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Environmental consultancy Franks Portlock is providing a helping hand to talented young climber Will Duncan – competing to reach new heights nationally.

Thirteen-year-old Will, who began climbing as a hobby six years ago, is now one of the country’s top young athletes and was recently selected to be part of the GB Climbing England Regional Squad.Having achieved continued success at regional-level competitions in the North East, trials then followed with GB Climbing, first in London, and then in Sheffield, leading to Will officially becoming part of the England Regional Squad. Most recently, his skills moved up another notch when he landed third-place podium positions at the All Nations Scottish Bouldering Championships, and the All Nations Irish Lead Championships.

Climber Will Duncan with Carmel Hodgson, Human Resources Manager at Franks Portlock, at Sunderland Wall, Pallion Quay.

Like all athletes, Will needs to maintain a high level of skill and success, accessing high-quality coaching, and raising funds which will allow him to climb at national competitions. That’s where one of the North East’s leading environmental management consultancies has stepped in to support the teen’s ambitions with sponsorship.

Since launching Franks Portlock in 2006, Phil Franks, alongside Stephen Portlock, say the company continually looks at ways to sponsor young people to achieve their goals and ambitions, as well as supporting projects that make a difference to local communities, through its Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives.

Phil says: “We’ve been incredibly impressed with Will’s commitment to climbing and determination to succeed. It’s fantastic news, and of course no surprise, that he has now landed a place in the GB England Regional Squad. 

Will Duncan at Sunderland Wall, Pallion Quay.

“We hope supporting him with this sponsorship in the early stages of his journey will help towards achieving his goals, and we wish him every success. We’d love to see him competing at the Olympics in the future, he’s certainly got the talent and drive to get there!”

Stephen adds: “As a company that is growing nationally, it’s incredibly important for us to give something back to the region where the first roots of our own journey were laid 18 years ago, with our head office firmly established in Sunderland. 

“Developing and nurturing the next generation of talent, whether that is through sponsorship or employment opportunities, is part of our journey and helps shape our values, and we will continue to play our part in supporting success.”

Will’s dad, Scott Duncan, from South Shields, Tyne and Wear, said: “The sponsorship from Franks Portlock has helped massively towards the costs of the 2024 climbing competition season including the All Nations series in Ireland and Scotland.”

Will adds: “I’m really pleased to have been selected for the GB Climbing England Regional Squad and I’m really looking forward to competing this year and training with GB.”  

His future goals are also clear, as Will says: “I want to make it to the Olympics in the future, and sponsorship like this just helps me get closer to achieving my dream.”

Photo Credit: David James Wood

We are delighted to have been awarded a three-year contract to provide asbestos services to Sellafield Limited.

The comprehensive scope of the contract includes the provision of asbestos surveys and re-inspections, sample collection and analysis, analytical monitoring services, site management of abatement works, asbestos technical specification and project management.

The new three-year contract, which has an additional one-year option, will allow us to maintain our role as a Tier 2 supplier to Sellafield Ltd, a status we have held since we commenced work with Sellafield Ltd in 2014 when we were awarded a contract to provide asbestos analytical services worth £2 million.

James New, Sellafield Site Contract Manager and North West Regional Manager at Franks Portlock, commented: “We are delighted to be awarded this three-year (plus 1) contract with Sellafield Ltd and to announce our continued support to both Sellafield Ltd and the wider nuclear industry. In addition, the expansion into full asbestos service provision means we can look forward to developing and growing our relationships and support within the nuclear supply chain, as well as within the local West Cumbria community.

“Our contract award is due significantly to the disciplined, safe working and professional standards attained by our Sellafield site team over the last six years and is a testament to the pride they take in their roles as nuclear professionals. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Franks Portlock team, with special recognition to Alex Edminson and Lawrence Clack for all their hard work and support.”

“We are looking forward to collaborating with Sellafield Ltd in a collaborative approach to the framework, using our knowledge and expertise to provide Sellafield with a strong and dynamic model for asbestos management.”

For more information on our work within the nuclear sector, click here.

We are delighted to have bolstered our offering with the launch of water hygiene services which support our clients in managing the risks associated with Legionella.

