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

To: "'Greg & Val Clancy'" <>, "'Simon Mustoe'" <>, <>, <>
Subject: Should Consultants Be Licensed? Should Theirreports Be Placed in the Public Domain?
From: "Stephen Ambrose" <>
Date: Tue, 23 Jun 2009 13:32:44 +1000
A detailed model for an accreditation scheme for ecological consultants,
described by Dr Martin Denny, Vice President of the Ecological Consultants
Association of NSW Inc (ECANSW), can be found at the following link:

Just flip through the pages of the ECA newsletter (Vol. 22: February 2009)
until you reach pages 23 to 26.

It is the model that ECANSW was working towards in consultation with the
DECC but (as I mentioned in yesterday's email), the NSW Government no longer
appears to consider the development of an accreditation system for
ecological consultants in NSW as high on its list of priorities. Therefore,
Martin Denny's paper proposes an industry-based, rather than
government-based, system. The model is tailored for NSW, but could easily be
adopted by other states or as a national model.

The ECANSW would welcome feedback on the model that is proposed, especially
from ecological consultants and others who are concerned about maintaining
high ecological consultancy standards. Feedback can either be sent to me
privately, or you could do it publicly through Birding-aus or through the
ECANSW Website Discussion Forum Whatever way
you choose to provide feedback, it will be made available for consideration
by the Executive Committee of the ECANSW.

Greg's point about cost of accreditation is a very valid one. Financial
overheads of running a consultancy business are very high and the last thing
we want to see is an accreditation cost structure that can be met easily by
large consultancy firms, but is a major challenge to smaller firms or sole

Dr Stephen Ambrose
Ecological Consultants Association of NSW Inc.

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Greg & Val Clancy
Sent: Tuesday, 23 June 2009 12:34 PM
To: Simon Mustoe; ; 
Subject: Should Consultants Be Licensed? Should
Theirreports Be Placed in the Public Domain?

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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