I vividly remember announcing to my careers teacher that I wanted to study Landscape Architecture when I left MTGS in 1980. In return I received a rather blank look and the suggestion that maybe I should think about something sensible like Accountancy instead!
For many people, Landscape Architecture was, and still is, a slightly misunderstood profession and I am constantly amused to be asked how I’m getting on with my ‘gardening’! In reality, it is a hugely varied profession and I have specialised in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for a number of years which has enabled me to work on projects which are particularly relevant to the problem of climate change.
Until 2010 I was employed as a Technical Director in the Manchester Office of RPS which is the largest environmental consultancy in the UK with offices around the world. As part of my role I was a Project Manager on projects as diverse as Wind Farms, Energy from Waste Incinerators, quarries and major highways projects including the A1 in North Yorkshire. Much of my work involves assessing the impact of these huge projects on the wider landscape and also on the people who live there. There is a very fine balance to be achieved in meeting the needs of future generations through sustainable development without compromising the countryside character, ecology and cultural heritage that we currently value. Many of my projects, such as Wind Farms, are situated within National Parks or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and it is my job to ensure that this is taken into consideration in the location and design. I also regularly get involved in Public Inquiries and I enjoy the challenge of appearing as an expert witness.
In 2010 I decided to take a year out for professional development and study for a Master’s Degree in ‘Town and Regional Planning’. My year at the University of Liverpool has been very worthwhile and enjoyable but now I am looking forward to graduating and returning to work in the environmental planning sector.