‘Environmental Consultant’ is a fairly vague term. When coupled with the wide variety of tasks the job requires, this often leads to the question ‘What does an environmental consultant do?’ Read on to find out.
What is an environmental consultant?
In a nutshell, environmental consultants are scientifically qualified assessors of the environment. In practice, they identify any existing or potential risks to the environment, be it to the human life or the natural environment in or around the site they are assessing.
Why do I need an environmental consultant?
In most cases, people require an environmental consultant as they have been told by their local regulator that in order to approve development on a site, it has to be proven to be environmentally safe. This could be in terms of making sure the proposed development doesn’t harm the environment around it, or that when developed, your project will be negatively affected by its environment (for example, a housing development beside a 24hr factory).
An environmental consultant will find any risks to your development and explain how to meet industrial best practice in order to allow your plans to go ahead.
What does an environmental consultant do?
An environmental consultant’s workload is split into two parts; field work and desk work.
‘Field Work’ involves visiting the site in question, taking samples and collecting any other scientific information that will inform their assessment.
‘Desk Work’ is when the data gathered in Field Work is translated into meaningful information using the latest scientific methods. The environmental consultant will then translate this information into easy-to-understand information and recommend simple ways to overcome or lessen any risks found to an acceptable level.
What does an environmental consultant assess?
Environmental consultants can assess all sorts of environmental factors, such as the risk of flooding, ensuring waste is managed correctly, noise levels, how water flow is impacted above and below ground and more. All of this takes the impact on humans and the surrounding environment into account as a whole. It is common for specific consultants or companies to specialise in certain areas, allowing them to use their expertise. For example, OSM have on staff specialists in Contaminated Land, Hydrogeology, Waste Management, Flood Risk and Noise Assessment.
Who do environmental consultants work for?
Environmental consultants often work for both private individuals and companies, as well as governmental organisations.
What makes a good environmental consultant?
Several factors make a good environmental consultant, however as a client, you should primarily look for qualifications such as a relevant science-based degree (Environmental Science / Studies, Geology, Geography etc) and experience in the service you require. You should be able to find their experience in their case studies on their website or LinkedIn.
Attention to detail is vital in a good environmental consultant, as it is a highly technical job. It is a good sign if the ‘Field Work’ is kept in house (not contracted out to another company), as this ensures your results will be as accurate as possible, leading to less red tape down the line.
To do all of the above work well, Environmental Consultants must stay knowledgeable on all the latest regulations and scientific developments. The best way to judge if a company you’re considering working with has this is checking whether their Environmental Consultants are members of professional bodies, such as Chartered Institute of Wastes Management (CIWM) or Institute of Environmental Science (IES).
Those with experience in certain areas and positive relationships with regulators will particularly excel for their clients. This can be hard to judge, although if the Environmental Consultant has previously worked within these governmental structures, they will have a clear idea on how these often-complicated agencies work and will be quickly able to navigate them on your behalf.
Why should I choose OSM as my Environmental Consultant?
OSM combine decades of experience in environmental consulting, including several years in governmental agencies such as NIEA and UK Environmental Agency. They have successfully completed consulting projects across Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and United Kingdom (for our latest case studies, click here).
Your project will be kept entirely in house with OSM, with all work directly overseen by Managing Directors and Senior Environmental Scientists, Micheál O’Sullivan (BSc Hons MCIWM) and Frank Macfarlane (BSc MSc MIEnvSc).
Over their many years as Environmental Consultants, the team at OSM have come to specialise in Flood Risk Assessment, Contaminated Land Assessment, Waste Management, Noise Impact Assessment and Hydrogeological Assessments.
See how OSM can help you, by getting in touch today.