• How can stormwater prepare Queensland for the next drought? - part one

    Friday, May 15, 2015

    Every farmer relies on a steady water supply to sustain his or her operations. The resource is an essential part of life - it doesn't take a scientist to figure that out.

    However, the world does need engineers knowledgeable of water conservation and distribution. Right now, Queensland is in need of such experts.

    When will drought relief come? 

    80 percent of Queensland is experiencing severe water shortages.

    Billy Byrne, minister for agriculture and fisheries, released a statement on behalf of the Queensland government, stating that four council areas were recently added to the state's list of municipalities officially suffering from drought.

    These inclusions mean that more than 80 percent of Queensland is experiencing severe water shortages. The state government has responded to this challenge by offering farmers in certain municipalities Drought Relief Assistance. 

    "The Palaszczuk Government made a commitment before the state election in January and I have made numerous announcements since promising that we will not leave Queensland's drought-affected farmers in the lurch," said Byrne.

    Can storms offer salvation? 

    For some people living in Queensland, particularly in the southeast, it may be difficult to imagine that a drought is even on the state's list of concerns.

    In an April 30 press release, Police, Fire and Emergency Services Minister Jo-Ann Miller issued Severe Weather Warning, citing heavy rainfall throughout Southeast Queensland. 

    "As a result, areas along the coast from about the Sunshine Coast to the New South Wales border could experience localised flash flooding," said Ms Miller. 

    The video below shows the effects of the storm on a homeowner's property: 

    This activity brings up an interesting question, one that water engineers have been trying to answer: Is there some way to use stormwater and redistribute it to drought-affected areas? 

    Is such an idea feasible? 

    Although the idea of re-routing stormwater to regions experiencing severe water shortages is quite attractive, some may challenge the concept's practicability. 

    Stormwater harvesting has shown promise in many municipalities. Can engineers find a way to reroute stormwater?

    Suppose a team of engineers wanted to figure out a way to distribute stormwater in the Sunshine Coast to the Banana shire, one of Queensland drought-declared regions. By road, the distance between these two areas is 505 kilometres. 

    This distance may cause the team to write off a water distribution project as unfeasible. Even with modern assets and resources, it would probably take an incredible amount of energy to allocate the stormwater, thereby making such a hypothetical endeavour unrealistic. 

    However, this is only one example. Engineers who aren't daunted by the limitations of modern technology may accept the challenge and figure out a way to establish efficient water distribution networks that span over great distances. 

    In Part Two, we'll discuss a stormwater management plan detailed by the Brisbane City Council and compare it with challenges such systems face. 

  • Brisbane's new sky-high plans

    Wednesday, April 01, 2015

    Brisbane's skyline could soon be changing, as the Queensland government looks to approve a radical new direction for the CBD. The Draft City Centre Neighbourhood Plan outlines the possibility of scrapping mandatory height restrictions in certain areas, which is exciting news for those planning tower blocks in Brisbane's busiest sectors.

    Brisbane City Council recently submitted the plans to the state government, which brings the scheme one step closer to fruition. Created under the Brisbane City Centre Master Plan 2014, the draft reform is aligned to meet growing residential and commercial needs in the burgeoning Queensland capital.

    Overall, the Master Plan sets out various strategies for five key precincts in the CBD, as outlined in the official council video below:

    The draft strategy focuses on the distinctive architecture category, driving public space investments in the business district and inspiring more innovative use of CBD land.

    According to the Brisbane City Council, there are three key objectives for the area that have been threaded through the neighbourhood plan, which include:

    • Accommodating population and economic growth
    • Responding to a changing climate and urban sprawl
    • Improving the city from the 'ground plane'

    The Council expects the five selected areas of the Brisbane CBD to be home to around 50 new skyscrapers over the next 20 years. Speaking to The Brisbane Times, Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said he believes this period of transformation will drive top-class architecture in the city, regardless of the number of actual projects on the go.

    Could Brisbane's skyline be about to change?Could Brisbane's skyline be about to change?

