https://insideDIO.blog.gov.uk/2016/01/06/environmental-planning-and-sustainability-specialists/

Environmental Planning and Sustainability Specialists

Hello, my name is Samantha Langford-Holt and I am an Environmental Planner working for the Safety, Environment and Engineering (SEE) team at DIO. Undertaking a degree in Geography and a Masters of Science in Development Planning fuelled my passion for the environment and I have applied the knowledge obtained from education working for the DIO for four and a half years and spending a year and a half in a private consultancy.

Samantha Langford-Holt.
Samantha Langford-Holt.

I help to achieve legislative and policy compliance as well as sustainable and proportionate outcomes for the plans, programmes and projects that I work on. One of the ways my colleagues and I do this is by producing objective environmental assessments such as Environmental Impact Assessments, Strategic Environmental Assessments and Sustainability Appraisals.

The SEAT Handbook. [Crown Copyright]
The Sustainability and Environmental Assessment Appraisal handbook. [Crown Copyright]

To be an effective environmental planner, you need to understand how environmental planning is governed and carried out at all levels - international, national, regional and local. This is especially important for DIO which operates not only all over the UK but also abroad in countries as diverse as Canada and Nepal.

Salisbury Plain, one part of the huge area of land under DIO's management. Photo copyright Stephen Davis.
Salisbury Plain, one part of the huge area of land under DIO's management. Photo copyright Stephen Davis.

Environmental planners also have to have a comprehensive understanding of planning and environmental legislation, policy, guidance and best practice which is always being updated. Furthermore, you have to develop a number of key skills: being well organised; being able to communicate and influence at all levels; and importantly being a holistic thinker.

Professional Networks

In order to maintain these skills and knowledge and to develop and improve professional competence in environmental planning, I was keen to earn full Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) / Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv) status. This is a membership of a professional body of like-minded people to support individuals and organisations to set, recognise and achieve global sustainability standards and best practice. To achieve this status, you have to submit a CV, a detailed written application and undergo a gruelling 90 minute video conference interview.

Having found a number of colleagues who were also seeking Full IEMA/ CEnv status, I created a supportive working group which allowed us to discuss our applications, give each other feedback and the benefits of achieving the status. In March 2015 seven members of the working group submitted their applications and four, including me, have achieved full membership of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) following nearly a year of study. The others were Richard Snow, SEE Senior Environmental Adviser, Nicola Parker, SEE Environmental Planner and Begonia Pedreira-Regueira, Energy, Utilities and Sustainability Climate Change Resilience Manager.

Advantages of Professional Status

Achieving Full IEMA membership and CEnv status means that environmental planners and other environmental professionals can better provide for the needs of the military now, without compromising the ability to meet the future defence needs. In addition, it allows us to serve as an example to others by actively promoting and devising innovative ways to improve sustainability to enable the military to live, work, train and deploy at home and overseas.

Construction underway at the site in September 2014. [Crown Copyright/MOD2014]
Environmental planners help avoid potential pitfalls on DIO's projects. [Crown Copyright/MOD2014]
If any MOD staff are interested in pursuing IEMA membership and CEnv status, please get in touch! The working group is still running and we’re happy to help.

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