BALI offers accreditation to small-scale landscape firms

Smaller landscape firms put off by the cost of meeting National Highways Sector Scheme (NHSS) 18 can still tender for work on trunk roads through a tandem accreditation from the British Association of Landcape Industries (BALI).

The association is running its own scheme - recognised by the Highways Agency - to help get more landscaping contractors on board. BALI technical director Neil Huck urged smaller contractors to make sure they were not excluded from work: "BALI has developed a standard system for smaller companies and specialist people, and we will have that running in tandem under our own vetting procedure." he said. "It will be available to BALI members and non-members."

The NHSS 18 for Landscape and the Environment including Ecology was launched at IoG Saltex in September by Haymarket owner and publisher of Horticulture Week Lord Michael Heseltine to make sure contractors working on trunk roads are of a required standard.

County and district councils are also to implement the scheme on their roads, said Huck, speaking last week at an industry day run by BALI and Lantra at Otley College, near Ipswich.

NHSS 18 is the industry interpretation of quality management system ISO 9001 for the work it covers, and Huck said many smaller firms were put off applying for accreditation because of the cost.

"It's about £6,000 to do ISO 9001, and a lot of smaller firms can't do it," added Huck, who helped develop the scheme with organisations including the Arboricultural Association and Lantra.

"BALI will do a quality check for those smaller firms and make sure they meet the criteria, but it will be considerably less costly."

Work on the Highways Agency's trunk road network will now only be given to companies accredited under the scheme. Huck said the move was partly to rid the industry of cowboy contractors.

"It is a highly skilled and dangerous job," explained Huck. "The scheme is to eliminate contracts being let to the cheapest, but not necessarily the best, contractor.

"We want to remove people who give the industry a bad name."

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