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ICE and BGS join forces

ICE Ground Board is to merge with the British Geotechnical Society to form the British Geotechnical Association, a single unified learned society body for geotechnical engineering. The unified body will be inaugurated in June at the BGS's annual general meeting.

ICE's chief executive Mike Casebourne describes the development as an important step in demonstrating the Institution's intention to widen its horizons to embrace a greater number of specialists involved in the civil engineering profession.

The long talked of merger proposals received the green light last month when British Geotechnical Society members voted overwhelmingly in support of unification.

ICE and British Geotechnical Society committee, under the guidance of a unified body vision group chaired by Professor John Burland, had previously hammered out details of the merger. Under BGS statutes, two thirds of its membership needed to be in support before the proposal could be advanced.

Results of the postal ballot showed 96% of membership to be in favour, with 37% of the membership participating. A total of 474 votes were cast in the postal ballot, with 451 voting yes, 19 no and four spoilt papers.

Membership of the British Geotechnical Association will be open to anybody 'actively interested in any aspect of geotechnical engineering.'

Neil Buchanan, chairman of the ICE Ground Board said 'The success of BGA will depend on participation of everyone in the geotechnical community and in this regard I look to all members of the Institution who are interested in geotechnical matters and who are not already members of the BGS to join BGA and contribute to its future.

'It will be a great opportunity missed if ICE members do not follow the lead of the Institution in reaching out to related special interest groups in the construction industry.

Casebourne adds 'We are delighted BGS members have given ICE a strong vote of confidence and are looking forward to seeing an enrichment of ICE activities through involvement of the full geotechnical community.'

An interim BGA executive committee will comprise Buchanan and Professor Barry Clarke from the Ground Board together with BGS chairman Professor Quentin Leiper and Richard Driscoll also of the present BGS committee. BGS honorary secretary Neil Smith and treasurer John Talbot will assume responsibilities as the honorary officers of the new body.

Once the full transition to BGA has been achieved, the majority of seats on its eventually 18-strong executive committee will be democratically elected from BGA's membership.

ICE holds two nominations to the executive of which one will come from ICE Council.

The BGA chair and vice chair will be elected by its executive.

Buchanan hopes the merger will be the first step in the whole geotechnical community coming together.

'The geotechnical community has many areas of specialist interest and we should not allow their energy and enthusiasm to be diluted. However there is always weakness and indeed confusion to outside bodies, such as government, if there are several organisations representing one specialist area. We should work closely with others and move forward to speak with one voice, ' he said. (BGS chairman) (Ground Board chairman)

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