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Home » A Day In The Life » Gavin Shirley, Project Manager

Gavin Shirley, Project Manager

February 9, 2017










What does your day typically consist of?

A typical day will be desk based and involve sharing a 21-mile journey to the office with colleagues. Whilst the computer is booting up I’ll grab a glass of water and cup of coffee. Back at the computer, I’ll make sure any pressing tasks are dealt with otherwise, time permitting, I’ll ease into the day with a review of planning and energy updates. Tasks for the day might involve drafting a planning, design and access statement, preparing a planning application, reviewing a project’s compliance with consent documents or visiting a site. Depending on my personal training regime, I’ll visit the gym in our office building at lunch time or go for a walk through the forest behind the office. That helps break up the day and keep me fresh for completing the afternoon’s work.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

Variety is the spice of life and I get involved with a wide range of projects. I am a big supporter of renewable energy and the ability to play a small role in helping the country meet or surpass its renewable energy targets is fulfilling. The Green House, Natural Power’s global headquarters, is a rather unique building, and with a great group of people it makes an interesting place to work.

How did you get into the role in the first place?

Natural Power was my first career type job and I started as an Assistant Project Manager. My friend Kat who was already working at Natural Power suggested to me that the planning team might be recruiting in the near future. I was looking for planning related work and emailed my CV to the department. I was invited for the interviews, which I actually enjoyed, and was offered the job!

What is your degree and/or professional qualification?

After attaining BSc (Hons) Geography from the University of Edinburgh, I thought the ability to play an active role in shaping the environment in which we live would be a satisfying, wholesome profession so completed a one year MSc Urban and Regional Planning at Heriot-Watt University. Whilst local planning authority jobs were hard to come by at the time, an opportunity arose at Natural Power and having always been keen on renewable energy, I leapt at the chance. With the experience gained from working at Natural Power and support from colleagues, I became a Chartered Town Planner with the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

What is the most interesting type of work you have done and why?

I have been exposed to a lot of different projects and work streams whilst at Natural Power so it’s difficult to pick just one. Managing the pre-construction condition discharge work on behalf of our client for Afton Wind Farm was particularly interesting because it allowed me to merge with our construction team. I learned a lot about construction practices and better understood how a project evolves after our planning team would normally hand it over to construction. I had previously managed the planning process for Afton Wind Farm, which gained Section 36 consent and subsequent consent to a variation, so continuing to develop the project was rewarding. Opening the doors to construction also helped ease me into the role of a planning monitoring officer which involves checking compliance of projects under construction. Seeing types of projects that I’ve written so much about being built out has also been fascinating to witness.

What is your biggest achievement at work?

Successfully passing my assessment to become a Chartered Town Planner was a personal and professional highlight. Having been involved with the Afton Wind Farm project since I started at Natural Power, it was an achievement for all involved when it was granted consent. Afton Wind Farm had been in the planning system for more than ten years and had to overcome obstacles including potential radar issues. Natural Power managed to help its client gain Section 36 consent and a subsequent Section 36C consent within tight deadlines in order to facilitate the long-standing project enter the construction phase and help meet its grid deadline.

Any hidden talents?

I have a healthy lifestyle, and am a very competitive and a keen cyclist. I’ve cycled for as long as I’ve walked and enjoy the freedom that cycling brings. During my time racing I’ve managed to win titles, course records and a sports personality of the year at a regional level as well as several national team championships. My ambition is to continue improving and one day win an individual national title.

What is your favourite hobby?

I love playing sports in general and train daily for cycle races. I enjoy cooking which I generally find quite therapeutic and like to get engrossed in a quality boxset or movie.

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