A SITE visit to the massive Euromediterranee port regeneration project was just one of the highlights of the European Local Associations Annual Conference (ELAC), held in Marseilles last month.
The 50-strong delegation, which included ICE country representatives from across Europe as well as representatives from Great George Street, enjoyed a variety of technical presentations and site visits in the busy four day schedule, involving some often white-knuckle rides around the region.
Euromediterranee deputy director Pierre Michaux described how the 20 year project will regenerate 310ha of rundown commercial and residential buildings, creating 20,000 jobs by 2015.
A third of the £5bn funding will come from national and regional government, with the rest from private finance. Construction is well under way, with the MajorDunkerque tunnel - to channel traffic beneath the city streets - due to open this summer.
Other technical presentations during included the development of single point moorings by Andrew Newport, structural engineering manager of Single Buoy Moorings and a progress report on the construction of the Millau viaduct by Marc Buonomo, director of Eiffel Construction.
ELAC also offered European members a chance to hear a reprise of ICE President Mark Whitby's presidential address, which he used to attack the way Institution presidents are shackled by convention.
'The Institution is run by paid staff on a path of least resistance, ' said Whitby. 'There is a deliberate ploy to give the president so much to do that he can't do anything.
'I said to the local associations at the start of my year that I have themes, and if you play to them, I will come and visit. If you don't, I won't, ' Whitby continued.
The conference also provided Roger Venables, chairman of the ICE's Environment and Sustainability Board, with a platform to repeat the Brunel Lecture 'Delivering Sustainable Development'.
Sustainable development centres around six main contentions, Venables suggested.
Sustainable development needs an immense contribution from engineers and engineering. Second, it needs engineers to work with the many others involved, well and with an open mind.
Third, the best engineering is sustainable, but fourth, we need to make sustainability the norm.
Fifth, continued Venables, engineers need to take a lead, but can't be dictatorial.
Finally, fuzziness in the definition is no excuse.
To download the Brunel Lecture visit www. ice. org. uk and go the environment and sustainability engineering club.