Comment on: Dredging will save more than it costs
Last fortnight Bernard Ingham let loose on climate change and sustainable energy policy, and this week Ian Liddell-Grainger follows suit on the EA and flooding. At the same time NCE Editor Mark Hansford calls for "engineering judgement, not political hysteria" and Ben Mitchell points out that civil engineers must express "passionate views" and "stand up for their beliefs". Cue shock from subscribing civil engineers who do not expect to see politicians openly attacking, with sometimes questionable rhetoric, key civils industry sectors in their own magazine. Perhaps the NCE editorship is trying to subtly point out, via juxtaposition, the gulf between the actual decision makers and the engineers who should be informing them? If this is the case, then fine, but I would rather see NCE making a rather less tacitly critical position. I would expect some active critique of political arguments apparently based in generalities and name-calling. Equally, NCE needs to ask why the civil engeering profession itself has failed, for decades it seems, to position itself as a "voice of reason" at the heart of these issues, rather than waiting on the outside of the debate, looking in and muttering about what a hash economists, politicians and others make of engineering issues, and how little the engineers are paid in comparison, dispite the critical importance of their role to the safe and efficiently delivery of infrastructure projects and to the wider economy.
Is this consolidation / one stop shop phenomenon really such a new trend? The big consultants (Mott MacDonald, Arup,Atkins, Bechtel) have pursued the "massively multidisipilnary" model for decades. More recently, all have made aquisitions and pushed their organic growth to diversify their skills base further. It a reflection of what is happening in many other industries - with flat growth, how else to proceede other than to find new markets? And how else to do this than by diversifying and expanding capability to move forward on as many fronts as possible?