Energy, Environment, Europe, People Spotlight, United Kingdom

Our People Spotlight series gives you an inside look at our technical experts around the world. This week, we are highlighting a consenting lead from our environment business line in Europe and providing you insight into his client-facing inspiration and work.

Richard Lowe is a director in our Energy sector. He started with the company over 20 years ago, initially as a senior air quality consultant before moving to permitting and specializing in the power sector. He now leads our energy sector work and in particular, Development Consent Order (DCO) applications for energy projects. He’s worked on 12 to date, including two first-of-a-kind carbon capture projects.

What inspired you to join the industry? I have always had a desire to work on air quality issues for a range of industries, which led me to complete a Master of Science degree in Pollution Control. I was also fascinated by the Ferrybridge power station whenever I’d drive past it. I wanted to work there someday because of its scale and the importance of its role in helping to power the country. I also felt that consultancy would allow me opportunities to advise clients on a range of sites and projects and was interested in the variety that would bring.

What is your favorite AECOM project that you’ve worked on and why? It has to be Net Zero Teesside, which is now one of the highest profile carbon capture decarbonization projects in Europe, if not the world. It is a carbon capture utilization and storage project with the aim to decarbonize a cluster of carbon-intensive businesses in northeast England by 2030.

Built on regenerated former steelworks land, the scheme includes a new gas-fired power station, incorporating the latest carbon capture technology. The aim is to capture carbon dioxide from the power station and local industries, which will be gathered through a carbon dioxide pipeline network, then compressed and transported for permanent storage at a suitable offshore geological site under the North Sea.

I was first involved in the site selection for the project, which has subsequently led the consenting phase with integrated support from AECOM’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), permitting, engineering, remediation and stakeholder engagement teams, including both public and virtual consultation.

As the longest serving individual working over the entire project, I see this development as instrumental in proving if carbon capture can be part of the drive to net zero in the UK and Europe. 

Tell us a story of how your work positively impacted the community. In my support role to our client, SSE, I sat on their Community Liaison Group at Ferrybridge as the only external advisor, having worked on both the EIA for the Ferrybridge multifuel (FM1 and FM2) power stations on the site, and on the environmental permit for the coal-fired power station, itself. 

In this role, I directly engaged with members of the local community and key stakeholders on a regular basis to address their environmental concerns relating to the site developments. Working directly with the public demonstrates the importance of providing full transparency, listening to concerns and finding solutions to reassure communities. Providing positive, impactful solutions for businesses and communities requires continuous open dialogue. Our virtual consultations tool has been really useful in engaging with communities, especially during the coronavirus pandemic when we couldn’t meet face-to-face.

What piece of career advice would you like to share? Keep talking with and listening to the clients you work for so you can continue to deliver quality solutions to their problems. Clients want to work with people they trust and enjoy working with, so building and maintaining relationships is really important. Don’t just move on to the next project and forget the client you have worked with – you never know what new opportunities they may provide for new work.

Originally published Sep 15, 2021

Author: Richard Lowe