Benefits of a EnvCoW

The benefits of an environmental clerk of works on construction sites

The construction sector by its nature has the potential to have a significant impact upon whichever environment works are undertaken. To counter this, various pieces of legislation exist with the aim of protecting our natural heritage.

Most developments are required to go through some form of planning authority scrutiny, the purpose of which is to assess the impact of the development on the environment. In most cases what is agreed to in principle through the planning phase then has to be transposed to the “ground” through the development of a construction environmental management plan (CEMP). A CEMP outlines how the construction will be completed whilst complying with legislation and any planning conditions.

An Environmental Clerk of Works (EnvCoW) bridges the gap between the environmental documentation and its implementation on the ground. There are two different roles EnvCoWs can perform; these are an advisory role and an auditing role. Both roles aim to achieve the same goal, compliance to documentation and with that legislation. The advisory role is generally employed/contracted by the principle contractor/contractor; these EnvCoWs provide direct advice to the contractor on whether the project is achieving compliance and if not how to achieve it. The second role is generally employed/contracted by the client, these EnvCoWs advise the client on whether the project is compliant through the undertaking of audits and inspections in a form of self-regulation, ideal for clients with multiple projects and a close working relationship with the regulatory authorities. Another form of clerk of works that is closely related to the EnvCoW is the Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW). ECoWs provide specialist ecological advice on constraints associated with the development beyond what an EnvCoW is able to offer. ECoWs with appropriate licenses can conduct activities that may constitute an offence should anyone else undertake those activities, closing badger setts, actively searching for a schedule 1 bird’s nest for example.

The benefit of an EnvCoW is three fold, firstly; EnvCoWs can provide savings to program and budget through a proactive approach to identifying environmental constraints, secondly; they reduce the risk of legislative breach through education and monitoring of activities. Finally, EnvCoWs provide reassurance to the regulatory bodies that the development will be self-regulated and undertaken with due care and attention.