|The Four Editions!|
I first arrived in Oxford Polytechnic (now Oxford Brookes University) in September 1989, and for the first few years I shared an office with ecologist, Peter Morris. I was hired to teach plant physiology, but I soon found myself teaching soils as well. Not long after I arrived, Peter started working on a new Master's course in Environmental Assessment and Management. This was to be a joint course with the Department of Planning, and I remember Peter had lots of meetings with Riki Therivel who was his joint course leader from Planning. In September 1990 the first cohort were recruited, and Peter, Riki and I all taught on the first day (28th September). I was involved in quite a bit of the course in the early days, but specialised in soils. Basically, what students needed to know were the likely impacts of developments on soils and how to mitigate them. The course was a great success. Fairly soon the idea for a textbook arose with chapters from many of those teaching on the course. Naturally, Peter and Riki were the co-editors, and they asked me to write the chapter on “Soils and Geology”. The first edition of “Methods of Environmental Impact Assessment” came out in 1995 (white cover) and my chapter was 18 pages long. The book seemed to fill a niche in the market, and soon there was talk of a second edition. Peter and Riki were keen to give the second edition a more applied feel and asked the authors to recruit some environmental impact assessment practitioners as co-authors. Peter recruited a friend of his, Roy Emberton, to help me with contaminated land issues. I recruited Chris Stapleton, a soils consultant who specialised in the assessment of agricultural land. Chris had taken a Planning course at Brookes including an option with my soils classes, and I asked him to come and teach with me (he still is!). So with such expertise available, I mainly concentrated on the more introductory soils material and on getting the whole chapter into shape, a role that I have continued to play in subsequent editions. The second edition was published in 2001 (blue cover), and the Hodson, Stapleton and Emberton chapter was now quite a lot longer (26 pages) and was entitled “Soils, Geology and Geomorphology.” Time moved on and I left the full-time staff at Oxford Brookes, but I continued to teach an annual soils session in tandem with Chris Stapleton for the Master's course. Chris and I were asked to take part in a third edition of the book. Roy Emberton moved to help Peter Morris with his Ecology chapter, so we needed someone to look after contaminated land issues. Chris found Kevin Hawkins of WSP Environmental, and we went to meet him in Reading. I suggested that Chris should be first author on the third edition, and I settled into the “senior author” position (last), which I felt was appropriate as my main role was one of coordination. In 2009 the third edition (brown cover) came out, including the Stapleton, Hawkins and Hodson chapter on “Soils, Geology and Geomorphology” (34 pages). Chris and I kept going with our annual session and whenever we met we wondered whether there would be a fourth edition. Then in 2015 we had the sad news that Peter Morris had died. I felt that would be the end of any hope for another edition. But Riki Therivel had other ideas and teamed up with Graham Wood in Built Environment to tackle quite an ambitious project. The publisher, Routledge, wanted the fourth edition to be rather different to the previous three. We had always concentrated on the UK and Europe, but now the book was to be international in scope. But no greater length than the third edition! This time Chris and I were joined by Hugh Masters-Williams of Jacobs UK who took on the contaminated land brief. Revising the chapter proved quite a challenge. I set it now in the context of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and managed to include coverage of all the soil types in the world. And so the fourth edition (green cover) now sits on my coffee table. It has a somewhat expanded title: “Methods of Environmental and Social Impact Assessment”. The book is dated 2018 and is dedicated to Peter Morris. Without him there would have been no course and no book. The chapter on “Soils, Land and Geology” by Stapleton, Masters-Williams and Hodson is now 39 pages long, over double the length of my original 1995 effort. I would like to thank my co-authors, Chris, Roy, Kevin and Hugh for their contributions to the project over the years, and our editors Peter, Riki and Graham for their endless patience.
Now let's see. The average time between editions is about seven years. That makes 2024 for the fifth edition. Should just about be functional by then……