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Airing your views. . .


Forget sustainability. Civil engineers only really want to read about exciting designs and spectacular construction projects.

At least that's what I was told by a reader this week. By all means, do mention the s-word from time to time, but, please, not so prominently and certainly not so often. It is starting to fill you all with too much 'green guilt'.

Well, regardless of whether or not I agree with this notion, I am certainly not about to ignore the views of NCE readers. It is, after all, vital that we constantly listen to your views and pitch the magazine - and the website - content to meet your professional and personal needs and interests.

In fact, as I pointed out to the reader in question, it just so happens that we do actually have an online questionnaire running right now which should help us to understand more about what you like and dislike about NCE.

So, for this reason, I was very happy to hear the comments and more than happy to discuss them. And if you have similar, contrary or different views about NCE's coverage of the profession, then, please, visit www.nceplus. co. uk and let us have them. And if it makes you all feel better, we could try to avoid talking about sustainability in NCE. After all, I certainly don't want to perpetuate anyone's green guilt.

Instead, we could simply talk about the need to provide value for money or help clients nd the right solutions to their problems and needs. And we could talk about ding better solutions rather than simply aiming for cheaper or less elegant ones - nding solutions which don't just solve today's problems but pre-empt potential problems tomorrow.

And we could talk about efficiency, about avoiding waste, about appropriate use of natural resources in design and construction; about the need to improve health safety and welfare on construction sites and about the civil engineer's vital and growing role in the wider development of society.

Does that make you feel better about sustainability? Good. . .

As Tony Blair will no doubt con rm, the trouble with seeking views on an issue is that people usually give you answers that you don't necessarily agree with or want to hear. And there is no real way of knowing whether the responses from any selfselected sample are necessarily representative of the majority.

Take the recent vote on road pricing. While 1.7M signatures on any petition is an impressive number, it is really impossible to judge anything beyond the fact that cars and tax are emotive issues and that Radio 2 listeners and Telegraph readers are easily mobilised.

Will it alter government policy? No - and nor should it.

Hence it was bizarre to hear the ruling in the High Court last week forcing the government to re-run its recent public consultation on energy supply. For no matter where you stand on nuclear power, it is clear that no amount of consultation will change government policy on the issue.

In fact, a Number 10 e-mail poll would be far cheaper and achieve the same result.

So while it is interesting, important and perhaps fun to mobilise engineers into signing a petition this week backing legal protection for the title engineer, don't assume that change will necessarily follow.

But don't be put off. Sign the petitions by all means and visit ww. nceplus. co. uk and tell us what you think. Unlike Tony Blair perhaps, we really are ready and willing to listen.

Antony Oliver is NCE's editor

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