For the past 15 years, Gillian has worked as an Independent Environmental Representative on various infrastructure projects in Sydney and the ACT.
The role of the Environmental Representative is to review and report on the construction and initial operation of a project. They will ensure the Contractor complies with their environmental obligations under a set of Ministerial Conditions of Approval. For Gillian, having extensive experience across numerous projects means that she can bring years of knowledge to each job, working with the Contractor to find the best environmental outcome while still meeting compliance regulations.
For an Environmental Representative, no two days are the same.. This usually involves undertaking site inspections, completing inspection reports, attending meetings with the Contractor, Client and Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, reviewing various documents prepared by the Contractors and answering questions from the Contractor or Client on the interpretation of the conditions.
On any project, the Environmental Representative will work closely with the environmental personnel from both the Contractor and the Client across the planning and design phase right through to operations. The Environmental Representative is the conduit between the two parties, and for Gillian, she is also a representative of the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. In essence, she is the collaborator, working between the stakeholders and keeping critical information flowing between each stakeholder. No matter the project, the key skill in this role is being an effective communicator - both verbal and written. Assessing and monitoring is, of course, a key component in the role, but being able to clearly share those findings and the requirements that need to be addressed is vital.
Gillian’s current focus is on the Parramatta Light Rail, which will be continuing into 2023. Her role in the project involves conducting independent environmental reviews and environmental site inspections, including the construction of bridges across Parramatta River, contaminated materials handling, and heritage salvage works, across five different contract packages, approving and endorsing relevant documentation and being involved in portion completion handover inspections.
When Gillian entered the industry 25 years ago, the presence of environmental personnel was drastically different. In the past, the Safety Manager took on any tasks connected to the environment and sustainability. Thankfully, the industry has not only recognised the importance of these roles but embraced the expertise of teams of environmentally trained professionals to deliver better outcomes.
This positive and much-needed change has seen growth in the environmental sector with a range of job opportunities, including experts in heritage, noise, sustainability and other aspects of project management, depending on the type and location. ‘Green’ jobs in the industry continue to grow, enabling construction teams to effectively address environmental requirements.
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