From Ecologist to Economist, the Rise of the Environmental Manager

Martin Wells, one of WATA’s senior health and safety trainers and consultant at WATA talks about the rise of the Environmental Manager.

In the late 1980’s I was working in environmental protection and using law from 1936 that mentioned words like effluvia and filth. Environmentalists were a rare breed and few were employed by organisations in a professional capacity. In fact, the concept of sustainability had not yet been formed and seemed to be a rather idealistic concept associated with those who had “dropped out” of society.

The landmark Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Rio Earth Summit of 1992 marked significant steps in the development of a national and international focus on environmental management. Since these early days environmental practice and legislation have not just developed but expanded in scale and scope to a greater extent than any other area of business regulation. With sobering statistics on bio diversity decline, climate change and resource depletion it is likely that fiscal and legal incentives will increase as they reflect growing scientific understanding and public concern. Who would have thought in the 1990’s that we would have law on packaging waste, energy use and corporate greenhouse gas reporting. Environmental Courses

National governments of different political persuasions have had a range of commitment to environmental issues, the focus of national government, although important sits within the requirements of the EU and its extensive series of environmental actions programmes which is in part influenced by international treaties and protocols many formed through the United Nations.

I have just finished teaching some of the IEMA programme at WATA, delegates many of who already have management responsibility for environmental issues are amazed at the scope and extent of controls and incentives in place for a whole range of subjects. Some things are taxed, banned, restricted, traded, require reporting or record keeping, require a permit, can be claimed back, increases tax liability, can increase legal liability, need to label, need to protect or preserve, need to be competent to operate, can be prosecuted for, can be issued with a civil sanction, must restore and the list goes on. One thing is certain this information is not common sense, it needs to be taught and understood by those we rely on to give advice to organisations. This is essential, not just to avoid the consequences of failure but to reap the many financial and cultural benefits associated with good practice.Environmental quals


WATA offer three significant qualifications designed for those with management responsibility in this field


  • NEBOSH Certificate in Environmental Management – This qualification used internationally and is taught over a week with an exam the following Monday and a practical workplace based assignment. The course follows the traditional NEBOSH format and is popular for those wanted the maximum information in the shortest time.
  • IEMA Associate Certificate – This course is spread over 2 separate weeks covering a broad range of issues and concludes with an open book exam. Successful candidates receive associate membership of IEMA. A significant proportion of delegates use this course as a module for the NEBOSH diploma in Environmental Management.
  • NEBOSH National Diploma in Environmental Management - This course builds on the two weeks of the IEMA course by adding a further week to meet the full NEBOSH syllabus. The course concludes with an exam and workplace based practical.

These courses are one step in understanding and translating that understanding into practice and ultimately better performance for the business and reduced environmental impact. Environmentalists still need to understand ecology but their voice is now been heard much more clearly in board rooms.

Well presented advice increasingly makes good financial sense.

Martin Wells is the senior health and safety trainer and consultant at WATA with nearly 15 years of experience of training and consultancy. He has a wide range of experience of both health and safety and environmental management in the UK and abroad. Martin was a Principal Inspector and has managed compliance issues in a range of organisations.

Martin is an examiner on several NEBOSH products and a Chartered Member of IOSH.