Happy 2023! I hope the festive break provided you all with a wonderful opportunity to enjoy precious time with your families and friends. Here at the Institute, we have returned following the Christmas break and are energised by what the next 12 months hold, as our exciting new vision for IQ starts to take shape.
It has been a busy beginning to my term as IQ President. Starting with the AGM last month, October is now providing plenty of opportunities for me to meet with members at various events and activities.
This September marks the change in President at the Institute. As the incoming President, I would like to start by thanking Martin Riley for his commitment and dedication to the role over the last two years.
This month is my last as President of the Institute before passing the baton to Viv Russell in September.
It seems incredible that we are already in the second half of the year. We have just seen the welcome return of Hillhead after a gap of four years, and I know the team enjoyed catching up with the members that attended during the three days of the show. What is also passing quickly is my term as IQ President, as next month will be my last.
Incredibly, we are now entering the year's second quarter. Nearly everyone I speak to agrees that 2022 seems to be passing by like a blur. This time of year brings the arrival of spring in the UK and hopefully the promise of better weather on the way.
Seeing the first signs of new life and growth around us is an excellent reminder of the positive impact we make on the natural environment in which we operate. Most of us can probably recall one of the plenty of case studies highlighting the various projects that different companies have put into place in recent years. These projects aim to provide sites of high ecological value during and at the end of operational activities, supporting wildlife and biodiversity.
Often these spaces also create vital and valued facilities for local communities that have become so important for everyone, particularly in light of the events of the last couple of years. The MPA's Quarries & Nature - A 50 Year Success Story showcases the excellent work that has been carried out and the value that our industry contributes to this area.
However, as members of the Institute, we should be ambitious in continuously seeking to improve and challenge ourselves. To understand how we as the professional body can support the industry in driving even more remarkable achievements.
We know that the operational context is changing with the regulatory changes driven by the new Environment Act and the development of the agenda around Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG). Across the industry, there has been much discussion of the BNG and its ability to reflect our industry accurately. The current round of consultation ends at the beginning of this month, and we will update members with the outcomes as it becomes clear.
It is also timely for the Institute as we relocate to the National Stone Centre at Wirksworth, which is six former quarries, and surrounded by restoration projects from the industry demonstrating what can be done in delivering high-quality biodiverse landscapes.
With these sites and their resources now available to us, the Institute is actively developing new training for members and the broader industry around the restoration agenda. We play our part in supporting the drive to a more sustainable future.
Looking across social media and from previous experience, I know many feel privileged to work in such beautiful parts of the country. We share that sense of stewardship from the sites we are responsible for.
As professionals and members of the Institute, let's keep striving to protect and manage our sites, delivering the vital products the country and the economy needs whilst preserving and enhancing the landscapes we operate in and the communities we serve.
Writing this month's column coincided with National Apprenticeship Week. The annual campaign celebrates apprentices and the value of an apprenticeship as a foundation for future success.
The new year is now well and truly underway and we have quickly become immersed in delivering this year’s organisational plans and focusing on day-to-day operations. It’s often all too easy for us to neglect our own personal development needs.
As we begin the New Year, there is a sense of Groundhog Day for many of us. We are grappling with uncertainties surrounding the latest Covid variant, the disruption it is causing and how it may affect us in the coming months.