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Consultants accused of ducking responsibility

NEWS

A LEADING property developer this week slammed consultants for ignoring their clients' needs and not accepting responsibility for their recommendations.

Speaking to an audience of environmental engineers at a risk management seminar in London, Asda Properties commercial manager Kevin Deady said: 'We have to make £100M investments on a site with practically no information, and we need your help.

'There has been a massive change from green to brownfield sites in the last 10 years, but I have serious concerns about the experience of the bigger consultants.'

Deady made it clear that it was an industry-wide issue and did not single out any individual consultant for criticism.

He suggested clients should turn to smaller consultants.

'Use a medium-sized consultant so you get a dedicated point of contact and don't get the graduate writing the report, ' he said.

'This is what you want - not a presentation team and a glitzy brochure telling you how good they are.'

In the last year Deady has sat on a steering group for construction research body CIRIA to produce a guide for engineers on contaminated land reporting. He currently sits on a CIRIA group producing a client guide for building on brownfield sites.

He used the seminar, organised by environmental risk information services provider Landmark and co-sponsored by the ICE, to urge consultants to pay more heed to what clients need from brownfield site reports, and to carry more of the risk inherent in them.

He cited a site investigation carried out with boreholes. 'This is no good to us. Boreholes cover 3% of the site, so we're still carrying 97% of the risk.'

Consultants who spoke to NCE defended their industry:

'Contaminated land management remains a delicate balance to ensure that the client's requirements and budget are best utilised in the framework of environmental legislation, ' said a spokesman for one leading consultant.

'We feel it is important that major clients have access to a comprehensive approach using qualified personnel.'

Association of Consulting Engineers communications director Andy Walker said:

'There are examples of consultants working in partnership with their clients to develop key performance indicators.

'One of these is client/consultant relationships.

'If someone has had a bad experience, then the question is why did the experience turn out that bad?' he asked. 'It is a question of what is agreed at the outset. In the ACE conditions of engagement the type of engineer and the time that they will be working on the project is clearly stated.

'If this is followed correctly there shouldn't be a problem.'

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