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From client to environmental consultant: “It’s more dynamic and the deadlines are shorter”

Navigating giant projects is nothing out of the ordinary for project lead and environmental consultant Bent Sømod. He calmly oversees all from large wind farm projects to the Baltic Pipe Line in Lillebælt, Denmark.

In 2025, two new wind farms placed in the waters of the Øresund will produce enough energy to provide the entire city of Copenhagen with electricity. The preparations are in full swing to secure that Copenhagen will be the first capital in the world to be CO2 neutral. And Bent Sømod has his hands firmly on the steering wheel. NIRAS is to assess the environmental impact for each of the two farms before the building of the farms can commence. So a lot is riding on Bent’s critical judgement.

“Wind farms should have the smallest possible impact on the surrounding. That is why we for example investigate what their impact will be on the bird populations at the little island of Saltholm, and the planes that land and take off from Copenhagen Airport,” he says.

This project is just one of the many that Bent has led during his 29-year long career. He has performed all types of functions within green solutions and he knows, that it takes close cooperation between the client and consultant to bring projects to a good end.

Client and porpoises

Bent has amongst others worked with marine biomass for the Danish Centre for Environment and Energy, with infrastructure at COWI and large wind farm projects at Energinet. As project lead at Energinet, which maintains and establishes the general energy infrastructure in Denmark, he had the responsibility to prepare for the Baltic Pipe Line, which is planned to cross from the North Sea west coast at Jutland, over Fyn and Sjælland to cross the Baltic to Poland.

“In a role as client, the big project stretch over many years. This is where I learned that conflict resolution is an essential parts of the process, when the time horizon is long and the budget is big. It is incredibly satisfactory to solve problems that may arise between authorities, consultants and the client. Many times it is not about the process, but about the actual, concrete assessments,” says Bent, who helped solve a conflict about the Baltic Pipe’s effect on the porpoise, a small dolphin, in the Lillebælt waters.

Project lead to the core

Those giant projects were also what drove Bent Sømod to NIRAS. In the consultancy sector, the deadlines for projects are tighter and more dynamic, he points out.

“I am a project lead to my core and I love to be the link between the client and the team.”

Bent Sømod

“That is why I get more satisfaction from working on projects now, because they don’t stretch over ten years, such as I was used to from a client’s perspective,” he says and continues:

“When you start in a new organization, there are many opportunities to professionally develop oneself. And I’m definitely doing just so at NIRAS , where I, amongst others, face new challenges working with the air traffic from Copenhagen Airport for HOFOR’s wind farm project. This horizontal structure with great flexibility and a focus on the needs of the client, make for a dynamic and smooth work flow, which I appreciate very much.”