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Financial Integrity, Football

Westhorn Geotechnical Report: An Extrapolation too far?

Glasgow City Council have repeatedly refused to release a Geotechnical Report which is the key basis of the discount of £3.5 Million given on land valued at £4.2 Million to Celtic FC.  That is an 83% discount and that was after the land valued was reduced to 7 hectares (Celtic still got the 13.5 hectares) because of a previously unknown ‘blastzone’.

Glasgow City Council claim that the reason the in-house, it was produced by the Council’s own team, Geotechnical Report cannot be released is due to Third Party intellectual property rights.  

Well I think I have found the Third Party. It’s the British Geological Survey (BGS). Glasgow City Council has licenced their software GSI3D for modelling 3D geology.  The only thing is the model depends on the data inputs and extrapolates geological layers between the boreholes hoping there are no faults breaking the layers and in the paper below the academics make numerous warnings that: 

This information is not a substitute for ground investigations‘ and

it could be misinterpreted and used for reasons it is not intended. For example, it may be mistakenly used as a replacement for proper site investigation

A recent Coal Authority assessment of Westhorn only mentioned a geotechnical analysis being performed in 2002. There has been no other geotechnical analysis on Westhorn land since then which would mean that Glasgow City Council have based their analysis on that.

It looks like the GCC geotechnical department have gone ahead and misused this software in the fashion suggested by the paper below. Now no one wants to put up their hands and publicly own the report.

This software and it’s results appear to have been misused and should not be considered reliable evidence by the EC State Aid examiners if it cannot stand being aired for public scrutiny.

International Association for Engineering Geology and the Environment Paper

The paper explains the BGS’s work with Glasgow City Council on the Clyde Basin Environment Programme but more so cautions repeatedly against misuse of the GSI3D software results.

Quotes (my emphasis):

BGS has been working in partnership with Glasgow City Council to produce a pilot 3D geological model aimed at addressing some of the geological problems within an area of the Clyde valley designated for urban development and regeneration.

Key features of the bedrock geology, such as important coal seams, were modelled in GOCAD (a 3D modelling package by Earth Decision SciencesTM) and imported into the final model-viewing package called the GSI3D Subsurface Viewer.

The area was chosen because it lies within the boundaries of the Clyde Gateway, a major regeneration project of around 840 hectares (2000 acres) centred on a triangular area of potential development between Bridgeton Cross, Parkhead Cross and Farme Cross in east-central Glasgow. 

BGS holds a large amount of data for the Glasgow area in the form of borehole records, site investigations records, mine plans and geological maps. This richness of data, along with a strategic location, makes it a good starting point for 3D modelling. Large amounts of data in the third dimension, in the form of borehole records, for example, allow a better quality model to be produced. Areas of high data concentration lead to models with high confidence and minimum amount of uncertainty. Knowing the confidence level of a model is important to the user so that the model is not misused or misinterpreted. The representation of model confidence remains a challenge and our early attempts for Glasgow City Council are discussed under the subheading Modelling Uncertainty.

GSI3D is designed to be a simple to use desktop application for use by geologists and not a complicated GIS-type or CAD package. It is best used for simple geological structures in the shallow subsurface. The software has limitations for modelling complicated bedrock structures.

The synthetic sections and boreholes are an especially valuable tool for planning site investigation work and, indeed, for all aspects of planning and development. However, the user must understand that the sections are not meant to be a replacement for site investigation work as the model is an interpreted representation of the data and not fact.


The colourful 3D geological models produced in GSI3D look very realistic and there is a danger of them being accepted as the truth by uninformed users. It is our job as modellers to ensure that each model supplied to a user or customer comes with caveats explaining the model’s limitations with regard to scale and suitable use, and also that a confidence level placed on the model. BGS has been producing 3D models for the last five years as part of the Digital Geoscience Spatial Model (DGSM) Project. The models produced in this project are only available for internal use by BGS geologists who better understand the accuracy and limitations of geological maps and models. Until now we have not placed great emphasis on attaching detailed confidence information to our existing models. The Glasgow model described in this paper is the first 3D model to be licensed commercially by BGS. With this and future models it is necessary to supply confidence information for each model layer so that the user understands the limitations, understands where the model is most and least accurate and therefore, will hopefully not misuse it.

It is critical to have a multidisciplinary team with expert representatives from each stage of the modelling project providing information on the uncertainty of each step of the process and to ensure that the emphasis is placed on obtaining good uncertainty estimates for those inputs that critically affect the model.

The sources of uncertainty are numerous, for example, data quality, data distribution and density, experience of modellers, reliability of software, level of geological expertise.

A great importance is attached to the fact that our models may be misused or misunderstood and we are doing everything possible to educate the user on the limitations and intended purpose of the models.


This information is not a substitute for ground investigations but should lead to better targeting of ground investigation design and provides some pre-ground investigation indicators of ground conditions allowing some design work to be carried out early in the project.


The model has been embedded into a viewing package called GSI3D Subsurface Viewer and supplied under an evaluation license to Glasgow City Council for use in the planning, development and regeneration of the Clyde Gateway area, an area of major development and construction in east central Glasgow. The model is invaluable for planning site investigations and is attributed with geotechnical information to give the user additional information about the ground conditions. It is easier to use and understand than a traditional geological paper map but the realistic or true to life appearance of the model means that it could be misinterpreted and used for reasons it is not intended. For example, it may be mistakenly used as a replacement for proper site investigation. 

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5 thoughts on “Westhorn Geotechnical Report: An Extrapolation too far?

  1. Wow, these guys are expert in cover ups.
    Disgraceful corruption to aid a football club

    Posted by Jim Buchan | March 7, 2014, 7:21 am
  2. Reblogged this on McMurdo Media.

    Posted by billmcmurdo | March 8, 2014, 4:46 pm
  3. This is bare faced corruption, they have been getting away with it for so long they are now scurrying around trying to hide evidence. Keep up the good work lads , the whole Rangers family are behind you.

    Posted by cooperhero | March 10, 2014, 7:42 pm
  4. What do you think the final outcome of this be ?

    My own view is a cover up or arguing the difference between state aid and incompetence.

    Are there any previous cases / precedents ?

    Posted by Gary | March 11, 2014, 2:19 pm
  5. People involved in corruption, when found out, always revert to the ‘cock-up’ NOT ‘conspiracy’ excuse.

    When they cannot defend themselves, with truth, they are very willing to ‘admit to the charge of being incompetent’.

    Except, of course, nobody is charging anybody with ‘incompetence’.

    This whole sordid business has the unmistakeable stench of, CORRUPTION!

    Great work lads. Good luck.


    Posted by Bill | March 14, 2014, 11:59 am

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