We now offer a range of water hygiene services.  This includes compliance management; risk assessments and control measures; cleaning and disinfection; the installation, refurbishment, servicing, design and supply of plant and equipment; the modification, monitoring and inspection of hot and cold water systems; and training for both groups and individuals.

To lead the new water hygiene services, we appointed Sean Green as head of operations (water hygiene). With more than 29 years’ sector experience, Sean is a member of the Water Management Society, the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme and Approved Plumbers’ Scheme. Sean holds a breadth of industry qualifications including City and Guilds BS2 Control of Legionella in Hot and Cold Water Systems, City and Guilds BS4 Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment of Water Systems within Buildings and IOSH Managing Safety and Water Supply fitting regulation.

Phil Franks, technical director at Franks Portlock, said: “I am pleased to officially launch our water hygiene services into the market. This area of environmental consultancy is something we have been looking to move into for quite some time given its synergy with our asbestos management services and following an increasing demand from our customers.

“We’re continually looking to better assist our clients’ commitment to health and safety, I am therefore thrilled that we are able to respond so effectively to our clients’ requirements, particularly during such challenging times.”

Sean Green, head of business operations for water hygiene at Franks Portlock, said: “As a leading environmental consultancy, it is great that Franks Portlock has further expanded its offering to include water hygiene and I am delighted to be spearheading the delivery of these services.

“Through the provision of our water hygiene services, alongside our personal and responsive customer service, we aim to ensure our clients are managing their liability and meeting the correct regulations with regards to water hygiene, as well as making economic and sustainable improvements. Due to the outbreak of Covid-19 many clients are unsure of their obligations and how safest to proceed, our priority is to help them navigate these uncertain times.”

We specialise in helping organisations manage workplace and environmental risk in order to comply with UK safety regulations and we have the technical capabilities and expertise to undertake projects of any scale whether large or small. Our team works across a wide range of sectors and no job is too big or too small – whether you are a large organisation with multiple sites, or a single dwelling, we are here to support you.

You can find more information on our water hygiene services here or contact our team to find out how we can support you here.

The Health and Safety at Work Act still applies in the current situation and as such an employer or those in control of premises must continue to manage any risk arising from their activity and this includes Legionella control. Dutyholders implicated in an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease resulting from actions taken for COVID-19 precautions are not likely to have any exemption from prosecution.

While controls in place may need to be adapted to changing circumstances, Dutyholders must still be able to demonstrate control of risk to a reasonably practicable level. Many Legionella control activities are monitoring measures rather than interventions and there may be some flexibility in how these are maintained during the COVID-19 situation. Other systems may require interventions by service providers to remain safe and these should not be neglected.  Each system should be considered individually.

Our Advice

Our recommendation is to always follow the latest government advice available at on measures to take and how to work.

Each Dutyholder must make their own determination for each circumstance, but the following principles should be considered when making decisions on what to do to control Legionella during the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • The expectation for water systems supplying critical services, for example health care, is that they will be maintained as usual – there is no leeway in this
  • Hot and cold-water systems in buildings that are empty or with under occupancy must address the issue of stagnation
  • If the building is still partially in use take additional measures to keep the remaining occupants safe
  • Buildings that are temporarily shut down (mothballed) should follow the guidance in HSG274 Part 2 paragraphs 2.50-2.52

Decommissioning of water systems within buildings should be undertaken by a specialist as it’s not as simple as draining down the systems. Systems are normally left filled with water for mothballing and not drained down, as moisture will remain within the system enabling biofilm to develop where there are pockets of water or high humidity. The water in the system also helps to avoid other problems associated with systems drying out, including failure of tank joints and corrosion in metal pipework.

Recommissioning of water systems within buildings should be undertaken by people who are trained and competent to do so, due to the potential increased levels of biological activity. RPE should be worn and specialist measures undertaken to ensure the system is brought back online safely.

Sampling to BS7592 should be considered to ensure the system is fit to be placed back in service, these samples should be taken 2-7 days post commissioning and analysed at a UKAS registered laboratory which is accredited to undertake the sample type required. Follow up samples may need to be considered as part of the recommissioning plan.

