I'm Mark Hill and I'm an Environmental Liability Manager at DIO. My job is all about mitigating the business risk arising from our current infrastructure activities and those that have resulted from our historical ones, to ensure the safety of personnel and the public, regulatory compliance and environmental protection.
It's not just about land quality assessment - although contaminated land remains a key business risk for the Ministry of Defence. It’s much wider and embraces everything, from pollution prevention and control through to environmental noise, air quality, waste and of course contaminated land.
In essence, we quantify environmental liabilities and help ensure organisations like DIO manage or mitigate the potential operational risks arising from them, thereby reducing the potential for regulatory action, claims, project delays, unnecessary expenditure and reputational damage.
I entered the profession following a secondment to the Ministry of Water Resources in Oman where I'd been part of the groundwater resource assessment division involved in strategic resource development and protection work. This included looking at pollution risks from farming and the petrochemical industry.
I found that the profession allowed me to combine my interest in finding practical ways to address environmental impacts with that of risk management and problem solving. Like many within this field I do like a challenge.
However, it was not until 1998, when I joined DIO’s predecessor Defence Estates on secondment from industry - bit of a theme here - that I was really able to get involved in and drive all aspects of the assessment and management of environmental liabilities and their associated health, environmental and financial risks.
During my time with MOD, I’ve been part of Government and MOD committees and working groups advising on everything from soil guideline values through to energy, carbon and radioactive waste management. I’ve also advised Ministers, deployed on operations and on occasion attended Parliament, not to mention a stint at the Joint Services Command and Staff College.
My day is generally a little hectic and tends to involve a host of activities with challenging timescales and competing priorities.
These include responding to pollution incidents, updating work programmes, tracking spend, authorising invoices, reviewing reports and providing advice and guidance to Projects and Operations. I also work closely with DIO’s Parliamentary team at to answer Parliamentary Questions, Ministerial Correspondence and Freedom of Information requests.
I also spend time providing progress updates, drafting briefing papers, visiting sites, liaising with regulators and both UK Government departments and devolved administrations. I work with the legal department to address legal liabilities and advising and mentoring colleagues. I work to update guidance and policy (or else verify its application) with Strategy and Policy colleagues and the Defence Safety and Environmental Authority.
The highlight of my career with DIO so far has to be being called upon to brief both the Secretary of State and Ministers and attending a number of Adjournment Debates in Parliament. This has been a particular privilege.