BRITISH Geotechnical Society members have voted overwhelmingly in support of the proposed merger of the society with the ICE Ground Board.
Results of the postal ballot showed 96% in favour, with 37% of the membership participating. A total of 474 votes was cast, with 451 voting yes, 19 no and four spoilt papers.
The vote satisfied BGS statutes which required 20% of the membership to vote, and for two thirds of those voting to be in favour.
The merged body will come into existence following the BGS annual general meeting in June, while finances will be run separately until January 2001. In the meantime a joint committee will be established with six representatives from the Ground Board joining the BGS committee.
An interim executive committee will comprise Neil Buchanan and Barry Clarke from the Ground Board and Quentin Leiper and Richard Driscoll of the present BGS committee. BGS honorary secretary Neil Smith and treasurer John Talbot will assume responsibilities as the honorary officers of the new body.
BGS chairman Quentin Leiper described the ballot as an excellent result.
ICE's chief executive Mike Casebourne commented: 'We are delighted BGS members have given ICE a strong vote of confidence and are looking forward to seeing an enrichment of ICE activities through involvement of the full geotechnical community.'
Membership of the British Geotechnical Association will be open to anybody 'actively interested in any aspect of geotechnical engineering'.
Once the full transition to BGA has been achieved, the majority of seats on its eventually 18-strong executive committee will be democratically elected and committee members need not be ICE members. ICE holds two nominations to the executive of which one will come from ICE Council. The BGA chair and vice chair will be elected by its executive.
Ground Board chairman Neil Buchanan said: 'The success of BGA will depend on the participation of everyone in the geotechnical community and I look to all members of the Institution who are interested in geotechnical matters and who are not already members of BGS to join BGA and contribute to its future.
'It will be a great opportunity missed if ICE members do not follow the lead of the Institution in reaching out to related specialist interest groups of the construction industry.'