8 August 2016
Hazel Gillings has recently joined our Environment team in Leeds as an Associate. Specialising in Environmental Due Diligence (EDD), Hazel will be responsible for providing expert environmental advice to clients involved in property and corporate transactions, through acquisition, ownership and divestment and for financial purposes to provide loan security.
We take this opportunity to welcome Hazel to the team and highlight her skills, expertise and aspirations for her new role.
“Environmental surveys are often a small but key component of the due diligence process as significant risks can be identified which can cause delays and cost implications.”
What attracted you to this field of expertise?
I trained as a geologist at the University of Manchester and have a Master’s degree in Earth Sciences. I am also a Fellow of the Geological Society and a member of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA).
With over 12 years’ experience in the environmental consultancy sector, my career started with overseeing site investigations for geo-environmental and geotechnical surveys. I then progressed into consultancy work predominantly focussed on contaminated land risk assessments for redevelopment and planning purposes. It was during this time that I had the opportunity to work on a multi-site EDD portfolio which I enjoyed and have worked on commercially focussed EDD projects ever since.
What are you most passionate about in this field?
Seeing a complicated multi-site deal go through smoothly for a client is a great feeling. I enjoy the fast paced and demanding nature of the work, working alongside legal and property professionals where our advice on environmental liability is valued by the wider due diligence team. The work is varied and can be a single or multi-site portfolio. I also enjoy getting a glimpse inside a wide range of operational facilities; I’ve seen food, automotive, pharmaceutical, chemical and product manufacturing, logistics depots, care homes, hotels, offices and industrial estates amongst others.
How will you work with the environment team and wider business?
WYG has a fantastic team of in-house consultants, both in the UK and overseas, and the nature of EDD is that each site is different so having a broad range of specialists at hand is extremely valuable. The aim is to provide commercially focussed solutions to help a client progress the deal, so if the project requires an additional audit in another discipline then in most cases we can quickly mobilise someone from our business.
What projects are you most proud of?
As is the nature of EDD, many of the transactions are confidential and I have been involved in many projects with blue chip clients, large financial investment and pension funds, and legal teams. My largest portfolio to date is over 140 sites, however one of my proudest is a single site acquisition:
The purchase had been stalled due to environmental concerns at the metal plating facility in the northwest of England. Complicated lease agreements prevented the use of intrusive investigation as an assessment tool, so I used a team of remediation, geo-environmental and groundwater experts to consider a likely scenario and associated cost implications. The deal went ahead on the advice of their legal counsel using our advice to develop clauses protecting the Client from associated liabilities and obtaining the best price for the investment firm.