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A lesson to learn in communication

Sir Alan Muir Wood has always emphasised the importance of good communication between designers and constructors on tunnelling projects, particularly those using NATM/SLC methods. Your excellent reporting makes the same point.

The 'health warning' that Sir Alan calls for should not be about contracts, but about communication. Others will, no doubt, write about the details of the engineer's role and how it is reflected in the NEC. I would like to ensure that the remarks attributed to me are understood in the context of communication.

Current construction trends are towards the integrated project team and emphasise the importance of continuity in the flow of information - hence the CDM Regulations and Design and Build projects. The Engineer lived with the project throughout its life; thus he could ensure that information was developed and made available as it was needed. Procurement practice and construction clients are no longer comfortable with the classic Engineer approach - life has moved on. I believe that the HEX remedial work and the project itself was completed using the NEC.

Let us all learn from the HEX failure and recognise that successful projects are executed by project teams and teamwork, not by forms of contract. Manage and communicate - that is my health warning.

Roger Dobson (F), Director General and Secretary, The Institution of Civil Engineers, One Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AA

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