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Letters: where would you build another airport in the North?

Where would you build another airport in the North?


George Green suggests (Letters, 8 September) that a clear contender for regional regeneration would be a major new airport between Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester.

While this may seem an attractive proposition to a Londoner to those of us outside the region the idea is abhorrent.

Firstly, to be more-or-less equally inconvenient for all those great cities, George’s suggested location would probably place the airport either in the Peak District National Park, or around Holmfirth.

Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer the bleating of sheep to the roar of Jumbos, and I suspect that most people, in what remains of this green and pleasant land, would agree.

Secondly, those of us with an eye to the future may believe that facilitating and encouraging additional air traffic will serve little purpose except to speed up the extinction of the human race, and foregoing cheap flights to Spain is a small price to pay for averting, or at least forestalling, that.

Finally, there are already three airports in this region − Manchester, Leeds-Bradford and the ridiculously named Robin Hood near Doncaster. We do not need any more, although reopening the Woodhead Tunnel to passenger rail traffic could help to speed us on our way to Alicante.

So George, if you’d like to campaign for something, focus on issues that protect our environment rather than destroy it, and perhaps talk to us up North before telling us what we need.

  • Paul Hayward (M), Rowan House, 8 Viewlands, Silkstone Common, Barnsley S75 4QP

First may I add my voice to the general feeling of disgust over the ICE’s response to the consultation on HS2.

The submission is not worthy of consideration and can only be construed as “don’t change anything as we need the work and don’t want to delay the project”.

I made a number of fundamental points which concern the lack of strategic thinking, the configuration and the concept of the project. If we are going to build it then it needs to be right and the current project is not.

Secondly can I join George Green in his condemnation of the proposal for another airport in the south east. If those in the North and Midlands don’t have to travel there to get long-haul flights then the capacity problem is solved.

The runway extension at Birmingham will go some way in this direction but Manchester certainly doesn’t need access to a new international airport; it already has one.

  • Peter Styles (M), Kingsbury, Warwickshire,

Superwoman must die

I have been amused and bemused at yet another women debate unfolding for the industry to show just how derisive women can be about their own gender (NCE, 15 September).

The debate always centres on creating equality when in fact there is nothing equal about us. If we were meant to be like men, we would have been created thus.

Yet culturally, we applaud aggressive, workaholic women, whose partners seem to be forever seeking solace elsewhere. Or worse in other cultures suppressed entirely, whose partners do as they please.

Isn’t it time that the debate moved on, we celebrated our differences and worked in unison to create solutions through a balanced approach?

I believe that can only be achieved when you get real women and real men in a boardroom in equal number
and not simply pay lip service by shoe-horning a few of exceptional superwomen in there.

It is the only way to defeat boom and bust in the long term.

  • Abigail Kiernan (M), civil engineer, mother of four, desperate not to have to live up to superwoman expectations to fulfil quotas.

Non-jobs in hard times

We all appreciate that in these straitened times public bodies are under pressure to reform services and merge provision.

I was however curious about the advertisement in NCE (15 September) by Tendring District Council for a “Head of Public Experience”, a role that not only encompassed engineering and highways maintenance but apparently extending to bereavement, horticulture and food as well.

One can only imagine as to where an individual with the required experience may be found. I wonder what hard pressed maintenance departments feel about cuts in funding and what appears to be a “non job” at £67k per annum?

Has reality not yet made it to Essex?

  • Andrew Munro (M), Munro Consulting, 44c High Street, Chippenham, Ely, Cambs CB7 5PR

Another route to membership

Thanks to the work of the Civil Engineering Employers’ Training Group (CEETG) a new ‘pathway’ to ICE membership has been established for the many hundreds, possibly thousands, of senior engineers in responsible positions who, for whatever reason, have not achieved full membership.

Having been through the various ICE committees and finally Council, the new membership guidance note MGN 49 − Experienced Civil Engineer Pathway − was updated at the end of 2010.

The challenge now is to raise awareness that this “pathway” exists and to confirm that those who will assess and review applications will be looking beyond the actual words of the guidance, which have in some cases been causing difficulty.

One criterion for eligibility is to be working in the civil engineering industry. This means civil engineering in its broadest sense, therefore includes building construction.

Another is about overseeing, directing or being responsible for professionally qualified engineers at or above the grade the candidate is applying for.

So for example, a project manager who, whilst not directly supervising professional engineers will no doubt be working with temporary or permanent works designers that will be professionally qualified and will ensure that designs are completed and issued for construction.

The ICE has confirmed that in such cases, an individual more than satisfies this criterion.

It is also apparent from some of the CVs reviewed that a significant number of applicants who might wish to use this pathway would also be eligible for direct entry Fellow.

So do not be put off by the guidance − speak to your local ICE representative and put your applications in.

  • Chris Hughes (M), chair of CEETG,

Why it’s good to talk

Antony Oliver is wrong to be unconvinced of the need for ‘endless dialogue with the public’ when promoting infrastructure (NCE, 15 September).

The evidence, in most developed countries, shows that infrastructure development without a campaign to win the ‘hearts and mind’ of the public is likely to be very difficult.

While it is certainly true that many schemes have been unnecessarily delayed and excessive costs incurred by debate, inquiries and appeals, it would be wrong to conclude that public dialogue is to blame; it is the governance model that is at fault.

Unfortunately too few engineers understand the implications of public dialogue. Many approach it merely as a public consultation exercise and are surprised when the wider population, often lobbied by others, express opposition. Public engagement is multi-faceted and long-term.

Those that understand this issue have mostly honed their skills within the public sector but they are unfortunately reducing in number.

ICE could address this issue through the development of mentoring schemes to ensure that those with a municipal background pass on their skills to those engaged in the front-line of infrastructure development. It would be foolish to allow the knowledge that exists go to waste.

  • Ian Jenkinson, chair and honorary editor, Municipal Engineer,

Medway may have serious tidal potential



I was working my boat on the Medway near the A2 bridge recently, when I noticed the large tidal range on the river.

It is about 5m or so and it occurred to me that an awful lot of energy is required to lift all the moored boats, pontoons etc and then lower them down again.

Could this energy be captured in some way? My little “back of a postage stamp” design and A4 sketch is attached.

The energy is generated in quantum form so clearly a farm of these generators would be needed to smooth out the energy flow. They would be visually intrusive, but probably not as much as wind turbines.

However, they are completely quiet, obviously carbon free, no working parts submerged and have a marvellous working platform for maintenance. All the technology is available, it only needs developing and building!

  • Chris Marshall (M),



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