Oakley Industrial Services received £ 174,000 government tax relief after perfecting a method to repair underground rainwater tanks
The use of “dampening tanks” – which collect water after major weather events – store rainwater to prevent local flooding around buildings when the water table rises. However, they can become unusable if damaged and are very difficult to repair as they are buried 5 meters underground and constantly fill with water.
Oakley Industrial Services set out to develop a safe way to repair these tanks without digging them up, which is very expensive and time consuming.
The team was led by Managing Director Peter Clarke, who has more than 25 years of design and engineering experience – and was once a mechanic for Formula 1 and Formula 3 racing teams.
“Damping tank” project
They had to find a way to fix the fiberglass tanks without the water filling up during the repair. They came up with the idea that if they systematically piling holes 30 cm in diameter to a depth of 5 m around the tank every two meters, a system of powerful pumps and hoses could remove enough water to keep the tank empty .
In contrast to previous repair methods, the team also had to wear respirators, similar to deep-sea divers, with a hose attached to the surface because they were so far from the surface and the atmosphere was constantly being measured with gas monitors.
Based in Corby, Northamptonshire, the company specializes in roof drains and maintenance, fall protection, drainage, support systems and facade maintenance.
The attenuation tank project was just one of the innovations Oakley introduced that earned the company £ 174,494 in research and development tax breaks over a two-year period.
The company also developed a new drainage system for a commercial warehouse, a lighting system for a pharmaceutical company, and a 3km clear balustrade to keep visitors, especially children, from falling into a Northampton lake.
The way the balustrade had to be galloped backwards to prevent climbing posed major challenges and required newly designed stanchions that could provide the required strength. Oakley says it’s so strong that if a car were to drive in at 50 mph, the vehicle would stop in its lane.
State R&D tax breaks
R&D tax breaks were introduced by the government in 2000 to incentivize innovation and result in either a reduction in a limited company’s corporate tax liability or a cash flat rate. Many firms do not know that their work qualifies as R&D, which is defined as any work that aims to resolve a scientific or technological uncertainty, be it a new process, product or service. Crucially, R&D work does not have to be successful to qualify and claims can be made up to two years past the end of the tax year in which the work took place.
Peter Clarke, Managing Director, Oakley Industrial Services said:
“We spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on these innovations. The rainwater tank project was particularly important for the industry because the effort to repair these tanks was enormous in the past. They have to be excavated, drained, repaired and repaired with considerable effort. The money and the hours of work that go with it are staggering.
“It felt good to finally be able to offer the industry a solution to this problem, and adoption has been very quick indeed. At the time, however, we had no idea that the project would qualify for tax credits, but we were able to put all that money back into the business. “
Kully Nijjar, Associate Director of the specialist R&D tax consultancy Catax, commented:
“Peter and his team solved an urgent need for development everywhere. This is a perfect example of how the tax break regime can reward companies willing to break new ground and improve the technological solutions available to an entire industry. It was important work and they deserve credit for it. “