Environmental Control Officers (ECO), their roles and responsibilities

So you have have succefully negotiate the arduos Environmental Assessment and Permitting process for your proposed project and have recieved your Environmental Authorization, License or Permit. The end of the road... Not quite. The next step is to ensure compliance to these Authorisations which means you need an ECO.



Environmental Control Officers, better known as ECO’s serve a very specific role on projects under the ambit of a much larger function. This function is that of Environmental Auditing relating to the parts that make up the term. Environmental Auditing is defined as a process where an organisation is tested against a set of performance indicators, such as the requirements of a water use licence or an environmental authorisation for the construction of a new road. These indicators can take the form of review of documentation, interviewing and questioning of operational personnel, observations to how works are conducted, etc.

During this process, evidence of either conforming or not conforming to the indicators is gathered to form an audit trail that consists of photos, documents, reports, meeting minutes, procedures and the results of other relatable monitoring results..”

This audit trail and portfolio of gathered information, makes it possible to base and assess performance against the performance indicators and in turn enables the auditor to collate the findings and generate an audit report, reflecting on all aspects as considered during the audit undertaking.


The ECO plays a key role in the Environmental Auditing process, as not only must the ECO be very well informed on the specific activity and performance requirements of the project, the ECO must be able to provide in a supporting manner, information requirements in support of an audit trail. The audit trail includes an indication of performance against the performance indicators prior to and during the lifetime of the specific project. An auditor can effectively in the normal scope of an audit, only assesses the day to day running’s of the project as snapshot of current activities. It is of great importance to ensure that when a project requires an ECO, one is appointed (be it an internal or externalised appointment) with a good background in providing such a service and that a specific scope of work is compiled to among all other requirements, ensure that the ECO is able to monitor, gather and retain evidence that could be required as performance indicators.


Should you require a proposal for professionally registered scientists to act as the Environemnmtal Control Officer (ECO) for your proposed development, please do not hesitate to contact Fox Civi & Environmental Engineers (Pty) Ltd. at info@foxeng.co.za.