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Step Change: John Cawley

Jonathan Cawley, director of Planning and Cultural Heritage, Snowdonia National Park Authority

My experience is very much of one career-changing decision leading to another. After completing my degree in Newcastle, I stayed in the North-East and worked for Newcastle Airport as an airport planner – an unusual but interesting start to my career. Following this, I followed the more standard local government route, which culminated in my being appointed as planning policy manager at Denbighshire County Council.  Despite five enjoyable years there, I had a nagging ambition in the back of my mind to return to the private sector and take on some new challenges.

This led me to take my first career-changing move when I joined West Coast Energy Ltd as a Planning & Development Manager. This was a great opportunity – with renewable energy interests across the UK. It gave me experience in dealing with large developments at various stages in the development processes, dealing with specialist environmental professionals – landscape architects to noise consultants – and it provided a lot of public inquiry experience. I also got involved in issues that I had not previously considered, such as lobbying and public relations. In the long term the onshore wind industry will become increasingly tough and, in my view at least, a slightly uncertain environment for planners.

This led me to my current role – which is planning director for Snowdonia National Park Authority, which I joined about a year ago. This is a very satisfying role for several reasons – to be able to help shape the environment of such an iconic landscape is a real privilege, not to mention a huge responsibility.

We have a committed team who have really helped me settle in to my new role. It is also very satisfying to work in predominantly Welsh-speaking communities and a work environment that does most of its business through Welsh. I have two young children and you really won’t get a greater motivator than the belief that we are helping shape the National Park’s economy, environment and landscape for future generations to live in, work in and enjoy.




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