North West

General Information

The Association of Cost Engineers Annual Report 2018-19

The NW region Report

The NW region Committee consists of Mark Coburn, Director of Solomons Europe (Chairman), Rosie Dutton (Secretary)  ACostE Engineering Committee, Nigel Hibberd ACostE Council, James Evans of URENCO Ltd, Ken Phillips Retired  and Mark Weaver of International Nuclear Services.  Dominic Doig remains Chairman in the Cumbria region.

The following meetings have been held over 2019:

  • The first meeting was held at The Centre, Birchwood, on 13th February.  This was a joint seminar with Solomons Europe and was a presentation by John Rossiter, our resident NEC3® expert and a Director of Solomons, entitled ‘NEC3® - Defined Costs and Disallowed Costs’.  This seminar was another well supported event attracting nearly 50 attendees and provided all of those who attended expert level knowledge.  The NEC3® and NEC4® seminars will be continuing events going forward.
  • At the yearly planning meeting, the committee wanted to try and do something a little different for one of the events planned this year and decided that a ‘site visit’ would be a good choice.  After inquiring with a number of locations, a visit was arranged to Fiddlers Ferry Power Station for 15th April 2019.  This is a gas-fired power station, located near Warrington, Cheshire, which is also capable of co-firing biomass.  The station is due to close on 31st March 2020, so it was nice to get the opportunity to visit before it closes for good.  The event attracted 12 attendees - 3 less than the maximum allowable number. The committee found difficulty getting permission from a number of sites that were suggested and; if a further site visit is planned for next year, it might be worth looking at live construction sites that are near completion.
  • On 22nd May 2019, the committee planned to hold an update from a previous event held in 2017, with speakers from both Manchester Airport Group (MAG) and High Speed Rail 2/2a.  The projects are potentially two of the largest construction and engineering projects in the North West over the next 10-20 years. Unfortunately the HS2 speaker had to cancel, but the representative from MAG gave a fantastic presentation that more than made up.  This event was held at a new venue - Irlam Railway Station - as part of a move to look at more economic venues. Although there were only 15 attendees, the presentation was enjoyed by all. 
  • The planned summer social event on 15th July had to be cancelled.
  • An IR35 event was planned for September, because of its impact on the agency supplied workers in our skill sector.  Whilst held successfully in Cumbria it is still pending for the Risley area because of the current uncertainty following Brexit, which has created a lack of clarity as to how IR35 is to be delivered. This delayed the rest of the programme of events for 2019

The NW Committee Events plan for 2020 is as follows:






TBC , will be scheduled once we have more clear understanding of IR35 implementation

IR 35 Changes
This is being changed, how does it affect the agency supplied workers.

Changes to IR35 were supposed to be introduced in April 20. Because of the effect of Brexit the Government is reconsidering the workability of this, and our speaker feels it is better to delay until the implementation is better defined, as implementation is now likely to be later than April 20 

Armstrong Watson

Birchwood Conference Centre, near Warrington 
5:30 for 6PM

25th  Mar 20

25th  Mar 20 
Estimating Major Projects at Sellafield Ltd 

The highest hazard site in Europe. 

  • On only a 6 Sq. km, 24/7 operating  plant , Project delivery and construction takes place in parallel with decommissioning , demolition, nuclear material and waste management activities. 
  • The complex interactions between facilities on the site and their physical proximity make it difficult to set boundaries and deliver projects in isolation
  • Most of the major projects at Sellafield are complex and unique nuclear chemical engineering projects.

John’s talk provides an insight into the challenges of Estimating Major Projects at Sellafield  including:

  • Optimism Bias & Reference Class Forecasting
  • Programme & Project Partners – PPP – Major Project Delivery 
  • Benchmarking

John Millington, Head of Estimating, Sellafield Ltd


Irlam Station
5:30 for 6PM


14th  May 20

Project Control in the consultancy sector

Gardiner & Theobald is an independent construction and property consultancy working across all sectors of the built environment. They focus on minimising risk and creating opportunities to maximise the value of our clients’ developments and property assets. Within their Project Leadership team they have a Professional Project Control team.

Mark Mills of

Irlam Station
5:30 for 6PM

15th Jul 20

Principles of strategic Project Management

As Project Management has continued to develop to encompass portfolios, programmes and projects, this has led to a structure through which corporate strategy can be cascaded all the way from top to bottom of the organisation. Shane will begin by discussing some of the basic principles of strategic management and explain the impact of the emergence of portfolio, portfolios, programmes and project management

Shane Forth of Go Forth Consultancy

Irlam Station
5:30 for 6PM

23rd Sept 20

NEC 4 Update and Improved Collaboration

John will give us his insight into the key workings and issues of NEC4 and how it working now it has been in place for a couple of years, and highlight any improvements that have been made in that time

John Rossiter, Director of Solmons Europe

Birchwood Conference Centre , near Warrington 
5:30 for 6PM

18th Nov 20

The Dark side of Projects

The dark side of projects is real and timely. Today governments and NGOs are compiling an increasing number of studies on the dark side of projects. For example, slavery is still a modern problem and shockingly high: in the United Kingdom (GOV.UK, 2019) is 13,000 and rising rapidly (IMGMS, 2018)
Corruption is also a common problem. For example,  Transparency International, a leading global anti-corruption 

organization, published that the European Commission estimates that €120 billion (around US$163 billion) is lost each year to corruption, particularly in public procurement, which is the practice behind the eliciting and development of projects in the public sector (Kühn & Sherman, 2014). According to Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) estimates, money drained through corruption amounts to between 20% and 25% of the procurement budget, which amounts to approximately US$2 trillion annually (Transparency International, 2014).

The dark side of projects can also take on more nuanced forms. For example, through the waste of resources and public money on, for example, unused infrastructure and stadiums and the approval and execution of clearly questionable projects, such as a ski ramp in the middle of the desert5.

For us the issue is how prevalent is corruption on mega projects in the UK?

Giorgio’s talk explores this modern day phenomena and suggests areas we should look at and possible strategies to avoid these risks.

See Giorgio’s paper


Dr Giorgio Locatelli, Leeds University

Birchwood Conference Centre , near Warrington


The committee would like to thank all the members who attended our events and made them a success.  We look forward to meeting more of our NW community in the coming year. 

Volunteers for the NW region organising committee are always welcome.  Anyone wishing to volunteer should contact us through the Sandbach office 01270 764 798.
Similarly, any NW volunteers willing to present a topic of mutual interest for 45 minutes to 1 hour is also asked to contact the Sandbach office.

">NW Committee

Mark Coburn (Chairman)

Rosie Dutton (Secretary)

Nigel Hibberd

James Evans

Ken Phillips

Mark Weaver

Dominic Doig (Chairman – Cumbria region)

January 2020