As a leading environmental consultancy, Franks Portlock can assist with all the above and we train our staff in personal hygiene and hand washing, reducing the risk of infection and contamination, with the use of alcoholic wipes and hand sanitisers. Site work must be kept to an absolute minimum, however where this is unavoidable, Franks Portlock staff follow the government guidelines to reduce the risks of contamination and have a wealth of experience in avoiding cross contamination due to years of working with hazardous and carcinogenic substances.

Added Value

At Franks Portlock we have over 100 years of combined experience in environmental matters, including the disinfection and control of pathogens. During these unprecedented times, we offer, in addition to the Water Hygiene work, infection control, by the implementation of high traffic area disinfection.

For Franks Portlock Consulting Limited

Sean Green, Head of Business Operations (Water Hygiene)

If you need any further advice or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

We are delighted to have been shortlisted for the Health and Safety Team of The Year Award, sponsored by NEBOSH, for the Safety & Health Excellence Awards.

This category is designed to recognise health and safety teams that are making a significant difference in their workplace, and we have been shortlisted for our Sellafield-based team.

The Awards will be hosted at the VOX in Resorts World, NEC Birmingham on 22 September 2020, running at the same time as The Health and Safety Event which is being held at the NEC. Last year more than 525 people attended the gala dinner, which will this year be hosted by popular comedian Hugh Dennis.

More than 200 entries were made for the Awards and were judged by an esteemed list of judges who are industry experts.

Phil Franks, Technical Director at Franks Portlock, said: “It is an honour to be shortlisted for the Health and Safety Team of The Year Award. These are challenging times and it has been a great boost to receive such fantastic news.

“As an organisation working within asbestos consultancy and water hygiene, public health is at the heart of what we do. It is wonderful that our team’s hard work has been recognised, particularly as our team nationwide are working hard to navigate this difficult time as safely and efficiently as possible, whilst still delivering the highest quality services for our clients.”

For more information on how we are working and the measures we have put in place, please read our Covid-19 statement here.

COVID-19 (CV-19) poses a real and significant threat to the most vulnerable in our society and as an organisation working within asbestos consultancy and water hygiene, public health is at the heart of what we do.

We’re committed to play our part in helping to restrict the spread of the virus by following the latest UK Government and NHS advice.


  • Practicing good levels of hygiene in our premises and when at our clients’ sites, complying fully with any specific local arrangements
  • Making our staff fully aware of the need to self-isolate if they experience symptoms or where they are at a high risk of infection due to travel or close proximity to anyone testing positive
  • Further site risk assessment measures specific to CV-19
  • Avoiding any non-essential meetings or gatherings for the time being
  • Put in place processes and procedures to enable staff to work from home where practicable to do so
  • Keeping in touch with our customers and maintaining good communications throughout

More information can be found at Gov.ukHealth Protection Scotland, and Public Health England. We will be keeping up to date with all the latest guidance and will update our policies and procedures in response to this evolving and fast-moving pandemic.

We look forward to working with suppliers and clients alike to navigate this difficult time as safely and efficiently as possible.

For Franks Portlock Consulting Limited

Phil Franks, Director.

If you have any queries, please contact the Franks Portlock team here.

We are delighted to announce we have appointed Richard Haigh as operations manager.

Richard has more than 15 years’ experience within the asbestos consultancy industry. His most recent position was within operations management in which his focus was on developing client relationships to achieve and understand their individual requirements.

In his role as operations manager at Franks Portlock, Richard will be responsible for overseeing asbestos management and consultancy operations nationwide, with a particular focus on contract delivery performance in coordination with our regional management staff and dedicated project management staff.

Richard’s appointment comes at a time of sustained growth for Franks Portlock as in recent months we have strengthened our national teams with the appointment of Natasha Wilson as a trainee asbestos analyst and Amber Thomson as an asbestos analyst.

In addition, Sean Green has recently joined us as head of operations for water hygiene, a range of new services which are set to launch in Spring 2020. This will include a full consultancy service from client training, compliance management, risk assessment, monitoring, design and supply, rectification, and the modification and maintenance of hot and cold water systems.

