After the rush of September, then October was a time to take stock of our first year and prepare for the future.
We continued working with Medway Council and contractor, Ovendens to talk through the plans for Whitewall Drain, a freshwater channel which flows under a road and tunnel complex into the River Medway.
Bank slippage had caused damage to the headwall and a broken tidal flap beneath the road was allowing salt water to enter the drain at high tide.
This was causing damage to the biodiversity of the channel, as brackish water will kill freshwater fish and invertebrates and a build up of silt was reducing the capacity of the channel and could lead to flooding.
Ovendens plan to install Penstock structures, which will allow the channel flow to be controlled and should benefit the environment.
The quiet month gave time to review our first year in business and think about how we can continue to grow and improve the services we offer.
funding cuts over the last few years have prevented some local authorities and environmental charities from hiring full time staff. In addition many existing staff are now on short term or part time contracts. Although this may allow greater flexibilty it also makes staff retention difficult.
As a consequence landowners may deal with many different faces over a few years and this lack of continuity means that good relationships are not established.
Clients are now coming to us as a way to ensure that landowners will get to work with someone well qualified who they can get to know.
This is the case with our new role, which will see us working with landowners across North Kent on behalf of Natural England and the RSPB, delivering advice on managing land for breeding waders.
This flagship project seeks to turn the numbers of waders breeding on private land around from the current low and emulate the huge success of reserves in the area, which saw record numbers of lapwing this year.
While this trend of taking on fewer staff provides consultancies with opportunities it is not a sign of a healthy environmental job sector.
It is also a sad fact that, while more people than ever are coming out of college with qualifications in countryside management, entry level jobs are increasingly filled by volunteers or interns.
At Carol J Donaldson Associates we believe in helping young people get their crucial first paid steps in the industry and try to support young people in gaining essential experience. This is something we hope to offer more of as our client base grows.