ConsultantsApril 24th 2015
It has been said that ‘…consultants know a little about many different things, but don’t know a lot about anything ‘….Over the last few years I have been asked to give presentations at several consultants who have been interested to learn about the problems associated with Japanese Knotweed. They have listened and learned - and on more than one occasion asked for a site based follow up to ensure that their powers on identification are ‘up to speed’.
What then amazes me is that within a fairly short period of time after just being introduced to Japanese Knotweed - these companies then set up as…. ‘Consultants name JK’… and call themselves the UK experts in Japanese Knotweed….
I don’t get paid for these presentations and I’ve often been asked to pay for lunch for all the attendees. It takes some gall to ask somebody to help you, expect them to do it FOC, and pay for lunch…then you basically screw them over and nick their ideas.
I’ve even had somebody film my presentation - then repeat it… word for word, joke for joke…then appear on the BBC as the UK expert on a plant…. when six weeks previously… he had no idea even what it even looked like. I would have loved to know he was on the radio and been able to ask him a few questions about other invasive species or even other varieties of Japanese Knotweed …he would have been clueless (…and he still is)
One of our surveyors has just returned from a site in London where he met a lady consultant from A****s who was carrying out some ground investigation works. Our surveyor pointed out the areas of Japanese Knotweed on site….and was told… ‘that’s NOT Japanese Knotweed it’s Himalayan balsam’ …errr duuuh this is what we do for a living…what sort of person would:
1. Make such a schoolboy error
2. Not be savvy enough to check their facts before making such an error
3. Not be big enough to admit they were wrong
4. Not realise the potential cost implication of such a cock up
A piece of advice that my Dad once gave me … ‘if you don’t know what you’re talking about – keep your mouth shut’….pity this lady consultant didn’t follow this simple procedure.
My back ground is that I trained as a Landscape Architect – I say ‘trained’- it was more of a drug fuelled alcohol fest with the occasional life study class thrown in…but three years later I walked away with a degree. I managed to go all the way through the Leeds course with a very limited knowledge of plants and some very basic drawing skills – yet I came away with a degree. Being a little disappointed in the Leeds course I then decided to do a Post Grad at Birmingham on a course famed for its detailed approach to Landscape studies, Birmingham was very similar but required more plant knowledge and some serious studying.
Both of the courses that I did- seemed to relish bullshit. If you could talk a load of twaddle about design principles and had a bit of plant knowledge – then you could be a Landscape Architect.
Nearly every Landscape Architect I have come across falls into the category ‘knows a little’ …yet each and every one of them seems to think they are God’s gift to knowledge…and are the font of all wisdom. I was on site a couple of weeks ago and had the pleasure of a ‘Landscape Architect’ trying to tell ME about Japanese Knotweed…FFS
We recently saw a copy of an ecologists report submitted for a client of ours – this had several pages on bats, two pages on badgers, three pages on Greater Crested Newts….then in the final paragraph a note that … ‘ we have also noted Japanese Knotweed on site’.
The potential cost implication of the ‘noted Japanese Knotweed’ was £2.4 million pounds
And don’t even start me on Planners….
We currently have a site which has a planning condition relating to Japanese Knotweed – the client wants the work done, the planners have indicated they want the work done, we have an instruction from the client to do the work….yet nobody within the planning department seems able to actually go into print to say … ‘yes please proceed’…so we all just sit around with our thumbs up our arses whilst the Japanese Knotweed on site just laughs at us….. and carries on growing….
Neighbour walls, TPO conditions, access roads, rights of way, public access, newts, water voles, lizards …the list is endless and they all stop us carrying out herbicidal spraying and excavation works to remove invasive species…
Whilst the consultants are arguing these invasive non-native species are setting seed and boosting their underground storage organs for over winter…
So maybe in 2015 the stance should be – ‘less talk more action’ – or maybe… ‘shoot first, ask questions later’…?
These invasive plants rely on our inactivity and our inability to act quickly and decisively – maybe it’s time for a change?