What is an environmental consultancy? Who better to guide us through the work of an environmental consultant than the Managing Director of a multi-million-pound environmental business?

In a world where the delicate balance of our environment hangs precariously, environmental consultancy emerges as a crucial beacon of hope. It’s not just a technical jargon; it’s a powerful force, a bridge between human ambition and ecological well-being. But what exactly does it encompass?

Imagine: a vast canvas – our planet, teeming with life, yet facing mounting threats like climate change, pollution, and resource depletion. Environmental consultancy equips us with the brushstrokes – the expertise, knowledge, and solutions – to navigate this complex landscape. It’s the science of understanding our environmental challenges, the art of devising sustainable solutions, and the engine that drives responsible progress.

Simply put, environmental consultancy is the strategic partnership between businesses, institutions, and individuals with environmental specialists. These specialists, armed with scientific knowledge, engineering prowess, and regulatory know-how, guide their clients towards minimizing their environmental impact while ensuring compliance with evolving regulations.

Think of them as environmental architects, meticulously crafting solutions that seamlessly blend economic viability with ecological sensitivity. Their toolkit is diverse, encompassing:

Environmental Consultation with Mark McKinney
  • Site assessments: Uncovering potential environmental hazards and risks associated with land development or industrial activity.
  • Contamination remediation: Cleaning up polluted soil, water, and air, leaving behind a legacy of environmental restoration.
  • Environmental permitting: Navigating the intricate web of environmental regulations and securing necessary permits for projects.
  • Sustainable development strategies: Guiding businesses and communities towards eco-friendly practices, resource conservation, and responsible growth.
  • Waste management solutions: Minimizing waste generation, implementing recycling initiatives, and finding responsible disposal methods.

But environmental consultancy transcends mere technical expertise. It’s about a shared vision, a commitment to protecting our planet for future generations. It’s about building trust, forging partnerships, and leaving a lasting legacy of environmental responsibility.

Dr Mark McKinney, of ATG Group, visited the ProfileTree studio to take part in a Business Leaders video interview and pass on some expertise with the aim of helping other companies.

What is an environmental consultancy? environmental remediation with mark mckinney

He outlined how ATG Group, who offer services including Japanese Knotweed treatment, remediation of contaminated land, emergency spill response and environmental awareness training, had grown from humble beginnings in 2006.

“It’s a small family business which operated out of the garage at the back of the house. We did a lot of environmental consultancy and now it has grown to 31 staff and £5.6m last year in turnover. It’s been an interesting journey.”

With offices in Coleraine, Lisburn, Edinburgh and Kenya, the business is now looking at expansion opportunities in London and Dublin and is also carrying out work in countries across the world.

He explained that ATG Group’s main business is in the remediation of contaminated land and groundwater, giving the examples of two Northern Ireland sports stadium projects.

“That could be anything from a small domestic oil spill, where the oil has leaked from a domestic oil tank or an underground tank, right through to the redevelopment of Windsor Park or Casement Park.

“In Casement, the contamination is in the material that was imported. There’s also Japanese Knotweed, which is the invasive plan species that we deal with and eradicate, and there’s quite a bit of soil material to be moved.

“In Windsor there was groundwater problems, there was contamination in certain parts of the site where the oil tanks were and then they had to remove parts of the pitch. So about 20,000 tonnes of material came out of Windsor, which all had to go to the correct sites. And then, obviously, there was the groundwater and there was the Japanese Knotweed at Windsor as well.”

With the work of ATG Group now a global operation, the company wants to continue to export their technologies and solutions as well as have a positive impact on the environmental.

One way the business does this is through a focus on research and development.

“We’ve spent £1.4m in the last three years on R&D, and that has been the development of our system which eradicates Japanese Knotweed and our system for the chemical and physical stabilisation of heavily-contaminated sediments and soils.

“This is always for reuse, last year we treated around 300,000 tonnes of material and only 28,000 tonnes went to landfill. So we’re getting very high recycling rates.”

The ATG Group Managing Director said the company’s industry had now become more heavily regulated and welcomed this increased focus on standards. 

“Where there’s regulation people then have to do things right and where there’s a lack of regulation you tend to find things are not done properly.

