Should Consultants Be Licensed? Should Theirreports Be Placed in the Pub

To: "Simon Mustoe" <>, <>, <>
Subject: Should Consultants Be Licensed? Should Theirreports Be Placed in the Public Domain?
From: "Greg & Val Clancy" <>
Date: Tue, 23 Jun 2009 12:33:55 +1000
As an ecological consultant who has high standards I have been reading this thread with interest. As proof of my high standards I was once told by a consulting firm that if my reports weren't so 'hard' that they would give me much more work. I asked whether they wanted me to fudge the results or tell lies but they insisted that they only wanted reports that weren't so 'hard'.

I have been in consultation with the North Coast Environment Council who are pushing for accreditation and a scheme that will break the link between the developer and the consultant. The problem with accreditation is that even the 'bad guys' can look good on paper and who is going to have the ability to remove their accreditation if they do shoddy work? And what is shoddy work? If a consultant ticks all of the boxes and decides that there will not be significant impact on threatened species it is often hard to argue otherwise. The definition of 'significant impact' is vague and leads to a variety of interpretations.

The other problem with accreditation is that it is costly to manage and is heavily bureaucratic and the consultants will end up paying for it. That is OK if you are a large national or multinational company and can afford hundreds of dollars for accreditation additional to animal care and ethics fees and the multitude of insurances. It will only serve to squeeze out the small, and often ethical, local consultants.

I believe that the problem needs to be fixed at the beginning and at the end of the process where consultants are firstly given clear guidelines as to what is required (survey effort) and the determining authority (DECC, Council) needs to have qualified ecologists on staff who can determine if the project is likely to have significant impact and to reject reports that are sub-standard. Developers will get tired of paying consultants for reports that do not meet the standards and will engage consultants who prepare reports that are of high standard, even if reluctantly.

The legislation and the system allow shoddy consultants to prosper not the fact that consultants are engaged by developers. I have done many jobs for developers who aren't particularly green but I have convinced them that if they want their project to be seriously considered then they will need ecological reports of a high standard.

Dr Greg Clancy
Ecological Consultant
Coutts Crossing

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