Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Engineering Solutions

Foresight The week ahead

If you know of events, exhibitions, books, programmes or websites that ought to be included in Foresight, contact Karl Thompson, tel (020) 7505 6682, e-mail karl. thompson@ construct. emap. com

29 JULY, BBC RADIO 4 Adam Hart-Davis celebrates the achievements of today's civil engineers and their projects in a new series starting next week on Radio 4. Ahead of the show, Karl Thompson spoke to an enthusiastic champion of science and engineering.

As a boy who 'made lots of things with string and pulleys to open trap doors and 'stuff ', ' Adam HartDavis, chemist by trade, just loves the inventiveness of engineers and the passion that drives them. And it shows in his new Radio 4 series.

'I got involved a lot with the engineers and really enjoyed and admired what they were doing, ' he says.

Speaking to Foresight on the journey home from filming a TV series, Hart-Davis has some very definite ideas about Britain's transport system.

'I'd love it if John Prescott had actually meant it when he said were going to have an integrated transport system, ' said Hart-Davis referring to the then transport and environment secretary's Integrated Transport white paper.

'The real problem is that for the last 50 years the government has been convincing people to buy cars. They say that the car gives you freedom and so they built lots of roads and car parks, not wanting to antagonise motorists.'

Hart-Davis certainly shows his commitment to public transport.

He is travelling by train, hasn't owned a car in 10 years and has seven bicycles - one for every day of the week (sorry, you'll have to see his website for full a explanation on that one).

'If I were God I'd quadruple the price of petrol. I know there would be terrible protests from people living in the country and those delivering goods, but maybe people out in the country should get more money from the government.'

A little Utopian? Well, when did a great engineer ever say: 'Ooh, that sounds a bit radical, why don't we see how it all pans out before we do anything about it'?

Amid the bold plans, Hart-Davis sees the value in further reducing speed limits in residential areas, and more congestion charging and road tolls.

'Take Bristol for example. I'd like to see a system that would allow traffic to drive in from the north, south, east and west but not be able to drive right the way through. That would stop most of the traffic and make people use a perfectly adequate ring road.'

What a great idea.

On the question of the skills shortage, Hart-Davis gets straight to the point.

'The perception is that engineering's dirty and dangerous, ' he says. 'The government tends to concentrate on service industries. Last year they appointed 88,000 people in education, but only 14,000 as teachers - what are the rest doing?

'I'd have loved to have taken part in the BBC's 100 Greatest Britons series and champion Brunel among others. Sadly I didn't have the time. I live in the West Country, travel on the Great Western Railway, see the Clifton Suspension Bridge and love the Tamar Bridge.'

Massive thanks go to programme producer Sarah Taylor who, from reading her husband's copy of NCE - always kept for some reason in the loo - put the programme together. Adam HartDavis is a member of the British Toilet Association. There's a certain circularity to it all, readers, don't you think? As for Sarah's other half, Michael: I hope you're not where I think you are. NCE is watching.

Channel Tunnel Rail Link 29 July, 9am and 9.30pm Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth 5 August, 9am and 9.30pm Terminal 5, Heathrow 12 August, 9am and 9.30pm Newport Bridge 19 August, 9am and 9.30pm Scroby Sands off Shore wind farm , Great Yarmouth 26 August, 9am and 9.30pm

Mr Hart-Davis' website is: www. adam-hart-davis. org

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.