Drone Technology Saves the Environment Agency £8,300

Case study

120+ Years Experience Over 120 years' experience
Teamwork Teamwork
Drones Drone Inspection Services
Ambitious Ambitious
Bespoke courses available Bespoke courses available

Traditionally the Environment Agency has undertaken surveys of culverts using specialist man-entry teams to gather information on asset condition and check conveyance.

But this can be costly, time consuming and introduces risk for those working in the confined space. Furthermore, obtaining footage of the asset can be difficult and the quality of film or photographs taken by the man-entry team may not always provide an overall picture of the asset condition.

The East Midlands team has been trialling a different approach and MRS Training & Rescue conducted an initial trial back in 2022 to test the capability of our internal drone to inspect a culvert, surveying the confined space. Since that initial trial, we have conducted three other culvert inspections using our drone.

These four surveys have included high risk reservoirs and achieved an £8,300 efficiency saving for the agency.

To demonstrate the capabilities of the new drone technology, Alan Lovell, Chair of the Environment Agency, was invited to the site of the former metal box factory in Mansfield in April 2023, to witness first hand how drones can not only save time, money and reduce risk, but also improve the incident response capability of the Environment Agency in England.

Former Metal Box Factory in Mansfield

The East Midlands Environment agency have been consulted on a planning application for residential properties at the former Metal Box factory in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. The now cleared factory site had once been a major employer in the town for over 100 years and was well known for making Quality Street tins until it closed for business in 2010. Now only the clock tower remains as a local landmark and reminder of the site’s industrial past.

This once iconic site is strategic brownfield land in need of regeneration and the river Maun runs through the site in culverts.

These culverts need inspecting to determine if the land is suitable to be built upon.

Drone Flights

Our experienced drone pilot, Liam Spencer, undertook a few flights into the culverted River Maun, entering through a utility access hole and flying the drone into the right bank of the culvert to inspect the assets. During the first flight, a blockage in the culvert was identified, and a second flight provided more detailed footage of that blockage for the Environment Agency to review.

The detailed footage enables the agency to plot where the problem is and potentially excavate from the surface, avoiding the need to send anyone into the confined space.

Successful flights

Alan was able to witness first-hand the benefits of the new technology and is now looking at recommending it be used throughout England for similar inspections to reduce cost, time and risk.

I just wanted to pass on my thanks to you and your team for the hard work that’s been undertaken on the Metal Box culvert project. Over the past 15 years of working with MRS, either attending courses, servicing of confined space equipment and more recently Drone surveys, your team have always been welcoming and offering a first-class service, but Liam and Kelly have really stood out recently with the Drone Surveys. Kelly has always been on the end of the phone or email ready to answer any questions I have got, ensuring that everything is ready to go, sometimes at short notice and keeping me informed of the progress. Liam has been outstanding with the Drone project, really going the extra mile to give a first-class service. The recent Drone survey that Liam undertook has been brilliant, which has provided the Environment Agency with the data we need to make more informed decisions on a planning issue.
Neil Whitehead, Flood and Coastal Risk Management Technical Advisor for the Environment Agency - East Midlands Area
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