found the results useful and subsequently asked us to make further visits to record progress on the two sites. Since then, we have been carrying out UAV surveys at 3-montly intervals.

Primarily, we have delivered high resolution digital photography. However, we have also provided Colas with a number of 30 second videos which are suitable for promotional use and for inclusion on blogs and social media platforms.

Given that the flights took place close to a busy motorway and construction plant, safety was an especially important consideration. We worked closely with the site manager to plan the flights, which were conducted safely and successfully. See a 30 second video here:


Wall-top Inspection: North Yorkshire

English Heritage

In recent years, we have used UAVs to inspect and photograph a wide range of ancient monuments and heritage buildings – everything from Stonehenge to castles and stately homes. However, one of the services we are most often called upon to deliver involves wall-top inspections.

Many castles and similar structures have lost their roofs over the years, so the tops of walls are left exposed and unprotected. Frost damage and the growth of plants (and even small trees) can then cause damage to the upper parts of the remaining walls. This poses a problem for those responsible for their maintenance, because they are often very difficult to access and inspect.

The introduction of drone-based photography and video has offered such professionals an important new tool and, in recent years, this has become a regular feature of our work. One such project took place at Easby Abbey in North Yorkshire.

The abbey was founded in 1152 and operated for nearly four centuries, until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. When it was abandoned in 1536, it fell quickly into ruin, although it remained a striking location that has inspired visitors and painters ever since.

Here, the Estates Department of English Heritage, which maintains the property, asked us to produce a detailed photographic record of the wall-tops. This we did, and from the photos we built our own 3D model, predominantly to verify that we had secured all the images we needed and the necessary degree of overlap. We supplied the photographs to English Heritage, which then built its own model for maintenance planning and record-keeping.

More information and photos of Easby Abbey can be found on the English Heritage website:


Flood Defences Progress Record: Warrington

Galliford Try / Environment Agency

Another role we regularly perform is to record progress on large flood defence projects. In a previous newsletter, we described our work on the River Ouse in York, but we have also conducted a more recent survey in Warrington.

Here, the Environment Agency commissioned Galliford Try to manage a £34 million flood defence scheme, which is designed to protect more than two thousand local homes and businesses.

The website notes that “The scheme is one of the largest value flood defence projects constructed in the region in recent times, and will significantly reduce flood risk to the town, which has been no stranger to flooding – given that it sits in naturally low-lying land and within the path of the River Mersey and its tributaries.”

Featuring  5km of flood walls and 2.2km of embankment, the scheme not only protects local properties; it also enhances the area’s ecological value to wetland-living birds, insects and mammals.

 We were brought in to record the final stages of the scheme, to show how the work was safeguarding local homes and creating valuable wildlife habitats. We took photographs and video, and the resulting footage can now be seen on the ‘EnvironmentAgencyTV’ channel on YouTube.

Once again, this project demonstrated how safely and effectively drone-based cameras can record large-scale works, particularly from positions over water that might be difficult or dangerous for human inspectors to access.


Other News in Brief


Having been listed on two lots of Historic England’s latest framework –  Building Survey and Topographic Survey – we’ve been busy delivering a number of aerial projects for the organisation.

One entailed an aerial survey of a Grade-listed house that had been damaged by fire. Another involved securing aerial video of an 18th century castle in the south of England. Our HD footage was edited into a promotional video, which we hope will be made public shortly. Please look out for further details in a future newsletter or via our social media platforms. In recent months, we’ve also purchased our second copy of Agisoft Metashape Pro, a professional photogrammetry package. Having a second licence enables us to use a second computer on busy days when we are doing intensive 3D modelling work. The investment is speeding our processes and giving us valuable additional capacity.


Further Information

For details of all our latest survey, construction, video, heritage and archaeological projects, please visit our online gallery .

If you have any questions or if you’d like to discuss a project of your own, we’d be delighted to hear from you. Please call us on 07842 766 679 or email me at

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