“There are illegal landfills and illegal waste sites that have occurred over the years in Ireland. Prosecutions are being taken under European laws and our own laws.  

“It’s very strongly regulated now, and we all want that.”

To discover much more about Mark’s expertise and the work of ATG Group explore our full video interview.

ATG Group – www.atg-group.co.uk

Personal development-environmental aspect

Types of Environmental Consultancy Services: Navigating the Green Landscape

When it comes to navigating the complex world of environmental responsibility, environmental consultancy services offer a diverse array of tools and expertise. These services equip businesses, institutions, and individuals with the knowledge, solutions, and guidance needed to minimize their environmental impact and operate in compliance with evolving regulations. Here’s a breakdown of some key service categories:

A. Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs):

  • Predicting potential environmental impacts: EIAs assess the environmental consequences of proposed projects, such as new developments, infrastructure expansions, or industrial activities. This helps stakeholders understand potential risks and develop mitigation strategies.
  • Identifying mitigation measures: EIAs recommend measures to minimize environmental harm, like reducing emissions, conserving resources, and protecting sensitive ecosystems.
  • Facilitating informed decision-making: By providing a comprehensive understanding of potential impacts, EIAs inform stakeholders and regulatory bodies, enabling them to make informed decisions about project approval and implementation.

B. Regulatory Compliance:

  • Navigating the regulatory maze: Environmental regulations can be complex and ever-changing. Consultants help clients navigate this intricate landscape, ensuring compliance with local, national, and international environmental laws and regulations.
  • Permitting and licensing support: Consultants assist clients in obtaining necessary permits and licenses for their projects, streamlining the process and minimizing delays.
  • Staying up-to-date on regulatory changes: Consultants keep clients informed about emerging regulations and changes in existing regulations, helping them adapt their practices to stay compliant.

C. Site Assessments:

  • Uncovering environmental risks: Consultants conduct site assessments to identify potential environmental hazards, such as soil contamination, air pollution, or groundwater contamination. This information is crucial for informing development decisions and remediation plans.
  • Risk evaluation and mitigation: Consultants assess the risks associated with identified hazards and develop mitigation strategies to minimize or eliminate them.
  • Due diligence support: Site assessments play a crucial role in due diligence processes for land acquisitions, mergers, and other transactions, providing valuable insights into potential environmental liabilities.

D. Remediation Consulting:

  • Remediation planning and design: Consultants develop comprehensive plans to clean up contaminated soil, water, and air. This involves selecting appropriate remediation technologies, estimating costs, and designing remediation systems.
  • Project management: Consultants oversee the implementation of remediation projects, ensuring they are completed on time, within budget, and in accordance with regulatory requirements.
  • Monitoring and reporting: Consultants monitor the effectiveness of remediation efforts and provide regular reports to stakeholders and regulatory bodies.

E. Sustainability Consulting:

  • Developing sustainable strategies: Consultants help businesses and organizations develop and implement sustainable strategies, incorporating environmental considerations into their operations, policies, and decision-making processes.
  • Resource efficiency and waste reduction: Consultants analyze resource use and waste generation patterns, identifying opportunities for improvement and implementing waste reduction and recycling initiatives.
  • Green building and infrastructure: Consultants provide expertise in green building design, renewable energy integration, and sustainable infrastructure development, helping clients reduce their environmental footprint and achieve operational efficiencies.

Key Skills Needed for Environmental Consultants: Navigating the Green Frontier

Being an environmental consultant isn’t just about passion for the planet; it demands a unique blend of expertise, knowledge, and soft skills. To navigate the complex tapestry of environmental challenges, consultants need to equip themselves with a diverse toolbox of abilities. Here’s a deeper dive into some key skills essential for success:

A. Scientific Expertise:

  • Ecology: Understanding the intricate relationships between organisms and their environment is crucial for assessing potential impacts, designing remediation plans, and advocating for ecological conservation.
  • Geology: Grasping the composition and properties of soil and rock formations is essential for site assessments, groundwater contamination analysis, and evaluating land suitability for development.
  • Hydrology: Knowledge of water distribution, movement, and quality is key for assessing hydrological risks, designing water treatment systems, and mitigating pollution impacts on water resources.

