On South East TV on 13 March a spokesman from the Institution of Civil Engineers, Michael Norton, commenting on the drought orders in the south east, said “the only way forward is using permeable paving”.
I confess to being somewhat amazed at that statement and would be very interested to know how the wholesale use of permeable paving will in any way prevent the issuing of Drought Orders.
Surely the way forward is to limit the consumer’s reliance on supply from the water companies by installing rain water harvesting kit and recycle the natural resource of rainfall.
It is interesting to note that the new national policy statement, currently out for consultation, does not define “recycling” as the first order of priority. This is surprising as the population at large is urged on to conform to ever increasing recycling targets in respect of domestic refuse etcetera - but not, it seems, in respect of the life giving natural resource of water.
- Keith Oldham (M), email@example.com
Some years ago I worked on a water project in Libya to bring fossil water 1,000km from the desert to the coastal belt.
The water was transported in twin bores, each the size of a London tube tunnel.
If water can be transported on that scale in Libya surely it can be done in the UK?
- Andrew Cross (M),
Airport hub must answer demand
The location for a major hub airport has been debated for decades within the industry. Mike Hodgkinson is right to point (Letters last week) out that the rail-air journey for international passengers is difficult, but that is also true for many domestic passengers and staff.
Any airport designed for only high speed rail access is a nightmare other than for those near a high speed rail station.
I don’t agree that we should develop a major hub airport based on where the majority of British people live. Manchester Airport has had as many runways as Heathrow for many years, so if the demand was there it would already be a major hub.
- Mike King (F) firstname.lastname@example.org
The air freight equation
Mike Hodgkinson raises the question of Heathrow expansion and the necessity of any UK airport expansion being in the south-east rather in the Midlands (Letters last week).
I wonder whether another option has been considered that could increase passenger traffic through Heathrow without a further runway.
At most international airports, and Heathrow is no exception, there are a reasonable proportion of aircraft movements inward/outward related solely to freight-only, in addition to freight carried on passenger aircraft. If this proportion of movements dedicated solely to freight-only is significant then could these be redirected to, say, Birmingham, East Midlands or Manchester.
After all much of this freight is likely end up being transported to any number of centralised distribution centres for subsequent delivery to supermarkets.
Such a change would have a number of benefits: free the previous freight-only movements to passenger traffic and thus meet the demands of business; reduced the amount and cost of heavy haulage between Heathrow and the Midlands; increase much needed revenue for the Midlands; and reduce CO2 emissions from haulage, which is another government objective.
- Phil Bennett (F), email@example.com
Confusion over design
I read with much interest the article on the King’s Cross redevelopment (NCE last week). As is frequently found in NCE a single consultant (Arup in this case) seems to have taken responsibility and therefore credit for the design of a project.
Could a representative of Arup confirm who designed and detailed the steelwork connections which would appear to be a vital part of the very complex design? Also can they confirm who designed the cladding panels which adorned NCE’s cover?
Finally, who designed the temporary works of which the article speaks so lovingly?
Being just a humble subcontractor engineer I can tell you that they didn’t design one of the above items and if the degree of information that I received to design my element is anything to go by then I feel sorry for the other parties on the project.
With the above in mind I would like to make a wider point that more and more design is being left to subcontractors and the amount and control of information supplied is getting worse. I have worked on both sides of the fence so to speak, having now worked for a subcontractor supplier for over a year, and I have been surprised at the very relaxed attitude of main consultants on what can be quite critical items.
- CF Shipman (G) firstname.lastname@example.org
Tyne and Wear trams work well
Readers interested in the concept of tram-trains (NCE 8 March) might be surprised to learn they have been working well in the UK for the last 10 years.
The Tyne and Wear Metro, a light rail system, runs over 14km on the national rail network. On this section, the line between Pelaw and Sunderland city centre, Metro’s original light vehicles share a busy line with local and inter-city passenger trains and heavy freight services.
It is true that Tyne and Wear Metro does not operate on public highways, but this is a minor distinction compared to the power supply, signalling and communications challenges to be met in delivering tram-train operation - challenges overcome in north east England a decade ago.
- Brian Wilson (M), head of engineering, Nexus, Newcastle upon Tyne NE3 1XW
Students and the cost of NCE
We would like to clarify the situation regarding student ICE members facing an increase in the cost of subscribing to NCE (News last week).
In 2005 ICE Council decided that students should pay no ICE subscription but that those wishing to receive the magazine should pay for it. Council also decided that the rate charged for NCE to those students should cover the cost to ICE to supply copies of NCE .
Based on these Council guidelines, ICE’s Operations team determines the appropriate rate to be charged.
In 2006, the rate charged to students was £20 and since then there have been a series of small rises to gradually bring the cost to the student in line with the cost to ICE - the most recent rise bringing the cost up £10 per year from £40 to £50 which is just under the direct cost to ICE.
We recognise that students and graduates represent the future of the ICE, we continue to offer students free ICE subscriptions and will continue to do what we can to minimise the costs they face.
- Andy Ruffles, chief executive officer, ICE, 1 Great George Street, London SW1P 3AA