Our Team

Leaders in Environmental Consultancy Research
Our team's expertise in environmental research for consultancy projects is unrivalled; we are leaders in the field. The edge we enjoy over others in our field is based on a strong foundation in non-commercial and academic research having altogether published over 200 peer reviewed papers (Click here to view publications by our staff). We also have acquired a broad spectrum of specialist skills and knowledge over many years of practical experience. Our principal researchers are highly regarded by their peers and we employ similarly qualified field researchers, data analysts and administrators. These skills and our integrity in critical evaluation are the bases for our high standard of reporting. As an established environmental consultancy, we recognize our clients needs, whilst still retaining independent integrity needed to conduct high-quality research. We have worked with national and international organisations on a variety of environmental issues.

Our Team
We employ high-quality field researchers, whose work may be seasonal. Their skills and integrity in reporting are the bases for our high standard of analyses and reporting. Our core team comprises the following experts.

Directors

Phil Whitfield BSc (Hons), PhD

Phil's professional career with birds started in the early 1980s at Edinburgh and Cambridge Universities (PhD and Research Fellowship, respectively) researching the behaviour and ecology of wintering and breeding shorebirds (waders) before leaving academia for the Nature Conservancy Council (NCC) to run the Montane Ecology Project, a long-term study of the interactions between birds, invertebrates, vegetation, grazing, recreation and climate in montane Scotland. He joined Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the government's advisor on conservation in Scotland, as upland ornithologist, when the NCC devolved to country agencies in 1992, undertaking and commissioning research and providing advice on a wide range of ornithological issues. Phil routinely formulated SNH’s response to ornithological impact assessments in hundreds of cases, especially those involving wind farms, and he formulated and represented SNH's position on ornithological issues at several Public Local Inquiries, including wind farm cases. Phil assisted in the organisation and made presentations for several SNH staff training events involving bird interests, including how to examine and respond to Environmental Impact Assessments involving wind farm proposals. He also organised and made key presentations at a SNH workshop for ecological consultants and industry representatives on Developing Best Practice in wind farm impact assessment.

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Phil left SNH when Senior Ornithologist to join Natural Research in 2005. In late 2009 he became Managing Director of Natural Research (Projects).

Phil has authored over 70 peer-reviewed papers and numerous reports and articles. His research interests continue to be with shorebirds, with previous projects having been based in Scotland, Finland, Iceland, Norway, high arctic Canada, and the north slope of Alaska, working on a number of species including Eurasian dotterel, phalaropes, several calidridine sandpipers and plovers, turnstone and redshank. A later interest in birds of prey began when it became apparent several of his shorebird subjects were being killed by raptors, prompting several studies of the effects of raptor predation on shorebird behaviour and population ecology.

Other work has included organising national surveys, supervision of several PhD students, raptor reintroductions, using GIS to study spatial ecology and model ranging behavior (the ‘PAT’ model for Golden Eagles), raptor and shorebird population dynamics, sexual selection, plumage variability, feeding specialisations, effects of habitat loss and incubation behaviour. Most recent work has been on the population ecology and conservation of Golden Eagles, and on impacts of wind farms on birds and methods for their study.

Phil was the primary author and developer of the original SNH guidance on assessment methods for wind farm impacts on birds. This guidance has now become the basis for most EIAs undertaken in the UK and is recognised as the industry-standard. He is a co-author on a key paper describing methods that can be used to estimate predicted collision fatalities at operational wind farms (the ‘Band’ collision risk model): this model has been used for many years in the assessment of wind farm effects on birds in the UK, and it is being increasingly used in other countries. Since joining Natural Research, Phil has continued to provide advice on, for example, developing standard metrics in wind turbine collision risk modelling and in producing guidance on monitoring wind farm impacts. Phil has written several Environmental Statement chapters assessing the potential effects of wind farm proposals on birds, and oversees production of all such chapters produced by NRP for commercial clients.

Phil has regularly lectured University of Edinburgh students on the methods and skills necessary to assess and monitor wind farm impacts on birds. He was also part of the lecturing staff for a Raptor Conservation course for students at the International University of Andalucía, Baeza, which included his contribution of a module on Wind Farms and Raptors. Phil acts as the Independent Ornithological Expert for a large operational wind farm in north-east Bulgaria, advises World Wildlife Fund (Greece) on responding to and monitoring wind energy proposals in Thrace, and was a member of the science committee for the First Iberian Conference on Wind Energy and Wildlife.

Click here for Phil's CV.


Fiona Leckie BSc (Hons)

Fiona is a Director, Senior Project Manager, and Data Manager for Natural Research (Projects).

Since she joined NRP in December 2007, Fiona has project managed and undertaken fieldwork on a number of proposed and existing windfarm sites in Scotland and Northern Ireland. As a project manager she writes tenders and cost estimates for projects; liaises with clients, landowners and field surveyors; provides updates on continuing fieldwork; writes the Technical Reports once fieldwork is complete; and peer-reviews other project managers’ reports as part of our internal Quality Assurance mechanisms.  She is also part of the team which writes the Ornithology Assessment Chapters for Environmental Statements.

