26 Feb

Working at the Environment Agency by James Ford

environmental agency

On Thursday 26th of February we hosted our last guest talk of the year before our big GREEN BUSINESS FORUM! James Ford, a professor at UCL who worked for the Environment Agency, came to speak to us about what the Environment Agency does, how he came to work with them, and what their responsibilities are.

The EA was created under the environment act of 1995 and its main goal was said to be to protect the environment. It is a non-departmental public body that employs approximately 10,600 employees. It responsibilities include regulating industries and waste production in the UK, monitoring water quality and resources, and managing the risk of flooding. The EA holds a very important role in environment protection since every year, people and industries make millions of pounds by disposing of wastes illegally. The EA is also heavily involved in any accidents that could cause potential pollution for example oil spills, chemical plant explosions etc.

After a bachelor’s in civil engineering, James Ford joined the EA in 2006 as part of the Asset Systems Management team in which he was put in charge of a restoration scheme for the river Brett. The goal of this scheme was to return the river to its natural state to prevent further damage. James explained to us how complicated working to fix the environment can be. The river was initially wavy but in previous years had been straightened out for building purposes. When trying to return the river to its wavy, natural state, James and his team had to face multiple obstacles such as landfills which had take over, invasive species which could not be removed, a school which had been built, and a golf course. These obstacles could not simply be destroyed so James and his team came up with a new design that made the river curvy again, promoting biodiversity and preventing silting while also avoiding these obstacles. This project however was never actually built, which James explained was a result of low government funding. The hardest part of working with the government, he said, was that you never know when they will cut your budget. He later went on to work on several other projects which luckily did turn out to be built.

In 2008 James joined the Operation Delivery Team where he was part of a team in charge of reservoir restoration to avoid embankment. The solution to their problem was to lay down French gravel which let the water flow freely to the reservoir instead of having soil absorbing the water and a porous membrane filled with soil which allows to grow grass but which can also be driven on without damaging / ruining the soil.

We then moved on to a networking session with James where he explained the recruitment process for EA and what they were looking for in graduates.

We look forward to seeing you at our last big event of the year, our GREEN BUSINESS FORUM on the 4rth of March 2015 and hope you have enjoyed our wide range of guest speakers throughout the year!