    Reaching for the sky - to a point

    Despite the proposed removal of mandatory height limits, skyscrapers in Brisbane are unlikely to climb to extreme heights. Any new buildings in the area will still need to comply with local aviation regulations.

    In Queensland, this law states that buildings in Brisbane cannot exceed 274 metres. However, what could change is where these towers are located as, under the Draft City Centre Neighbourhood Plan, taller buildings could be built anywhere - aside from the Quay Street or Howard Smith Wharves precincts.

    While the plan is still in its draft stages, the exciting prospect of higher skyscrapers could soon drive demand for more comprehensive engineering planning and strategies. Getting a building above a certain height is challenging, but with the right plans almost anything is possible.

  • Mexican stand off at UDIA Golf Day!

    Monday, December 15, 2014

    140 industry players take aim on Gold Coast icons ....

    Despite the uncertain weather 140 enthusiastic  urban development industry players got together at Palm Meadows Golf Course to battle it out over 18 holes at the annual UDIA Gold Coast/Logan Corporate Golf Day. 

    Burchills Engineering Solutions were proud to sponsor hole number 1 complete with a Mexican themed marquee. Burchills team members, Nicky and Jenny hosted players with a Mexican stand-off game which targeted some of our key projects. With a 40 year local history providing civil and structural consulting engineering for iconic Gold Coast projects, there were plenty of targets to aim for.

    Congratulations to our fast drawing amigo, Brian Henningsen from Australand who took out our hole prize of a 3 course dinner for 2 at the Palazzo Versace. 

    Thank you to everyone who participated we look forward to seeing you again at the next year’s event!

  • Environmental Offsets Made Easy

    Tuesday, December 02, 2014

    Environmental Offsets are a complex and changing issue for those undertaking development projects

    1      What is an Environmental Offset? 
    Environmental offsets are a tool used to compensate for impacts that cannot be otherwise avoided or mitigated. The basic premise of environmental or biodiversity offsets is to achieve a ‘net gain’, or at a minimum, no net loss of biodiversity on the ground. 

    So putting the matter into perspective, when a project proponent wants to develop land – there may be a loss of biodiversity[1] (depending on what was there) which may trigger requirements under the relevant legislation and or planning scheme. Offsets transfer the responsibility of the biodiversity loss to the party causing the loss, by incorporating it into the development conditions of the Project. 

    Offsets were introduced in the 1980s to facilitate development following Australia’s agreement to a number of international treaties addressing the worldwide decline in biodiversity. Offsets are now widely used in all States and Territories, at the Commonwealth, State and Local levels of government. However, before a developer or proponent can utilise offsets on a project, it must be demonstrated to the regulators that the ‘impact’ cannot be avoided or further minimized during the design phase of the Project. 

    2      Why Offset? 

    Australia has seen drastic losses to biodiversity in the last 200 years as a result of land clearing. Queensland’s rate of clearing alone has recently averaged about 100,000 hectares each year and koala habitat in Australia is now less than 10% of what it was 200 years ago. 

    So by halting the decline in biodiversity while allowing development to proceed - Environmental Offsets maintain biodiversity to the benefit of greater society and future generations. 

    3      How do I Offset? 

    The first step in any project is to determine the potential environmental impacts resulting from the proposed development.  During this stage, should there be potential impacts on a Matter of National Environmental Significance (MNES), protected under the provisions of the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), the developer or proponent is legally obliged to refer the project to the Department of Environment (DoE) to determine whether or not the project is deemed a ‘controlled action’ and therefore require assessment under the provisions of the EPBC Act.  This advice should be sought in the first instance, to ensure an efficient and timely ‘referral’ process. Projects that are deemed controlled actions, may have offsets conditioned to mitigate impacts on the affected MNES.

     If offsets have been conditioned by the Commonwealth – offset requirements cannot be duplicated at the State and/or Local levels for the same activity and the same matter (environmental matters are listed in legislation and or regulations by the various administrating authorities) … i.e. no double dipping!! Likewise if the Commonwealth or State assess an activity’s impacts on a matter and determine offsets are not required – offsets cannot be conditioned by any other level of Government for the same matter and activity. 

