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Flood defence


The headline Engineer shortages delay urgent flood work (NCE 15 November) and the associated caption 'Another winter of flood chaos awaits unless resources are found', do not reflect reality.

While there may be a general shortage of engineering graduates, this may not apply to the flood and coastal defence industry. The ICE Commission into flooding received conflicting evidence from the Environment Agency on its available skills.

The Agency may lack skills in modelling - an important aspect of flood warning - but in relation to flood defence projects there is a wealth of experience and expertise, mainly with consultants. Last year the Agency decided that all capital projects would be undertaken by four framework consultants. This has left a large number of engineers with specific local knowledge and expertise working on projects for other clients at home or overseas.

This came at a time when the government has made more money available and flooding is being experienced on a scale not seen for many years.

There must always be succession planning but let us ensure that we make full use of the resources available to us today and not sit back and wring our hands in desperation as flood waters rise.

John Ash (M), technical director, Risk & Policy Analysts Ltd, john@rpaltd. demon. co. uk

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