Secondment Spotlight – Lauren Harrison

Lauren Harrison working on flood risk secondment at her desk

Lauren Harrison is a Flood Risk & Drainage Consultant who is currently seconded to Balfour Beatty/Herefordshire Council. Since 2021, she has made a huge impact within her team. Here she highlights the key aspects of her role, what she enjoys the most, and her aspirations for the future.

“I work in a team of three people and I essentially review the flood risk and drainage strategies for planning applications for new developments. Most of these applications are for smaller, residential developments (around 5-30 houses), but many are agricultural sites involving the conversion and restoration of farm buildings. Some are commercial developments too – so no application or day is ever the same. For each application, I review the drainage strategy – including soakage test results and supporting sizing calculations – and determine whether they comply with the guidance and if it’s viable for the location. If there are any issues or missing pieces of information, I go back to the agents to request any additional tests they need to undertake and clarify any other information that may be needed. I’m also getting lots of exposure to flood risk management schemes with the Environment Agency in Herefordshire and hope to gain more experience in this in the near future.

I love that, in my role, every day is different. You definitely need to be organised to juggle different projects – many of the applications I review will be at different stages within the consultation and planning process, so this can be challenging. You also need to be a good communicator, especially when speaking with different agents and ensuring you communicate your advice clearly. Formal response writing is also a good skill to have because everything is written in technical language.

This role has been a great foot in the door to the water and flooding industry. I studied Geography at university, so gained a broad range of knowledge of various sectors, but I always wanted to work in flood risk. I think that Waterman Aspen’s support with encouraging training opportunities and the ability to explore other secondment roles is great, and something I found very reassuring when starting my first graduate job – it’s also great seeing the different projects your colleagues work on and learning from them too. I love my secondment – it was like learning a different language at first, but I feel like I’ve learnt quickly, and I enjoy seeing how much I’ve progressed. I’m hoping to become a member of CIWEM with the support from my mentor this year.”


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