Commenting on his appointment, Richard Haigh, operations manager at Franks Portlock, said: “Franks Portlock is renowned for its commitment to quality and its focus on the service and close relationships it provides its clients with, an ethos that I share. I am therefore delighted to join the Franks Portlock team.

“The past twelve months has been a year of continued growth for Franks Portlock and the company has clear ambitions for future expansion and advancement to meet the ever-changing requirements of the asbestos and water hygiene industries. I am looking forward to utilising my industry experience and working together with my colleagues to achieve these defined targets.”

Phil Franks, technical director at Franks Portlock, said: “Richard boasts a breadth of industry knowledge and operations management expertise which I am confident will prove invaluable in the delivery and implementation of our growth strategy – it is my pleasure to welcome him to Franks Portlock.”

Franks Portlock specialises in helping organisations manage workplace and environmental risk in order to comply with UK safety regulations and has the technical capabilities and expertise to undertake projects of any scale whether large or small.

We work with organisations across a range of sectors, from the marine and nuclear industries to healthcare, residential and retail, both on a regional and national level.

Find out more about our services here.

At Franks Portlock, we work hard to ensure that we have a positive impact in the environments and communities we work in. Here, Cathryn Dickinson, Administrator (Company and Technical) and member of the Franks Portlock Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Team provides and insight into our 2019 CSR activity.

Please provide an overview of your CSR activity in 2019

2019 was my first year as a member of the Franks Portlock Corporate Social Responsibility Team and it was a very busy year at that! Within my role, I am based at the Franks Portlock HQ in Sunderland, and one of the things I really enjoyed about joining our CSR Team was working with colleagues in our other offices and discovering what they were doing in their communities to make a difference.

In 2019 we were able to help some great charities throughout the UK, from North Tyneside Learning Trust to Children’s Hospices Across Scotland and Hospice at Home West Cumbria, as well as many more. I loved finding out about these organisations and the great work they’re doing but I was also surprised to learn how much support they need. For example, Hospice at Home West Cumbria needs to raise over £1 million each year to deliver its vital services. That’s why we chose to support its Kapow! Superhero Challenge in Cockermouth again last summer. It was a fantastic opportunity to get the whole company together, including family and friends, for a fun day out whilst supporting a truly worthy cause. We assembled our very own superhero squad of Wonder Women, Captain America and Harley Quinn who travelled from all over the UK for the day. The kids had a brilliant day and loved the giant inflatables, slides, tunnels and foam-filled finish.

Closer to home, this year I worked a lot with Grace House in Sunderland. They provide overnight short breaks for children and young people with additional needs, from across the North East. We also moved our monthly CSR Team Meeting into their meeting room, mainly to use the great facilities, but over the year this really helped me understand the work they do and why it’s so important. This was probably what helped me to sell so many of their raffle tickets, including a winning one!

What does CSR mean to Franks Portlock?

At Franks Portlock, we believe Corporate Social Responsibility is a way to assess the impact we have on society and is an acknowledgement that we understand our responsibility towards our environment, employees, customers, community and suppliers. We are committed to being a socially responsible business internally and externally, and to do this we integrate our CSR commitments into business decisions, minimising the impact our business has on the environments we operate in, and finding and supporting great people to work for us. Our CSR policy is underpinned by our company policies to embed this thinking in our culture.

In addition, for our employees, CSR work provides a great opportunity for team building, staff engagement and overall it is a great boost for morale.

Do you have any advice for businesses looking to implement their own CSR strategy?

One of the most important elements of a successful CSR strategy is employee engagement. Stephen and Phil wanted us to work really hard in 2019 to try and give all our employees the power to decide what’s important to them when it comes to CSR. We asked everyone to vote for the charities or causes they want to support and to put forward suggestions for other ways we can operate ethically and contribute more. Some of the ideas are exciting (and a bit daunting!) which means we have some great things to look forward to throughout 2020. We will be sharing more information in the coming months about our 2020 CSR work – so please do keep an eye out!

Find out more about our Social Responsibility here:

As 2019 draws to a close, our Technical Director, Phil Franks, reflects on the year and provides an insight into what 2020 holds for Franks Portlock and the industry.

