life at natural power

Graeme Cook

Principal environmental consultant

What does your role entail?

My role at Natural Power has changed a lot over the years. From mostly being out surveying (on boats or up hills), to coordinating ornithological baseline surveys and associated reporting and now to the rather broad remit of providing ornithological advice across Natural Power’s offshore portfolio. So, at the moment, I spend a lot of time working with offshore wind farm developer to help them arrive at a final project design where ornithological impacts are considered to be at consentable levels. When I’m not doing that I may be overseeing the early-stage work for us to deliver the marine ornithology chapter of one of the east coast Scotwind project EIARs, getting my head round what some new guidance note, paper or modelling tool means in terms of assessment protocols, doing due diligence work, contributing to a workshop, or I’m talking to folk about what we should present in particular baseline reports for clients, etc.  

What does your day typically consist of?

It’s hard to picture a ‘typical’ day! It’s a mix of working from home or from the Stirling office, rotating around child care and whatever Kat reminds me to do [Kat, my wife, works for Natural Power too – and generally keeps me right with things]. I typically spend a lot of time on project work, coordinating with the wider offshore ornithology team about how we deliver project work, or in meetings with clients. Sometimes I shut myself off so I can try to figure out a problem,  how something works or read documents that it’s important for me to know; and then other times I’m doing tasks that involve lots of time talking with folk on teams as we work through project delivery. Also somewhere in a ‘typical’ day there would be a lot of coffee and either some running around or riding my bike (if time allows). 

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I suppose it’s kind of an obvious answer, but as an ornithologist I really like the birds. I like finding out about them and working towards minimising impacts on their populations while delivering necessary renewable energy projects.  

What is the most interesting project you have worked on and why?

I’ve got a memory like a sieve and a tendency to think whatever I’m doing at present is really interesting, so, with that in mind, I’ll say the work that I’m doing at the moment on Codling Wind Park. Ornithological impacts are a huge factor influencing what a consent for this project will look like (and rightly so). It’s fascinating working with the project managers, designers and engineers, and the other, concurrently progressing Phase 1 projects in Ireland, plus the statutory regulators and other groups to help shape this project and its approach to its application. 

What is your biggest achievement at work?

It’s important to me to think that what I’m doing has a wider societal purpose (and that it’s ‘helping the birds’). I like to think that my tiny, wee contribution to the huge process of helping the uptake of renewables to happen, and thereby moving away from fossil fuels, is making the world a wee bit better for people (and birds), and that does make me feel good about what I do.