    At the State level, Offsets may be required when a Matter of State Environmental Significance is impacted by the activities of a project. The Qld Offsets process has recently been overhauled – replacing a complex, multi-policy system with a new framework. The ongoing amendment to other legislation to align with these changes is a work in progress.   

    The new Offset framework introduces “Matters of State Environmental Significance” (MSES) and “Matters of Local Environmental Significance” (MLES). MLES are not yet clearly defined but the Qld Environmental Offsets Act 2014 (EOA) identifies them as a matter that is protected by a Local Government Offset Policy. The Qld Dept. of Environment and Heritage (EHP) have an online mapping portal that allows the proponent to gain an initial understanding of the MSES that may occur on or near a project area. It is recommended however that all mapping be ground-truthed, since based on our experience, it is often inaccurate.  This particularly applies to “MSES – Wildlife Habitat” which was drawn from a number of mapping sources that were not designed for use at the property scale. 

    In terms of delivery – offsets can be provided through a financial settlement or a proponent delivered arrangement usually land-based…. Or a combination of both. 

    The financial settlement option can be a quick and easy way to move to the next stage of development – payment must be made prior to the activity commencing.  A financial settlement calculator is provided online for proponents wishing to calculate the potential cost of their offset project: 

    However, in our experience and under the current framework, financial settlement is often not a financially feasible option and can have a significant impact on a projects viability. 

    Which brings us to the second option – a proponent driven offset package. This may take the form of a land based offset or a Direct Benefit Management Plan (DBMP). The land based option involves finding a suitable land parcel that meets all the defined offset criteria for the matter that is being offset. Wallum Froglet and Wallum Froglet Habitat   

    For example, if Wallum froglet habitat is being impacted by a project, then the offset area will need to be Walllum Froglet Habitat -  or an area of land that Wallum Froglet Habitat   could be returned to Walllum Froglet Habitat (meeting certain criteria) after habitat restoration works and an ongoing management regime. 

    The Direct Benefit Management Plan Option differs from traditional land based offsets and is simply a plan of priority actions that will benefit the specific species or ecosystems that are being affected by the project. This may take the form of funding for an indigenous ranger program or a PhD scholarship that addresses some of the treats. 

    So in summary – tips for avoiding a long and complicated assessment process:  

    • Get in early – determine your projects’ environmental impacts and avoid / reduce those impacts where possible 

    • Ground truth – don’t believe the official mapping! 

    • Get in touch with Burchills and Earthtrade to determine the best offset options for your project. The proponent driven options will usually save a lot of money in the long run.


    For further information and assistance with your project please contact Caroline Kelly or Alan Key

    Caroline Kelly, Principal Environmental Scientist – Burchills: 07 5509 6479 or 

    Alan Key, Managing Director – EarthTrade: 07 4194 5009 or 

    [1] Biodiversity is the full range of plants, animals and micro-organisms, the genes they contain and the ecosystems of which they are part. Biodiversity sustains both our lives and much of our quality of life by providing valuable ecosystem services such as nutrient and water cycling, maintenance of healthy soils, and plant pollination, and as a direct source of raw materials and food.

  • Creating a Winner - Palm Beach Heights

    Tuesday, December 02, 2014

    "The UDIA judges made special mention of the winning team's ability to tap into the surrounding natural features and local and regional infrastructure while cleverly dealing with a range of complex site constraints."  

    Demonstrating an ability to turn a bold project vision into reality, Palm Beach Heights Estate has been awarded the winner of the small residential category at the prestigious 2014 Urban Development Institute of Australia (Queensland Branch) gala awards. Beacon Builders and Burchills Engineering Solutions jointly submitted the project for the awards and joined other project team members Storey & Castle Planners and B&P Surveys in overseeing the total transformation of the site to create client Beacon Builders’ project vision of “Coastal Living, Urban Vibe”.

