RSK Geosciences Director Tom Henman has been elected as Deputy Chair of the Specialist in Land Condition Register (SiLC) Professional and Technical Panel (PTP). RSK caught up with Tom to find out all about his new role.
Q. Congratulations on your new role, Tom! For anyone who doesn’t know, what is SiLC and what is the role of the PTP?
A registered SiLC (Specialist in Land Condition) is a senior practitioner who has a broad awareness, knowledge and understanding of land condition issues, providing impartial and professional advice in their field of expertise. Subject to passing an additional online exam, a SiLC is also able to act as an SQP (Suitably Qualified Person) to sign off land contamination-related reports under the UK National Quality Mark Scheme (NQMS).
The SiLC Register is run and administered by a Professional and Technical Panel (PTP) which comprises representatives from the supporting professional bodies and a small number of “co-opted” members. The PTP develops and implements the assessment process for registering new SiLCs and engages with the wider SiLC community in helping the register run smoothly. It also promotes good technical and behavioural standards in the brownfield sector.
Q. How long have you been registered with SiLC and have you held any other roles within the organisation?
I have been a SiLC since 2009 and a SiLC assessor examining prospective candidates since 2015. I am RSK’s Head of Profession for SiLC and have successfully mentored several candidates within RSK in the last five years. I have not been involved with the PTP to date, but other RSK senior staff, such as Peter Witherington, have been involved over a long period.
Q. Now that you are Deputy Chair of the PTP, what will your role involve?
The Deputy Chair role primarily supports the Chair in the work of SiLC, including promoting the roles of both SiLCs and SQPs, engaging with the exam development team to ensure exams are produced and marked, and organising the SiLC Annual Forum.
I will take over the role of PTP Chair in two years’ time for a further two-year term.
Q. Why have you taken on the role and what do you hope to achieve?
My main interest in taking on the role of Deputy Chair of the PTP is to champion technical quality within our industry sector and promote the raising of standards. I have been passionate about this throughout my career. As the overall technical lead within Geosciences, I am able to influence RSK’s approach to technical quality, but the SiLC role provides a much wider platform to do this. I am keen that, as an organisation, SiLC engages more effectively with the SiLC membership but also with others, such as professional bodies and public sector regulators, who have shared goals.
I hope to inspire others to strive to achieve the highest technical standards and to develop their professional careers to the benefit of our industry and wider society.
Q. How does this all fit into “the bigger picture”?
Land is a scarce asset in the UK and there remains a legacy of land contamination from historical industrialisation, mining and ongoing industrial activities. Post-Brexit and following the current economic crisis, a deregulatory agenda may again come to the fore. However, land affected by contamination needs to be developed safely to protect public health, and authoritative voices will be needed to defend the regulatory burden of “red tape”. Organisations such as SiLC, that champion quality in land condition assessments, are critically important in making sure that this happens and that we avoid a recurrence of cases such as Corby and Gorebridge.
More information on SiLC can be found on the website.