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Better status lies in 0resund methods


I write to link three items which featured in NCE 6 July.

First, your coverage of the Heathrow Tunnel collapse, which rightly draws attention to the contribution from inappropriate systems of management.

Second, the opening of the 0resund Link. The most outstanding feature of the project, recognised by all who were associated with it and meriting wide acclaim and publicity, was its overall management.

This was a job by engineers for engineers, many of them British, with not a lawyer, banker or management consultant in sight. The strategic system of procurement was extended through design and construction with the objective of harnessing the skills and resources of all those concerned. It was partnering based on fully competitive tendering.

Under the inspirational leadership of Peter Lundhus, technical director of 0resundskonsortiet, a project comparable in size and complexity to the Channel Tunnel, was completed within time and budget.

Third, discussion continues on the salaries of civil engineers. Of course, these should compare favourably with those of other professions.

However, engineers will get little satisfaction from their work, nor realise their potential, so long as they are engaged in confrontational projects, which:

are fragmented by each element being obtained at least cost (including, for example, engineering provided through 'design contractors') without relation to the others.

have contracts terms dictated by lawyers in the place of experienced engineers.

have isolated groups of engineers 'signing off' when they have supplied 'deliverables'.

Engineers will also continue to be blamed for projects which run out of control in terms of time and money.

By the universal application of the principles of good project management (which is an engineering function) - as demonstrated by the 0resund project and other exceptional projects elsewhere - engineers will regain their esteem from society and their claim to just reward.

The ICE has been remarkably inattentive to the criteria for successful projects over recent years and has made no criticism so far as I am aware of the inept approaches of too many owners, particularly many of the privatised utilities.

Now is the time for our Institution to give a lead if the President's wish for higher salaries is to be more than an aspiration expiring with his presidency.

Sir Alan Muir Wood (F), Franklands Bere Court Road, Pangbourne, Berks RG8 8JY

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