New government guidelines for safety at sports grounds say all stadiums must implement measures to protect fans from vehicle-borne terror attacks. Roger Knight explains what the new regulations mean for contractors and the approach they should take.
Protecting against vehicle-borne terror attacks has been high on the agenda for those designing, specifying and building public spaces following the incidents in Westminster and across Europe over the last few years.
Now, new regulations outlined in the government-funded Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds have brought the issue to the doorstep of the contractors in charge of design and construction. To meet the guidelines, they will need to install adequate measures to protect against this threat, known as ‘hostile vehicle mitigation’, outside grounds while ensuring they don’t block evacuation routes in the process.
Using products tested to the British Standards Institute’s Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 68 and the International Workshop Agreement (IWA) 14 standards will be at the heart of this. These are testing specifications for measures used to assist in terrorism prevention and provides contractors the assurance that what they specify can stop a vehicle travelling at a specific speed and weight. For example, a product built to the strongest specification is capable of stopping a 7.5-tonne articulated lorry travelling at 50mph.
The guidelines will certainly play a key role in helping contractors with specification, but there is a broader argument about when they should start thinking about anti-terror protection. Rather than treating the regulations as a tick box exercise in the final stages, building them into the initial planning phase will provide them with the opportunity to plan for and purchase products that will integrate seamlessly with both the stadium and the landscape outside, ensuring fans feel safe but not scared by the measures in place.
Together with new stadiums, this approach should also be considered for existing grounds where the new regulations will have the biggest impact. These will need retrofitting and contractors should avoid the temptation of installing quick-fix temporary solutions, such as steel barricades and barriers.
The rationale for this is an issue which has been frequently raised about many of the anti-terror solutions installed already in the UK, such as those erected in Windsor, Edinburgh and Worcester. Many visiting last year’s Christmas markets will have also noticed the ring of steel and concrete which surrounded them, particularly in large town and city centres. These provide a very visible, fear inducing method of defence which threatens to increase the risk the public feel.
These new guidelines shouldn’t be treated as just another obstacle for contractors to overcome. Instead, they should be approached as an opportunity to protect fans using methods that don’t turn stadiums into fortresses.
Roger Knight is head of new product development and engineering at Marshalls Landscape Protection.