The proposal by the director general that the government needs a chief engineering adviser (Comment last week) was well made.
This idea was put to the Wilson government in 1975 by ICE president Sir William Harris and to the Thatcher government in 1980 by president George Geddes. Their concern was that the forward planning of infrastructure requirements was poor and particularly that co-operation between government departments was not evident.
Both administrations replied that these aspects were adequately dealt with by the standard procedures.
ICE Council was not convinced and in 1981 set up the infrastructure planning group (IPG) 'to review, establish and recommend infrastructure needs for the UK for the remainder of the century'.
The first report was issued in 1984.
The IPG promoted a number of debates and a second report was issued in 1986. Interest in the topic decreased until the earlier State of the Nation reports started to revive it.
Now the more comprehensive State of the Nation reports are achieving wider political and media impact, the ICE is in a strong position to promote its role in setting out for the nation our infrastructure needs for sustainable economic, environmental and social development. In earlier decades we did not have the rolling programmes and team work that have now been developed at Council level.
This time round we have established the momentum to promote the ideas nationally and with all our members. Even if a chief engineering adviser were to be appointed, the ICE would still have a vital role in publishing the facts and publicity needed to drive the ideas forward.
Peter Cox, ICE president 1980/81, 18 Ranmore Avenue, Croydon, CR0 5QA