How would you summarise 2019? 

I would summarise 2019 as a truly exciting time of growth and development for Franks Portlock. We have been operating for more than a decade and overall 2019 will see record turnover for us, this is encouraging in such a competitive market.

Throughout the year we have further strengthened our team with new appointments spanning a range of levels and geographical locations. This includes the creation of two new roles for key appointments: Sean Green who has more than 29 years’ industry experience has joined us as Head Of Operations for Water Hygiene to establish and lead the delivery of our new water hygiene services; and Richard Haigh has recently been employed as Operations Manager in which he will oversee asbestos management and consultancy operations nationwide to ensure we are serving our new and existing clients to the highest standards.

In addition, we have worked on a breadth of new projects including the Brent Bravo and have been appointed to new frameworks such as Scotland Excel. I am confident all these factors have contributed to a successful year.

What’s been your biggest business highlight this year? 

A core milestone for us has been achieving our Legionella Control Association certification, a necessity in the water hygiene sector. This allows us to access this diverse, challenging and rewarding area of environmental consultancy, something I’ve been looking to move into for quite some time.

Is there a business lesson you’ve learnt in 2019? 

2019 has been a fantastic year of growth for Franks Portlock and one of the reasons for this has been our approach to business opportunities and prospects. This year, we have continually sought out new opportunities and we have not been afraid to step outside our bubble to challenge our own status quo. To sit still is to move backwards, as the cliché goes! This is an approach and lesson I will be driving forward into 2020 and the years to come.

What changes have you witnessed within the industry in 2019?

Throughout 2019, we have seen an increase in clients requesting complete ‘wrap-around’ asbestos consultancy services, to enable them to focus on their own workloads. In line with the growing demands, we now offer our clients bespoke asbestos management and consultancy packages inclusive of management, inspections, testing and reporting.

What industry changes or advancements do you anticipate for 2020?

For asbestos consultancy, we anticipate updates to the HSG248 and subsequently further tightening and improvement of general industry standards.

Within the water hygiene industry, a major overhaul of the industry guidance in 2013 means there aren’t too many changes on the horizon, however, there is a tendency to move towards remote sensing and monitoring as part of a management plan. However, such devices complement the current management systems rather than replace the need for suitably qualified staff.

Looking ahead, what will 2020 bring for Franks Portlock? 

I am confident that 2020 will be an exciting time for Franks Portlock as we continue to improve and enhance our asbestos consultancy offering and we make in-roads into the water hygiene sector. To support this growth and to further strengthen our national presence, we also hope to open more remote offices to better serve clients at a local level.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our team for their continued hard work and dedication and to our customers for their loyalty and the opportunities they provide us – we look forward to working with you in the new year.

For more information on our services and how we can help your business in 2020 and beyond, please contact us.

We have appointed a new Trainee Asbestos Analyst to further strengthen and support our growing analysis team.

Natasha Wilson begins her career at Franks Portlock as a Trainee Asbestos Analyst. Her responsibilities include supporting our trained expert analysts with their air monitoring processes to ensure that residual fibre concentrations are below the clearance indicator level, or to ascertain whether airborne fibres are present in a given location. She is also involved in job reporting for a cross-section of our asbestos analysis projects.

Natasha is new to the asbestos management industry and is currently working towards her asbestos fibre counting qualification (P403) and has already undertaken UKATA certified Asbestos Awareness Training and onsite training.

Commenting on her role, Natasha said: “I was keen to change my career path and take on a new challenge, so when I heard about the role at Franks Portlock, I was really eager to secure it and begin developing my skills in a completely new career. I am also looking forward to gaining additional qualifications and furthering my professional development.”

Technical Director, Phil Franks said: “At Franks Portlock we are passionate about encouraging and inspiring careers in asbestos management and consultancy, so I am thrilled to have Natasha on board and begin her career with Franks Portlock.

“Natasha demonstrates a continual drive to further develop her skills and qualifications in the industry and we are fully committed to providing her with the support she needs. I am confident she will quickly progress and become a fully trained Asbestos Analyst in the near future.”

To find out more about the services that Franks Portlock offers, click here >