B. Regulatory Knowledge:

  • National and international environmental laws: Consultants must be well-versed in the intricacies of relevant environmental regulations, staying updated on changes and ensuring their clients comply with all applicable laws.
  • Permitting and licensing procedures: Navigating the permit and licensing process can be complex. Consultants need expertise in identifying necessary permits, preparing applications, and ensuring approvals are secured efficiently.
  • Understanding of regulatory agencies: Building relationships and understanding the expectations of regulatory agencies is vital for smooth project execution and avoiding potential conflicts.

C. Communication Skills:

  • Technical writing and reporting: Consultants need to effectively communicate complex scientific concepts and data to both technical and non-technical audiences, preparing clear and concise reports, proposals, and presentations.
  • Interpersonal communication: Effective communication with clients, stakeholders, and regulatory bodies is crucial for building trust, collaboration, and ensuring project success.
  • Active listening and negotiation: Consultants need to listen attentively to stakeholder concerns, adapt their communication style to diverse audiences, and negotiate collaboratively to reach mutually beneficial solutions.

D. Critical Thinking Skills:

  • Problem-solving and analysis: Environmental challenges are often multifaceted and require critical thinking skills to analyze data, identify root causes, and develop effective solutions.
  • Risk assessment and mitigation: Consultants need to assess potential environmental risks associated with projects and develop strategies to minimize or eliminate them, making informed decisions based on available data and scientific principles.
  • Adaptability and innovation: The environmental landscape is constantly evolving, so consultants need to be adaptable and embrace new technologies and approaches to address emerging challenges effectively.

Environmental Remediation: Healing the Scars of our Past

The legacy of industrial activity and human development often manifests in scars upon our planet – contaminated soil, polluted water, and air tainted by industrial toxins. This is where environmental remediation steps in, a powerful tool for healing these scars and restoring environmental health. It’s a delicate dance between science, engineering, and environmental responsibility, aiming to transform polluted landscapes into safe and thriving ecosystems once again.

A. Common Remediation Methods:

Environmental consultants, armed with their scientific knowledge and expertise, employ a diverse arsenal of remediation methods to combat contamination. Here are some of the most frequently used:

1. Excavation:

This traditional method involves physically removing contaminated soil or waste materials. It’s often employed for dealing with concentrated contamination hotspots or situations requiring rapid response. While effective, excavation can be disruptive and potentially generate disposal challenges.

2. Pump and Treat:

This method extracts contaminated water from a polluted site, treats it through filtration, chemical processes, or biological methods, and then returns it to the environment or disposes of it safely. It’s suitable for addressing groundwater contamination and is effective for ongoing treatment of persistent pollutants.

3. Bioremediation:

This natural approach harnesses the power of microorganisms to break down and degrade contaminants. Bacteria, fungi, or specially engineered microbes are introduced to the polluted site, where they metabolize contaminants as their source of energy, gradually cleaning up the environment. Bioremediation offers a sustainable and cost-effective option for certain types of contamination.

B. Determining the Appropriate Method:

Choosing the right remediation method is like solving a complex puzzle. Consultants meticulously analyze the type and extent of contamination, site characteristics, cost considerations, and desired outcome to select the most effective and responsible approach. Some key factors influencing the choice include:

  • Type of contaminant: Different contaminants require different breakdown mechanisms and treatment techniques.
  • Contamination level and distribution: Concentrated or widespread contamination may necessitate different approaches.
  • Site geology and hydrology: Soil and water properties influence the feasibility and effectiveness of various methods.
  • Regulatory requirements: Local and national regulations may dictate acceptable remediation methods and disposal options.
  • Cost and timeframes: Different methods vary in cost and time required for achieving desired results.

Environmental remediation is a dynamic field, constantly evolving with new technologies and approaches. Consultants stay at the forefront of these advancements, ensuring they offer their clients the most effective and responsible solutions for healing the planet’s environmental wounds.

