Meet our staff

Meet two of our superstar staff – Nathan Dougherty, an incident response officer, and Georgia Simmonds, one of our resource management officers.

Nathan Dougherty

Nathan Dougherty

Meet Nathan Dougherty

Nathan Dougherty has been with Environment Canterbury since 2001.

He started off with Customer Services, then moved into a compliance role monitoring resource consents.

He has been a team leader and technical specialist, but Nathan is now working as an incident response officer – a role he has been in since 2015.

 

 

 

 

What does a day in your life look like?

Every day looks different and that’s something I love about the role.

This morning I’ve been working with a new colleague, running them through some of the enforcement actions we need to take. We came across a query that we couldn’t quite resolve. It was to do with an interpretation of a plan that’s relevant for an activity we’re investigating. We went to customer services and worked with them to find the correct interpretation of the rule we’re looking for.

After that, it was time to go to a meeting off-site to advise a customer about discharging water from a sewer trench on a construction site into the Avon River.

On the way there we had to divert to the Heathcote River because we received an alert from the fire service that there was a car in the river. By the time we arrived the car had been removed from the river and, fortunately, there were no hydrocarbons of concern.

We then headed to Fendalton for our initial meeting. It went well. We were able to give some really good advice about the steps to take to avoid non-compliance and negative environmental impacts.

All this was before lunchtime!

What is the most challenging aspect of your role?

The most challenging aspect is dealing with upset or angry people who maybe aren’t so pleased to see us.

We ultimately want to help people to comply, but there are some people who perhaps don't always have regard for the consequences of their actions and disregard our advice to achieve compliance.

What would you say is the most rewarding part of the job?

The most rewarding part is when people who don’t necessarily appreciate what we are trying to achieve ultimately come on board and accept what’s best. This happens after a kōrero with the person involved about what’s going on and talking about ways we could improve the situation.

For example, I once had a conversation with a drain layer who was discharging dirty water. I stepped him through the problem, which he initially didn’t think was an issue; but, after talking about it, he understood the potential effects on the waterway. He owned the problem and worked out how he could fix the issue.

This was a great result. It’s incredibly rewarding knowing there is another person and another company heading in the right direction.

What do you wish the public knew about your role?

That we can’t always make everyone happy. We can often be stuck in the middle, so to speak.

For example, sometimes we have people who want us to completely solve what they see as an environmental issue, which turns out to be more of a neighbourhood dispute than a compliance matter. And on the other side of the fence is the person who maybe doesn’t see a problem with what they're doing.

The activity might be marginal in terms of its lawfulness or degree of compliance, but we may not be able to make the upset person completely happy. We will always try and get the best result we can, but I suppose we’d urge the public to be realistic with their expectations.

Finally, is there anything you would like to add?

If you’re in doubt about what you’re doing, please call us. We’re always happy to provide advice. We’d much rather help in the beginning than have to gather evidence after the fact. Get in touch – we love hearing from you and we’re always happy to help.

Georgia Simmonds

Georgia Simmonds

Meet Georgia Simmonds

Georgia has been working for Environment Canterbury as a resource management officer since 2020.

She started with the organisation after completing her Masters in Environmental Management at Massey University in September 2020.

Georgia was thrilled to join the organisation and fulfil her goal of moving to the South Island, where she was excited to be closer to the mountains and sea.

 

 

 

What does a day in your life look like?

Well, within the first half an hour of arriving at work today, I had to leave for a site meeting. It was a retrospective pre-construction meeting, as construction has already started.

It’s rare for this kind of work to begin before meeting with us, but it does happen from time to time.

After that, I went back to the office and had a catch-up with my team about what impact the new COVID-19 traffic light system will have on our work.

Since then, I’ve been working away on some erosion and sediment control documents, preparing an abatement notice, and organising some site meetings for next week.

What is the most challenging aspect of your role?

The most intense part is probably the administration side of it. There’s a lot of writing involved.

For instance, if you’ve found something that’s significantly non-compliant on a site, you may need to move towards the enforcement side of things.

This is where it can get quite challenging. You need to be on top of what you’re doing and be really thorough along the way. 

What would you say is the most rewarding part of the job?

The most rewarding part for me is going out on-site and meeting up with contractors and consent holders and helping them understand why it’s important to be compliant and not skip certain steps.

It’s really satisfying when they start to understand the importance of taking the right measures and can see the benefits of being compliant for themselves. 

What do you wish the public knew about your role?

That it is so multi-faceted. It’s not just going out to sites, determining if people are taking the right steps and complying with their consent.

A lot of it is education-based, bringing people up to speed and helping them understand why consents are so vital.

Finally, is there anything you would like to add?

The role itself is so much fun. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of work, but it’s equally so rewarding. It’s a great job – one that I’d recommend to anyone. And you’re never bored, that’s for sure.

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