When did you join Natural Power?
I joined Natural Power in December 2021 from local government where I was Development Monitoring Officer for Planning Enforcement – a mouthful! I have a broad background in construction including building services, architectural, civils and structural design.
What does your day typically consist of?
My role at Natural Power is in planning compliance. I visit sites under construction and assess against their planning permission, relevant legislation, regulations, standards and guidance to ensure the development is being delivered with due regard to all planning matters. When I am not on site, I am reporting compliance on developments I have visited to the Local Authority, consultees and the public.
What is the most challenging part of your role?
Though the prospect of confrontation has significantly reduced from my previous local government role, this remains a possibility and can, in many ways, be more difficult to manage. Clients have an expectation that you are there to help but the help I often offer will not always be an obvious benefit to them. It is critical to be able to be able to separate significant from trivial breaches and identify the planning harm associated with departures from approved plans and documents.
During my 12.5 years in local government, 75% of the construction sites I visited (in excess of 10,000) were in breach of their planning by some degree. Depending on the specific details of the breach, a cost is likely to occur to the developer to remedy this. The balance that must be weighed is not the remedy against the departure but the departure when measured against the prospect of enforcement action.
Enforcement action can result in lengthy halts to development and in some cases, litigious processes. While enforcement action is rare, it is nevertheless a possibility. What I hope to achieve is to ensure our clients do not fall foul of planning and as a result deliver a development which is environmentally and ecologically sympathetic to its surroundings and protect the amenity of the local area.
What is the most interesting type of work you have done and why?
I love being outdoors and in all weathers. I have seen fantastic temperature inversions, sunrises and sunsets, horrendous weather conditions which are anything but funny at the time but after the fact are part of your rich tapestry. I have seen a Hercules, fly by just above the loch in the Glen below where I am standing. I have seen raptors floating effortlessly on the wind and I have seen Scottish wildcats (allegedly). My work has also introduced me to really interesting people such as a site agent who grew award winning marrows. Imagine when my surprise at how the conversation unfolded when the regulator shared this very same hobby!
I am continually in awe as the giant windfarm components are manoeuvred around our local roads network but the most interesting thing is the job itself. The remit of planning is so far reaching that there is rarely a day where you are not learning something new. I’m not sure the cliché – every day is a school day – could be more applicable even for those at school.
Provide a hidden talent or quirky fact about yourself!?
15 years ago, I began playing tennis with my son which led to helping out our club coach with the kids at our club a few hours a week. I formalised my assistance around 6 years ago by doing my coaching badge. I am now a tennis coach in my spare time. I can help with your forehand, backhand serve or volley – just don’t ask me to demonstrate.