Who Makes This Stuff?

Paul Downing

When I started in environmental consultancy some 25 years ago the UK manufacturing sector was contributing some 20% of UK GDP. Strong environmental regulation of industry such as paper mills, power stations, food factories, steel mills and the like was the bread and butter of my business. Contaminated land surveys, environmental permits, enforcement notices, waste water monitoring, planning conditions were all core services that most environmental consultants were providing at the time, servicing those companies who “made” something. Sadly many businesses have now sold up to developers or moved overseas realising that the value of the land the factory was sited on was worth more than the business they ran.

Today the environmental consultancy market has changed slightly, the move to cleaner fuels, clean up of contaminated land and tighter controls over waste, asbestos and chemical use has contributed towards a cleaner working environment and the services that environmental consultants provide to industry has adapted to this new landscape. Environmental regulation has changed too, with regulators woorking with businesses to help them comply. Carbon and energy services continue to grow as companies look to reduce costs on the back of ever increasing fuel prices. I don’t think I had ever heard of a “data centre” in the 80’s, now I work with them to help implement energy management systems. This is progress and is to be welcomed.

Despite the decline in manufacturing since the 70’s/80’s the UK still leads the way in aerospace engineering which ranks second globally and the UK car based industry had its best year in new car sales in the first half of 2014. This is all good news for the smaller engineering firms, fabricators and plastic moulders out there who supply to the larger corporates. Despite the testing recent economic conditions, these smaller companies are still alive and kicking and making “stuff”. They are the backbone of UK manufacturing, may they thrive and prosper and continue to contribute to the economic recovery of the UK.

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