Shoots of recovery for contaminated land consultancies
After the downturn brought about by the credit crunch and recession in the late 2000s, latest market figures by Environment Analyst suggest the contaminated land consulting sub-sector is enjoying a period of growth.
While the sector’s recovery has been slower than many hoped - with revenues still not reaching the £253 million peak recorded in 2008 - the recent strength of the UK’s infrastructure and housing markets means that despite difficult conditions in sectors like oil and gas, many environmental consultancies are seeing continuous growth within their contaminated land activities.
One leading firm in the contaminated land consultancy area to have reported an increase in sales in the last three years is Golder Associates; whose team of specialists offering high-end technical and risk assessment services exceeded its target revenue for last year by 10%.
Bryan Cherry, Contaminated Land Divisional Manager at OHES Environmental, says that recent merger and acquisition activity carried out by some companies at the top end of the industry has led to “increased competition amongst smaller players” in the field.
“I think there’s probably more SME consultancies than there were pre-recession, some set up by ex-employees of the larger firms who have chosen to go solo or were made redundant,” he said.
“Some of these have developed quite significantly over the past few years to become notable players in this market.”
However, while large parts of the contaminated land consultancy industry are currently going through a healthy period, recruiting to fulfil the growing order books is proving to be a challenge for many of these firms.
Feeling the effects of the loss of talent through redundancies during the recession years, the fight to recruit fresh talent is very intense.
Technical Director of WSP, Andy Moore, said: “For skilled and experienced candidates it’s almost a free market, there’s a lot of opportunities.
“We’re also starting to see consultants retire and leave the industry altogether, but we still need to grow so need lots of new staff. Recruitment is a lot more difficult than it was before the recession.”