What attracted you to working in SEPA?
Growing up in a rural part of southern Scotland, I have always had a deep affinity and appreciation for the countryside; a connection to the folk living in the area; and an understanding of the pressures faced socially and economically.
In 1992, I graduated from Napier University with a degree in Science and Management. Having previous work experience in the forestry sector, I became self-employed primarily in forest planting and preparation, and until recently, I was managing a squad which was up to a dozen or so strong.
I joined SEPA on a short-term contract in December 2013 as a forestry inspector as part of the Forestry Harms project. Given my previous work experience, this was a perfect fit for me and gave me a chance to learn more about the forestry industry from a regulatory viewpoint.
I have really enjoyed my time here. I’ve been able to get involved at the ground level with this project and it makes me feel proud to help bring about improvements in local forestry practices.
What work are you involved in?
I’m primarily involved with the Forestry Harms project which aims to prevent sediments entering burns from forestry sites.
In my current role I audit sites to assess compliance with the Controlled Activity Regulations (CAR) and forest and water guidelines.
It’s my job to help ensure good practices are followed by operators – and to promote awareness and understanding.
My contract has just been extended until March 2016, so my daily work now includes responding to pollution complaints, carrying out point source site inspections, whilst also continuing to deliver forestry work.
What are your green credentials?
As a boy growing up in the small village of Moniaive in rural Dumfries and Galloway, I used to deliver unpasteurised milk and seasonal vegetables from a local farm by horse and cart.
I am almost loathe to point out the million or two conifers I will have planted as commercial woodlands (which are not everybody’s cup of tea from a scenic and biodiversity viewpoint).
However, I would stress that I’ve also planted a few hundred thousand hardwood trees over the years. I have most pride in the dry stane dykes I have built and rebuilt in the region, most of which will outlast me.
What is your favourite Scottish environment?
The area around Moniaive where I grew up is my favourite Scottish environment. I loved to roam the hills all year round and go biking and swimming. We had tattie picking, fishing, and field mushroom and hazel nut gathering, which sets a very romantic bucolic scene. Halcyon days indeed with no digital distractions.