Building a new road or digging a base for a wind turbine involves moving huge quantities of soil. Anything that causes ground disturbance can, potentially, affect the quality of water in the area.
Megan is the Nevis team’s hydrology specialist, helping to ensure that construction site activities don’t impact on the water environment or, for example, that a fuel spillage on site doesn’t contaminate water supplies.
Based at the Carlisle office, she’s responsible for hydrology and surface water quality monitoring, watershed analysis, identifying water quality monitoring points, carrying out surface water sampling and monitoring, installing and maintaining data loggers, and writing up data analysis reports.
When a large development gets planning permission, there will be a number of conditions associated with their planning permission. These will include environmental protection measures.
“We are employed by the developer to ensure that they meet all their environmental requirements, and do not breach their planning permission or break the law.”
This can include protected species surveys, habitat management, habitat restoration, water quality monitoring, construction audits, and producing environmental management plans and other documents to discharge planning conditions.
She has worked at a windfarm site near Halifax in West Yorkshire at which 22 original turbines were replaced with nine larger ones – which produce more power. It was a sensitive site, because the development was on an upland plateau with a number of small streams feeding a reservoir that is used for drinking water. But, says Megan, the contractors had an excellent record of environmental awareness.
On a typical site, Megan carries out fortnightly site visits, checking all the water monitoring points for temperature, pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity, as well as a general visual inspection. She collects samples and sends them off to be tested for heavy metals, hydrocarbons, biological oxygen demand, and total organic carbons, and then writes up a report with the results, to be sent to the client.
A graduate in Environmental Science from the University of York, Megan enjoys fieldwork and being out of the office for several days a week. She spends her weekends hillwalking, camping, climbing, scrambling and mountain biking; in the winter adding skiing and mountaineering, and will occasionally “attempt the odd easy ice climb.” She says:
“It’s essential to enjoy being outdoors in this job”