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Future challenges need broad view, civils to be told

ICE news

NEXT WEEK'S annual ICE presidential conference 'Engineering for the 21st century' aims to address the future challenges facing the profession.

The next decade will see a boom in housebuilding, brownfield development and new road, rail, ports, and airport projects in the UK. But tougher legislation and environmental and safety issues are exerting new pressures on engineering design and construction.

ICE president Douglas Oakervee warned that engineers needed to understand public attitudes towards development to ensure that vital UK infrastructure is built.

But much of the work ahead could conflict with good sustainable and environmental practice unless engineers start to understand the wider issues surrounding civil engineering projects.

Last month's State of the Nation report highlighted the alarming shortfall of facilities available to deal with waste disposal in the UK. Confusion over how new waste legislation will be applied and adverse public reaction to planning applications were key issues raised in the report.

The conference will continue this debate with a session chaired by ICE waste management board chair Peter Gerstrom. Speakers will address the role of the construction industry as a major waste producer.

ICE past president Professor George Fleming, managing director of environmental consultant Envirocentre, will outline the challenges ahead while research body BRE senior consultant Richard Smith will explain why the construction industry needs to address the problem.

Envirocentre regional manager Brian Murphy will offer the industry toolkit, The Demolition Protocol to help consultants and contractors consider waste minimisation at planning stage.

Getting through the planning process is one of the biggest hurdles for ports projects.

Most recently Associated British Ports spent £45M on the Dibden Bay container port application, only to be refused on environmental grounds last April.

The future of port development will be hotly debated at the conference with English Nature general manager Richard Clarke giving the environmental perspective and UK major Ports Group chairman Steve Cuthbert giving the ports industry view.

Chairing the session will be Halcrow ports and dockyards director Richard Clarke.

Demonstrating that power generation, transport and infrastructure schemes are sustainable is another fundamental part of the planning and design process. Crossrail chief executive Norman Haste will chair a session on sustainable transport where the case for high speed rail will be debated.

The energy sessions will be chaired by ICE energy board chair David Anderson, who will give a presentation on implementing the energy white paper.

Renewable Power Association chief executive Phillip Wolfe will discuss innovation in the renewables market and Adrian Gault, director of strategy development at the Department of Trade & Industry energy strategy unit, will present 'economic instruments for carbon dioxide emission reduction'.

Building new communities to support the rising UK population is another contentious topic which the conference will tackle. Some argue that transport and water resources are already overstretched and new communities will make matters worse.

Housebuilding in many cities will be concentrated along river flood plains which are prone to more frequent flooding as climate change and poor urban drainage take their toll.

Nick Reynard, head of risk analysis at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, will give the current view on climate change and its impact on water resources.

Sessions on developing sustainable communities and urban regeneration will cover these issues, chaired by ICE municipal board vice chair Douglas Pigg and ICE environment and sustainability board chair John Ekins.

Jean Venables, chair of environmental consultant Crane Environmental, will give a presentation on building on flood plains, followed by presentations on the effect of climate change on coastlines and railway infrastructure.

Arup director Duncan Nicholson will also speak on the application of ground heat storage for buildings in the Thames Gateway.

Other sessions at the conference include the business case for occupational health in construction chaired by ICE health and safety board chair Liz Bennett.

Herriot-Watt university professor of civil engineering systems Paul Jowitt will also report on 'Engineering without frontiers', a commission set up to examine how engineers can help deliver the United Nations development goals.

'This conference has been designed to encourage representatives from all civil engineering disciplines to come together, share knowledge and exchange ideas in order to maintain excellence across the profession, ' said Oakervee.


The conference runs from 21-24 July at Churchill College Cambridge. One and four day tickets are still available.

Contact Alice Staite (020) 7665 2313.

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