    A key factor for success was the project's integration with, and enhancement of, the surrounding neighbourhood which has benefited from the new public open space areas, walkways and bikeways, and neighbourhood connectivity. The steep terrain demanded well thought out engineering solutions involving detailed earthworks modelling and featured retaining walls to create attractive level building sites.

    Director of Beacon Builders, Peter Beaconsfield commented "We are thrilled for Palm Beach Heights to have been recognised by the UDIA as an example of urban development excellence. Out of all of the projects our company has completed to date, this has to be one of the most challenging and the most satisfying".

    Mr Beaconsfield said "the award is just recognition of the attention to detail in the design of all facets of the estate and he is looking forward to working with the consulting team again on the next project".

    For further information:

    - Contact Paul Kelly, Burchills Project Team Leader
    - See the full UDIA Awards Palm Beach Heights feature article here
    - Visit the Palm Beach heights website here
    - See all of the 2014 UDIA Award winners here 

  • Reaching for the stars - the new Burchills

    Thursday, July 03, 2014

    The clients and guests of Burchills Engineering Solutions took to the night sky last Thursday as the company celebrated it’s relaunch of the Burchills brand and 40 years of heritage. Held at Skypoint Q1 “the top of the Gold Coast” guests enjoyed great views, fine food, cold drinks, and great company.

    Managing Director, Steve Coote thanked clients and industry partners for their support noting the significance of the evening’s celebrations “Tonight is a special night for the company as we celebrate the return to local ownership and the Burchills brand, and also the significant 40 year heritage and service history of our team…. There is 267 years of continuous service held by just 10 members of our 30 strong team“.

    Steve also took the opportunity to outline the future plans for Burchills Engineering Solutions “We will be focusing on our strengths in helping to get projects up and running in the property and urban infrastructure markets, leveraging our depth of experience and local knowledge for the benefit of our clients, and mentoring our young talent to be the next generation of “go to” professionals”.

    Rob Molhoek, MP for Southport also spoke congratulating the firm, outlining local infrastructure projects & initiatives, and explaining the improving economic & tourism outlook for the Gold Coast & Queensland. Rob made particular note that employment growth in Queensland was the strongest in Australia and within 12 months Queensland’s GDP growth is expected to reach 6-7%.

    The formalities of the evening culminated in the cutting of the Burchills 40 year cake by Tony Parker, industry icon and 40 year service Burchills team member.

    If you would like to have Burchills Engineering Solutions working with your team, please contact Steve at

  • UDIA Congress Wrap Up

    Wednesday, April 09, 2014

    Thank you for visiting our trade booth at the UDIA National Congress and for playing ‘Burchills Bullseye’. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting you all and watching you try your luck at hitting our projects (with some being more successful than others!).  

    Congratulations again to our lucky prize winners. 
    Major Prize Winners:  
    - David Donaldson – Land Partners  
    - Grant Bass – Lauders  
    - Greg Comiskey – Whelans  
    Runners Up:  
    - Peter Leeson – Star 8  
    - Bronwyn Linder – SA Water  
    - Scott Roberts – IBN  
    - Joshua Yates – Golder Associates  
    - Simon Paxton – PICA  

    With more than 250 years of experience, you are in safe hands with Burchills Engineering Solutions. We have completed projects all around Australia and are willing to meet you wherever you are.  Whatever your specific requirements are, we aim to have them satisfied.  Where relevant, we would welcome the opportunity to discuss how Burchills Engineering Solutions could partner with you on your next project.   Thank you again for your eager involvement at our Trade Booth. We look forward to meeting you again soon

  • Join us at the 2014 UDIA National Congress and share your story!

    Monday, February 10, 2014

    The National Congress of the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) will be held in Brisbane between 26th and 28th March 2014 and incorporates an impressive line-up of speakers, study tours, networking events, and the National Awards for Excellence. Burchills Engineering Solutions are proud to be a sponsor partner for the congress and will be showing off our wares as a trade show exhibitor.