The environmental consultancy industry is experiencing a dynamic resurgence, propelled by escalating environmental concerns and unwavering societal commitment to sustainability. Let’s delve into the key trends shaping its future:

A. Growing Demand for Sustainability Services:

  • Corporate sustainability initiatives: Businesses are increasingly integrating sustainability into their core operations, seeking consultant expertise in green building design, resource efficiency, carbon footprint reduction, and supply chain sustainability.
  • Green finance and investments: Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles are shaping investment decisions, creating demand for consultants to conduct sustainability audits, provide impact assessments, and develop green investment strategies.
  • Climate change adaptation and mitigation: As the urgency of climate action intensifies, businesses and governments are seeking consultant support in developing climate adaptation plans, implementing renewable energy solutions, and managing climate-related risks.

B. Use of Advanced Monitoring Technologies:

  • Big data analytics and AI: Consultants are harnessing the power of big data to analyze environmental data from sensors, satellites, and drones, gaining deeper insights into pollution patterns, ecological changes, and environmental risks.
  • Real-time monitoring and predictive modeling: Advanced sensors and connected devices provide real-time data on air quality, water quality, and other environmental parameters, enabling consultants to anticipate environmental changes and recommend proactive solutions.
  • Virtual reality and augmented reality: VR and AR are facilitating immersive environmental simulations, enabling consultants to visualize project impacts, engage stakeholders, and optimize remediation strategies.

C. Expansion into New Geographical Markets:

  • Emerging economies: Rapid urbanization and industrialization in developing economies create a rising demand for environmental consultancy services to address pollution, waste management, and resource depletion challenges.
  • Focus on renewable energy: The global shift towards renewable energy sources opens up new opportunities for consultants in project development, environmental permitting, and grid integration for solar, wind, and other renewable energy projects.
  • International collaboration: Cross-border collaboration and knowledge sharing are becoming increasingly important, as environmental challenges transcend national boundaries. Consultants are partnering across geographic regions to tackle complex issues like marine pollution, transboundary air pollution, and biodiversity loss.


The future of the environmental consultancy industry is bright, with projected market growth exceeding 5% per year in the coming years. Growing awareness of environmental problems, coupled with technological advancements and increasing regulation, will continue to drive demand for consultant expertise.

FAQ: Demystifying Environmental Consultancy

Q: What exactly is environmental consultancy?

A: Environmental consultancy is a collaborative effort between specialists and clients to navigate environmental challenges. Consultants provide expertise in areas like impact assessments, regulatory compliance, site assessments, and remediation, helping clients minimize their environmental footprint and operate sustainably.

Q: Who benefits from environmental consultancy services?

A: Businesses, developers, government agencies, and even individuals can benefit. Consultants help businesses comply with regulations, manage environmental risks, and implement sustainable practices. Communities can use their expertise for environmental cleanup, resource management, and infrastructure development.

Q: What are the different types of environmental consultancy services?

A: Services range from conducting environmental impact assessments to guiding sustainable development strategies. Common areas include site assessments, contamination remediation, regulatory compliance support, waste management solutions, and sustainability consulting.

Q: How do I choose the right environmental consultant?

A: Look for experience in your specific area of concern, relevant certifications, and a strong track record of successful projects. Communication skills, project management expertise, and a collaborative approach are also important factors.

Q: What is the future of the environmental consultancy industry?

A: The industry is poised for significant growth driven by factors like increasing demand for sustainability services, adoption of advanced monitoring technologies, and expansion into new markets. Consultants will play a crucial role in guiding the world towards a greener and more sustainable future.


Summary of Key Points:

  • Environmental consultancy empowers clients to tackle environmental challenges with expert guidance and solutions.
  • Services range from environmental assessments to remediation, sustainability strategies, and regulatory compliance support.
  • Choosing the right consultant requires considering experience, expertise, communication skills, and project management capabilities.
  • The industry is thriving due to growing environmental awareness, technological advancements, and global sustainability initiatives.

Final Takeaway:

Environmental consultancy isn’t just a service; it’s a partnership for a healthier planet. By understanding the value proposition and collaborating with experienced consultants, individuals, businesses, and communities can navigate the complex world of environmental challenges and contribute to a more sustainable future for all.

As sustainability becomes a mainstream priority, environmental consultants will play a crucial role in guiding businesses, governments, and individuals towards a greener and more sustainable future.

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