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Future tense


Your correspondent Pat Toms claims that the ICE's Sustainability Action Plan - Society, Sustainability & Civil Engineering - suggests civil engineers are not responsible for finding answers to problems of future needs (NCE 27 June).

In fact the report argues quite the reverse, that sustainable development cannot be achieved without contributions from civil engineers and colleagues across the technical professions.

The report commits the ICE and its partners in the project to a range of actions to prepare the profession for a full role in shaping the sustainability debate.

In making the criticism Mr Toms takes out of context a section of the report that discusses the UK's land use planning system. Our argument was that the existing system does not provide adequate means for planning approval decisions to be made on the basis of full and transparent assessment of the project's sustainability.

The report suggests that one solution may be to develop Environmental Impact Assessments into a wider Sustainability Impact Assessment. However we acknowledged that a debate would be needed on specific issues such as the geographical boundary to be drawn around a project when assessing its sustainability impact.

I would encourage all members to download the report from the ICE website.

Roger Venables, chairman, ICE Environment & Sustainability Board and Society Sustainability & Civil Engineering Steering Group, Crane Environmental, 12 Cranes Drive, Surbiton, Surrey, KT5 8AU

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