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Fiona is competent in the use of GIS and as Data Manager, along with the other Data Team members, is responsible for the maintenance and development of the data entry and storage systems.  She is also ESAS trained for offshore bird survey work. Out with the commercial project work, Fiona instigated NR participation in a collaborative research project on capercaillie disturbance for which she participates in the fieldwork and GIS analysis.

Fiona graduated with an honours degree in Zoology from Aberdeen University in 1992. She has worked on a number of research projects around Scotland, including the 'Langholm' raptors and red grouse project; RSPB wader survey and seabird work; the Game Conservancy Trust woodland grouse project; and work on raven and chough. She has also worked overseas, studying yellow-eyed penguins in New Zealand. From 1998 to 2007 Fiona worked for Institute of Terrestrial Ecology (latterly Centre for Ecology and Hydrology) in Banchory, when she was involved with field and lab work on a number of high profile projects relating to hen harriers, red grouse, woodland grouse and meadow pipits. She also broadened her field skills to include projects on otters, racing pigeons, and plants.


Lynda Maddrick CIMA Cert BA

Lynda joined NRP in 2009 and has more than 20 years' experience in finance and administration. Lynda is responsible for business planning, budgeting and financial forecasting; contract management; and human resources.

Project Managers

Iain Mackenzie BSc (Hons), MSc

Iain is a Senior Project Ecologist with Natural Research (Projects), having joined the company in March 2009. Iain is responsible for coordinating and conducting baseline bird surveys, analysing field data and writing technical reports for clients at development sites in western and southern Scotland. He also manages post-construction bird monitoring work on wind farm sites. Iain is part of the team which writes ornithology chapters for Environmental Statements, with experience in assessing the impacts of wind farm, powerline and forestry projects on birds.

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He is a qualified tree-climber, and has received training in rope access work, hill and mountain safety, health and safety and first aid.

Iain studied Zoology at the University of Glasgow before completing a Masters in Applied Ecology and Conservation at the University of East Anglia. For three years Iain was responsible for the day-to-day management of the Uist Wader Project, a partnership between SNH, RSPB and the Scottish Government; this tested ways of reducing the threat to Uists’ breeding waders from non-native hedgehogs. Iain then worked for RSPB Scotland for five years where he organised and carried out upland bird surveys in Tayside, and provided conservation management advice to land managers in the uplands. While with RSPB Scotland, Iain also spent a year coordinating the production of a successful bid to the EU LIFE+ programme to fund a conservation management project for Scotland’s machair habitat.

 

Blair Urquhart

Blair is a Senior Research Ecologist who joined NRP in 2011.

He is responsible in NRP for project management of ornithological assessment work, involving the preparation of EIAs and Habitat Regulations Appraisals (HRAs) for development proposals, principally onshore wind farms, and providing advice on planning constraints, mitigation and monitoring. He advises clients on a range of ornithological issues including interpretation of data and highlighting relevant legislative obligations. Blair has been an expert witness on ornithological issues for a renewable energy developer at public inquiry.

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With a particular interest in interpreting and analysing complex ornithological data, Blair has developed bespoke models, accounting for behavioural differences between species, evaluating collision mortality and its effects using Population Viability Analysis.  These models include an oblique approach Collision Risk Model, revisions to SNH predictable and unpredictable Collision Risk Models, a bespoke goose Collision Risk Model; and corncrake and hen harrier population models (incorporating mortality interactions).

Since graduating from SAC Auchincruive with a diploma, in Conservation Management (with distinction), Blair has almost 20 years’ experience working with birds and their conservation.   This includes over 10 years of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and renewable energy experience, both as a consultant and as a renewables casework advisor for Scottish Natural Heritage.  Acting as SNH’s lead for certain complex, contentious or novel renewable energy casework, he provided statutory advice and guidance on the impact of renewable development on birds.  This included providing advice for public inquiry.  He also contributed to the development of SNH guidance in relation to birds, their interaction with wind energy developments and impact assessment.

 

Fieldworkers

Duncan Cameron

Duncan joined Natural Research (Projects) in March 2009 and is currently employed as a full-time Field Ecologist. In this role, he undertakes generic day to day and focussed species surveys, mainly in Central Scotland and Argyll. Duncan’s time with NRP has also included commercial research into the impact of wind farms on the Red Kite population of central Scotland, involving radio tracking Red Kites and conducting searcher and carcass removal trials to estimate rates of turbine strikes.

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As for all NRP field staff, Duncan has successfully completed a range of training courses, including rock climbing, first aid and height-distance estimation.

Duncan previously worked for the Woodland Trust Scotland and then for the RSPB for nine years in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park at Inversnaid Reserve. He was also RSPB’s Red Kite officer in Central Scotland, when he was involved in radio telemetry and individual kite survival monitoring. A member of Central Scotland Raptor Study Group since 1999, he is the group’s co-ordinator for Hen Harrier, Merlin and Short-eared Owl.

