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Letters: Low profile, high value water grid is as vital as high speed rail

Low profile, high value water grid is as vital as high speed rail

There has been a great deal of focus recently on infrastructure, much following the debate on High Speed 2 (HS2) connecting London to the North through leafy Buckinghamshire saving but a few minutes and at a cost of many billions of pounds.

For much longer there has been the idea of another form of infrastructure − a water distribution network aimed principally at supplying the drier south and east from the wetter north and west.

The recent declaration of drought conditions in areas of the south and east, with drastic effect on agriculture in particular, brought this idea back to mind. Surely this is a much better investment.

A water grid, hidden from view, has never got off the ground but then it is nowhere nearly as “sexy” or politically appealing as a Ferrari style train set.

It would of course provide major business for civil engineering and establish control over vital water resources, a national priority even without the effects of climate change.

There is another aspect of controlling water which would be a sound long term investment, namely flood defence.

  • Jim Barrack (M),

Civil and military engineers

Unlike some of your recent contributors, I write to express my wholehearted support for the appointment of another military director general of the ICE.

Was the ICE not born of the civilian application of military engineering? Are military engineers not therefore the professional forebears of civil engineers?

I sincerely hope that the appointment will bring about long term closer ties between civil and military engineers, for we undoubtedly have much to learn from and share with each other, not only in terms of technical capabilities but also in organisation and leadership techniques.

  • Andy Brown (M), 75 Eamont Gardens, Hartlepool TS26 9JE

Hijacking engineers’ jobs

Further to the two excellent letters in “The Main Point” (Letters last week) there is a clear indication in the latest careers section as to how our profession is losing its way in the construction industry.

There is a half-page advertisement from a major professional services organisation seeking commercial managers, contract managers, design managers, estimators, planners, programme managers, project managers and risk managers. Each one of these categories used to be filled by civil engineers working for either consultants or contractors.

Unfortunately the construction industry has allowed itself to be overtaken by other bodies such as quantity surveyors and architects to the detriment of civil engineers.

They have taken the opportunities left through the laissez-faire attitude of civil engineers.

Civil engineering projects should be led by consultants and contractors with architects and quantity surveyors being called on to provide specialist services as needed.

We should not be led by these other bodies.

  • Derek Godfrey (F), Clover Cottage, Hughenden Valley, Bucks

What a waste of money

Is it really true that “tens of billions of pounds” are wasted because of inaccuracies in the drawings and details in your feature on building information modelling (NCE 9 June).

I know that as I am long retired, I am totally out of touch with today’s methods and techniques and that draughts-men and women, tracers, drawing boards, linen negatives, prints are things of the past.

But, I was involved in major projects, I did attend design meetings with demanding clients, architects, other technical experts from other disciplines. Far be it for me to say that slip ups never happened, but “tens of billions of pounds” − unbelievable!

  • Royston Foot (M),

We are the ICE

The ICE says Nick Baveystock will have an externally facing role and will engage with members (NCE 9 June).

When will Great George Street acknowledge that the membership is the Institution? As a former regional honorary secretary and chairman, this was a constant irritation to me. It seems little has changed.

  • Stewart Barton,

Apathy is the enemy

The Council elections are in progress and the Membership Satisfaction Survey (MSS) results are out: these two items provide the opportunity for members to express their views on the ICE and the future setting of policy.

Members were least satisfied with the ICE raising the profile of civil engineers. To me the ICE consists of its members so it appears that we are not satisfied with our own performance.

As less than 10% of members responded to the MSS and only about one in seven of us vote in the Council elections we should first look in the mirror.

In wanting better public recognition for civil engineers should we not first be setting an example by voting in the Council elections; responding to the MSS and supporting our local branches by attending meetings? I know we are very busy people but we need to set an example.

Once we are active within the ICE we can use that as an example to those we want to impress outside the ICE. Please get involved in the ICE; the first step being to vote.

  • Adrian Maynard (M), Council Candidate for the East Midlands,

Experience can be valuable

I believe Bruce Latimer (NCE 9 June) is quite wrong in his over-emphasis of academic qualifications against experience, as is shown by the letter from Steve Burstow.

Chartered membership of the ICE and indeed of any institution is conferred by senior professionals after proper
assessment of the candidate.

This assessment takes into account academic qualifications and practical experience. To use his analogy − would he expect his dentist, doctor, lawyer or pharmacist to be fully practising unsupervised, directly after leaving university?

Of course not, because experience is just as vital as any academic achievements. After all, extracting teeth, like civil engineering, is a very practical operation!

The great Victorian Engineers − Telford, Brunel, Stevenson, Bazalgette − were all practical men who, for the most part, carried out their research and academic learning while designing and supervising works which still survive and which are equivalent to the multi-million pound projects of today.

Any fair-minded Fellow or Member of this Institution would support the President’s arguments for the retention of non-graduate routes to chartered membership.

  • Daniel Munday (M),

Hats off to TT team of civil engineer bikers

As you may know Gary Johnson of East Coast Construction won the Monster Energy Supersport Race at the Isle of Man TT this week.

When interviewed on television about his first ever TT win, he was asked “how does it feel to be here in the winners enclosure, surrounded by two big factory teams?”. His response was “yeah, not bad for a load of civil engineers, putting the bike together in a shed”.

Nice one Gary − makes you proud to be a civil engineer!

  • Simon Butt (M),

Letters to the editor

NCE welcomes letters from readers.

We attempt to print as many as possible, which means letters longer than 200 words are likely to be condensed.

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