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Chartership and the environment sector

When it comes to achieving Chartered status, Matt Whitehead* believes the question is not ‘why’, but ‘why not?’…

As part of my role in supporting the training and professional development of Environment Agency officers working in local groundwater and contaminated land teams, I am often asked: “Why should I become Chartered?”.  The answer I give is relevant to all those working in the environment sector.

Chartership is not only a measure of personal success and recognition in your chosen field, it is also a necessary pre-requisite for participating in certain business activities. Now more than ever, the Environment Sector needs capable people backed by a strong code of professional ethics. Given the current challenges we face (both economically and environmentally) we need Chartered people in both public and private sector organisations to be at the forefront of activities aimed at achieving sustainable development.


There are a number of important schemes operating or being launched in the Environment Sector that require Chartered people. For example the Specialist in Land Condition (SiLC) Register, which is the ultimate recognition of competence for those participating in land management activities. With over 160 registered members the aim of SiLC is to develop and maintain a high quality unifying professional registration for the assessment of the condition and remediation of brownfield sites. Originally set up for those preparing Land Condition reports, the register is now closely linked with the development of a new National Quality Mark Scheme (NQMS) for land contamination management work. Chartership is a pre-requisite under NQMS for those wishing to sign off reports prepared under the scheme.

There are also proposals for a register of risk assessors by the Society of Brownfield Risk Assessors, where Chartered status (via recognised professional bodies such as the Geological Society) plays an important role in recognising those at higher levels of capability. The current proposals are complementary to the new NQMS, providing a means by which the capability of risk assessors can be checked by those verifying that work has been to the requisite standards.


Finally there is the Qualified Persons register for those undertaking activities under the Development Industry Definition of Waste Code of Practice (DoWCoP) assisting developers in the sustainable re-use of soils in construction. To date the scheme has been utilised in over 500 projects, saving Industry in excess of £250M and diverting more that 16 million tonnes of soil from landfill.

All these initiatives recognise that the best work is done by individuals who are not only capable and experienced, but who can also be trusted to perform their duties to the best of their ability within a code of professional conduct. From a regulator’s perspective it is not always about what you know but about how you put that knowledge into practice. Achieving Chartership allows employers, clients and colleagues alike to easily identify people who are the leaders in their field.

So - the question isn’t “Why become Chartered?”.  The question is “Why not?”

* Matt Whitehead - BSc (Hons) MSc FGS C.Geol SiLC; Senior Advisor - (Contaminated Land Remediation )- Environment Agency