    We invite you to visit us at the conference and participate in our booth activities, demonstrations, and chance to win prizes. We are particularly keen to reconnect and share stories with clients and industry partners who have worked with us over the years spanning back to the old Burchill Partner days. If you haven’t booked for the Congress you can here

  • Residential Development finally on the move

    Saturday, February 01, 2014

    It is about time, but residential development in Queensland is on the move. Our clients and industry partners are consistently reporting increased sales rates as market confidence continues to improve. The graphs above from Prodap show that a return is long overdue with a virtual sales vacuum since the GFC.

    Rapidly increasing prices in NSW and the forecast of improving economic conditions driving employment in Queensland over the next year may see interstate migration once again on the increase adding pressure to the current low stock levels. According to Queensland Government statistics the most popular lot sizes are between 350-600m² followed by 600-800m².

    Burchills Engineering Solutions has undertaken preliminary work on hundreds of sites in the SEQ growth corridors and can provide advice on civil, water, environment, and structural aspects of development. Our experienced team provides solutions for residential, commercial, industrial, and government clients from concept to completion.

  • Fresh start in 2014 for Burchills Engineering Solutions

    Friday, January 10, 2014

    The New Year is shaping up to be a more fruitful one for our clients following Burchills Engineering Solutions' acquisition of VDM Consulting’s Gold Coast Business (ex. Burchill Partners) late last year.

    The recent ownership change presents a number of benefits for clients through a renewed focus on local development and infrastructure projects and our reenergised team of experienced professionals.

    The Burchills Engineering Solutions team wishes all of our clients and industry partners a prosperous New Year and is looking forward to helping you achieve success in 2014.

    Business continuity assured with Burchills Engineering Solutions

    Relationships are important to us and you will continue to be serviced by members of our team with whom you currently conduct business. Our phone numbers haven’t changed but our email addresses have; to email one of our team members simply use the format

    New Local Management

    Burchills Engineering Solutions is headed up by Steve Coote, a Gold Coast local with significant experience in the Gold Coast, Australian and International consulting engineering sector. Steve brings a fresh approach to a loyal and long serving team of more than 20 professionals and technicians who are looking forward to writing the next chapter for the firm.

    Multi-disciplinary service offering retained

    Services offered “in-house” by Burchills Engineering Solutions include Civil, Structural, Water, Environment, Traffic engineering and sciences in the sectors of Property, Infrastructure, Environment, and Resources. For example, Burchills Engineering Solutions are currently working on Urban Development projects throughout South East Queensland, Infrastructure for mining projects in Northern Territory, Environmental Studies in South West Queensland, and supporting the light rail project right here on the Gold Coast.

    Quality focus from concept to completion

    A recent client survey highlighted that we have an envied reputation for quality through the full project lifecycle of planning studies, design, documentation and construction monitoring that results in reliable and cost effective outcomes that our clients value. As we continue to look for new ways to better deliver our clients’ projects, quality will remain one of our core strengths.

    Bright future built on a rich history

    Burchills Engineering Solutions (ex. Burchill Partners) has a unique heritage and local reputation since forming on the Gold Coast in 1974, having engineered a vast number of iconic regional projects that include the likes of Sovereign Islands, Hope Island Resort, and many of the Gold Coast’s high rise developments. Our team and clients will continue to benefit from the invaluable contributions of our long serving senior industry icons like Tony Parker, Graeme Buntine, and Philip Bell.

    Join us for our launch function

    We will be celebrating this exciting new chapter for Burchills Engineering Solutions with a launch function to be held in April. The function will provide the opportunity to thank our clients and industry partners for their continued support and to outline our plans for the future. Not to be missed! You will be advised of the details of this exciting event closer to the time.

    Message from our new MD ...

    “Welcome to Burchills Engineering Solutions. I am really excited about the prospects for our clients and our team in 2014. It's a privilige to head up such a talented team with more than 250 years of engineering experience and market knowledge that has helped shape the Gold Coast and Queensland over the past four decades. We will build on the successful relationships that have been established with loyal clients and industry partners and welcome new clients to join us. We will not be resting on our laurels, our future success will be measured by how we perform for clients today.

    Should you have any questions about the changes or our future plans please contact myself or any member of our team”.