2nd September 2019

Double acquisition for RSK Group

RSK Group Ltd, the UK’s leading integrated environmental, engineering and technical services consultancy, has acquired two businesses: Biocensus, an ecological consultancy and Consents Solutions Ltd, a wayleave business. The acquisitions are the first of this financial year. In the 2018/2019 financial year, RSK acquired 12 businesses and expanded its workforce from about 2000 staff to more than 3000. Dow Schofield Watts Transaction Services LLP and Dow Schofield Watts Corporate Finance Ltd advised RSK during the deals.

Biocensus is a leading ecological consultancy with a network of more than 700 highly skilled and experienced UK-based ecologists. The company has offices in Bath and Stroud, UK, and works on a wide range of projects with a focus on large infrastructure developments. Biocensus delivers ecological services to the business community at the strategic and project levels. It provides guidance and support on the development of biodiversity footprinting at the corporate strategic level and project-specific work such as surveys, ecological impact assessments, protected species surveys, mitigation measures and monitoring.

The existing Biocensus ecological services will merge with RSK’s ecological division to form RSK Biocensus. Stephanie Wray, chair of Biocensus, will lead the integrated business under the direction of RSK environment and planning divisional director Sarah Mogford.

Biocensus’s current workload focuses primarily on large infrastructure projects. As a major supplier of ecologists to rail projects, the company uses its national network of quality-assured ecologists to respond rapidly to requirements as they arise. At the height of the ecology survey season, Biocensus regularly supplies teams of 40+ active ecologists.

Additionally, Biocensus can advise clients on data analysis, contribute to environmental statements and provide expert witness services. For example, for the East West Rail project, Biocensus rapidly assembled a team of 10 expert consultants who worked closely with the client’s project team to ensure on-time delivery of the environmental statement.

Consents Solutions Ltd has bases in Cambridge and King’s Lynn, UK, and specialises in managing the complete consents process for utility and renewable installation processes, from route identification and feasibility studies through to landowner consent completion and infrastructure consent applications. The company will become part of RSK’s agriculture, land and property management division. Richard Spooner, managing director of Consents Solutions, will lead the business under the direction of RSK director Ian Strudwick.

Consents Solutions counts several leading energy-sector businesses among its clients. It recently worked on the new anaerobic digestion plant and mushroom farm under construction at May Farm, Littleport, UK, for Shropshire Energy (UK) Ltd. Once the project is active, it will generate about 2.4 MW of green energy from vegetable waste and locally grown maize. Consents Solutions undertook a route-proving exercise to examine the route to the site from an existing local electricity network that resulted in a shorter circuit and a cost benefit to the client.

“Biocensus and Consents Solutions are two fantastic businesses with their clients’ needs at their hearts,” said RSK’s founder and chief executive officer Alan Ryder. “Biocensus’s team of passionate ecologists offers a pragmatic and high-quality ecological resource and helps clients to achieve their development objectives. Consents Solutions is an established and renowned service provider within the energy sector with a proven track record of delivery. Both businesses will extend RSK’s service offering, so I am delighted to welcome them aboard.”

Stephanie Wray, chair of the board of Biocensus, commented, “We are delighted to be joining RSK at this exciting time for UK infrastructure projects. The discipline of ecology has never been more in demand or high profile in the delivery of sustainable development. I believe that the combination of RSK’s large team of in-house ecologists and Biocensus’s unrivalled supplier network will be game changing.”

“Joining the RSK group will give Consents Solutions a major platform and the support to increase the size of its business within the consenting sector,” remarked managing director, Richard Spooner. “I am excited at the opportunity and look forward to the synergies created between our businesses.”

Biocensus and Consents Solutions are the latest acquisitions under RSK’s funding package from Ares Capital Europe and a revolving credit facility provided by NatWest announced in December 2018. The fast-growing company is investing in the development of new businesses, bolt-on complementary businesses, equipment and capabilities to increase its services and to expand internationally. RSK now employs more than 3000 staff in more than 100 offices worldwide and has an annual turnover in excess of £250 million.