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Hendy urges engineers to tackle politicians

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CIVIL ENGINEERS are failing clients by refusing to come to terms with working in a political environment, Transport for London (TfL) commissioner Peter Hendy warned this week.

'Transport is a political issue and anybody who says otherwise needs to stay down in the engine room with the spanners, ' he said.

'Britain's roads, canals and railways were all built by civil engineers who had to go to Parliament and become adept at arguing for their schemes.

'It is equally true of the role of professionals in public inquiries today. We have controversial schemes and the people who put our schemes forward will have to be as good as the QCs that opponents will hire.'

Hendy was delivering the second Scott Wilson Transport Lecture, one of the ICE's series of Prestige lectures. Later this month TfL is to unveil an ambitious 20-year investment plan for London and Hendy fears that the delivery of this will be held up by planning issues.

'The needs of our schemes are too great to be delayed by endless legal challenges. My heart sinks at the mention of some work on the A406, which has been needed for at least 40 years and won't be starting until 2010 because it might have to go through public inquiry. It is scandalous.' Hendy said he was looking to the forthcoming Eddington report to Chancellor Gordon Brown to tackle this issue.

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