Over the years, he has also worked on a wide range of other bird species including Tree Sparrow, Pied Flycatcher, Capercaillie, Peregrine, White-tailed Eagle and Black Grouse. Black Grouse work involved monitoring and finding lek sites, and monitoring deer fences for bird strikes. He has also been involved with Golden Eagle protection watches. Mammal survey experience includes feral goat, Red Fox and Red Deer.

 

Ged Connelly

Ged has worked for Natural Research (Projects) since 2003, employed full-time as a Senior Field Ecologist.

He is involved in conducting generic day to day surveys and species–specific surveys at a range of potential and constructed wind farm sites, mainly in southern and western Scotland. NRP’s work depends upon quality field work and Ged is a key member of NRP’s staff in maintaining and building on this high quality. Ged’s skills have been passed on to many more recent employees through field-based training exercises, as his knowledge goes beyond that available from field survey manuals. When Ged is not looking at wildlife through binoculars, he is often doing so through a camera because he is a keen and accomplished photographer.

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As well as training other staff in his many areas of field survey expertise, Ged is also a regular recipient of NRP’s ongoing training exercises designed to constantly improve the accuracy of generic field observation methods (e.g. vantage point survey techniques) and health and safety standards.

Ged traces his interest in natural history back to his childhood. In his employment he has always sought jobs that would get him outdoors. So, he started his working life working in forestry. His lifelong interest in wildlife and spending much of life out in the field has trained him to be an excellent observer and he has a range of field skills that are difficult to find in biologists nowadays. Over the years he has honed his field observation experience on a number of bird species, and has developed an impressive skill set in finding breeding birds of prey, with a particular interest in owls.

 

John Halliday

John joined NRP as a Field Ecologist in March 2013.

He is involved in conducting generic day to day surveys and species–specific surveys at a range of potential wind farm sites, mainly across southwest Scotland. John has received appropriate training through NRP courses, such as height and distance estimation, and use of SPOT messenger, to complement his considerable field skills and experience.

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Since graduating with an Ecology degree from Edinburgh University in 1976, John has worked continuously in nature conservation in the UK and abroad.  This commenced with a series of contracts for various conservation bodies including the Nature Conservancy Council and the RSPB, mainly involving ornithological survey work and research, and later in nature reserve management.  During this period, John travelled and worked extensively in southern and eastern Africa and Nepal. In Nepal, John carried out forest bird surveys for Birdlife International involving organising expeditions to remote forests in eastern Nepal as well as bird surveys in various national parks including Chitwan. 

Eventually John settled down and secured the post of Reserve Manager with Scottish Natural Heritage in Argyll, a position he held for 23 years.  During this period highlights included managing habitats for rare butterflies and developing three National Nature Reserves for visitors to enjoy.  At home in Argyll, John continues to pursue his special interests in raptor monitoring and Lepidoptera.  

 

Bob Stakim

Bob has been employed full-time as a Senior Field Ecologist with NRP since 2003.

He is involved in conducting generic day to day surveys and species–specific surveys at a range of potential and constructed wind farm sites, mainly across Central Scotland. He has also participated in specialist studies for NRP which have taken him to Shetland, Wales, Ireland, Poland & Kazakhstan. In Kazakhstan he was involved, over three breeding seasons, in collecting field data for a Natural Research-funded PhD study on Pallid Harrier and Montagu’s Harrier. In Poland and Ireland, he was involved in training local field surveyors in SNH-based methods of recording flight activity and other survey protocols, prior to commencement of work on potential wind farm sites in those countries.

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He has attended the many NRP training courses, including height-distance estimation and first aid and is trained to mountain leadership standard.

Bob has a life-long interest in birds, specializing in moorland & upland communities. Bob is a long standing member of South Strathclyde Raptor Study Group and currently Merlin co-coordinator for the group. He has been studying upland raptors under licence from SNH since 1983. Prior to joining Natural Research (Projects), Bob carried out bird survey work for Scottish Coal and various consultancies.

 

Data, GIS and Reporting Team

Lauren Jackson

Lauren has worked for NRP since 2006, initially in field surveys and data processing. In particular she has been involved in the Red-throated Diver and Whimbrel studies in Shetland. Lauren works part-time for NRP as an analysis and administration assistant, entering data, and analysing moorland bird survey results.

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Lauren has an Honours degree in Environmental Science from Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.

 

Dave Scott BSc (Hons)

David joined the Natural Research (Projects) Data, GIS and Reporting team in 2010.

David is responsible for GIS data entry and map production, and also provides summary statistics and maps for collision risk modelling and undertakes PAT (prediction of Golden Eagle range use) modelling and reporting.

As an author on over 25 peer reviewed papers and numerous reports David is very experienced in data handling and analysis and has been a GIS user for more than 20 years.

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David graduated from Dundee College of Technology with an HND in Biology in 1978, joining the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology (ITE) the same year. He spent 30 years with ITE, latterly the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), as a plant ecologist working on a wide variety of projects including long term studies on the impacts of large herbivores on plant diversity and vigour in montane, forest and open range habitats. After the closure of CEH Banchory he worked as a technical and operations assistant for a weather forecasting company providing services to the offshore and shipping sectors, before joining NRP.