AECoW recognises that there are inconsistencies, and ambiguity, in the development, and construction, industries regarding the responsibilities of different environmental roles and their definitions. That is reflected in the scope, briefs and contracts of the environmental roles, which are highly variable between projects, organisations and planning conditions across the UK. To try and improve consistency, drive up environmental standards, and compliance, AECoW broadly separates site environmental roles into two broad categories and highlights the clear need for distinction between them to support achievement of compliance:
- Working for the developer / contractor to provide site specific advice:
- Environmental Managers / Advisors / Engineers / Project Ecologists
- Ecological Clerk of Works (EcCoW), according to CIEEM’s definition
- Independently commissioned third party compliance monitoring of the Developer / Contractor
- Environmental Clerk of Works (EnCoW), according to AECoW’s definition (outlined below).
Independent environmental compliance monitoring is key to the CoWs role and distinguishes it from other environmental roles. This is based on the principle of environmental auditing as well as the format, and structure, of the roles included in the Construction (Design & Management (CDM) Regulations 2015. Therefore roles, responsibilities and liabilities should be clear if this approach is adopted, and the environmental regulator should be considered to have a similar role to the Health & Safety Executive.
The Environmental Manager/Advisor/Engineer/Project Ecologist is usually hired by contractors and/or developers to manage, and / or advise on, environmental matters to ‘ensure’ compliance. CIEEM also similarly defines EcCoWs, whereby they will advise the project team on good practice, provide / implement detailed site-specific ecological designs.
AECoW believes that EnCoWs should carry out independent, third party compliance monitoring in either an advisory, or auditing, capacity, in line with project documentation, legislation and standards, as outlined by the Institute of Clerks of Works and Construction Professionals. AECoW is striving to embed this position in legislation and guidance, however, it recognises that this is often not the case, and many aspects of different environmental roles (design / implementation) are included in the EnCoW role, in addition to compliance monitoring, particularly as EnCoW (and EcCoWs) are often required by planning conditions and environmental managers/advisors/ engineers are not. AECoW believes that this has created a market demand for EnCoW and often results in the squeezing of different environmental responsibilities into the one role, which has an adverse impact on environmental standards and compliance.
Research demonstrates that blending design / implementation with compliance monitoring, creates a conflict, and compromises the delivery of the compliance monitoring, therefore, AECoW believes, that the two types of EnCoWs, should be independently commissioned from the works:
- In the advisory EnCoW role, none site-specific advice should be provided to the contractor, developer and / or statutory authority on project compliance. If compliance is not being achieved, the EnCoW directs the project team to good practice documents, guidance and techniques. This information should be gathered by regular audit / site inspections and compliance reports. It should not be required to offer site specific design / implementation advice, which could compromise its compliance monitoring.
- In an auditing EnCoW role, compliance monitoring should be undertaken without offering any advice. The aim of the audits is usually to provide a level of due diligence to the client/statutory authorities, with whom it usually directly reports to.
An EnCoW is normally involved in the following activities:
- Auditing of site management plans/method statements and works for compliance;
- Providing none site-specific advice to contractors/developers on the delivery of agreed mitigation measures;
- Liaising with stakeholders such as statutory regulators, planning officials and members of the public;
- Regular surveying to monitor environmental sensitivities at the site. These may be sensitive receptors such as a protected watercourse.
An EnCoW needs to have comprehensive knowledge of a variety of environmental legislation, including pollution, waste, ecology, archaeology, contaminated land, materials management and the impact that materials might have on the environment.