Another Company that we were involved in founding was ERIS, Environmental Risks Insurance Services. We had been aware for several years of the significant issues associated with brownfield sites, which as these became better known during the 1980’s and 1990’s started to slow, and then raise significant concerns for high value commercial property transactions.
Our MD teamed up with Roy Bays, who had retired from his exceptional career in the UK insurance industry, and a founder, in his own right of the Cork, Bays Fisher Insurance Group, a highly innovative business which developed the first real holiday insurance product.
The new insurance brokerage business established underwriting lines with AIG and Reliance Group, taking one of the first Environmental Impairment Liability policies into the marketplace.
It was an interesting adventure and whilst a number of successful policies were underwritten on behalf of clients during the mid 1990’s, there were insufficient Clients who understood the value of this type of insurance, to facilitate property transactions.
This was in contract to the standard insurance against insurance risks in the marine environment, where specific policies underwritten by Lloyds Open Form had provided an insured contingency fund, for dealing with risks from fire, cargo contamination and oil pollution.
Those were the days, back in 1984 when our Managing Director formed his first consultancy business. Put together in a single one-bed flat in Covent Garden, the business was designed to provide a team of ecological specialists to carry out ecological surveys and wildlife recording in the UK.
In those days, we couldn’t even find a heading for environmental consultants in the telephone directory! However the business initially found premises in Haslemere, Surrey and carried out some interesting projects in the early days, with some interesting formative work for the onshore oil exploration boom at the time, as well as work on the 1st Licensing Round for Offshore Oil Exploration.
The early work the Company developed was very much a case of convincing those engaged in greenfield development that they needed environmental expertise, provided at the outset by two of the founders, who had worked/and are also still working for English Nature (formerly the Nature Conservancy Council).
There were no mandatory requirements for EIAs on major developments at this time, and the novelty of engaging with commercial developers involved us in some interesting television coverage at the time.
The concept was obviously a good one, as Bioscan UK Limited is still running after 28 years…..
In 1991, our senior consultant was asked to form an environmental consultancy business for Central and Provincial Management Ltd (CPM)., a wholly owned subsidiary of the London and Devonshire Trust Ltd.
The environmental business sat alongside CPM’s commercial property management and surveying business formed earlier in 1984. The early venture into the environmental consultancy business was cleverly judged to piggyback on the 2000+ commercial and industrial properties managed by CPM for their Clients.
In 1993, the slump in the UK commercial property market provided an opportunity to carry out a MBO of the fledgling business, hardly two years old. This was incorporated and a new Board brought together a skilled team of NED’s, the Company going on the grow continually over the next decade, providing services in the UK and worldwide in environmental auditing; due diligence; contaminated land assessment; marine oil and chemical pollution and providing the platform from which a number of other ventures were founded.
These included ContamiCheck, later to be become the founding dataset for Groundsure Ltd., ERIS (Environmental Risk Insurance Services Ltd) and insurance brokerage providing Environmental Impairment Liability (EIL) Insurance and the Environmental Data Association.
Key officers of the Company went on to become senior directors in a number of leading environmental consultancy businesses throughout the United Kingdom.
In 2005, a small group of partners were examining how they could exit from the company they were currently employed by and develop their own Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment (WEEE) business, with very low capital.
One of our Directors helped co-ordinate the exit from the former company and provide the corporate set up of the Company from offices in Surrey. The launch of the new business was timed to co-incide with a major international campaign centred around this type of waste, the RSA WEEE Man Project. Coupling the launch with that of the 27,000 membership base of the RSA gave unprecedented access to the media, a resource the new company could not hope to have access to, and was ideal for raising public awareness nationally and internationally.
The Company quickly launched with a tailor-made book of B2B business negotiated as part of the exit agreement and access to the important Operators Licence (for running commercial HGVs) was secured through one parties ‘grandfather rights’, allowing the Company to have livery written vehicles on the road, within a month.
These and over activities meant the company had virtually immediate cash-flow, which successful grants were made to Waste resources Action Programme (WRAP) and further commercial lending secured. Important trading accreditations ISO 9000 and ISO14000 were secured within the first years trading too!