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Letters: Who should pay to insure homes against flooding?

Gloucester 2007 floods

Gloucester 2007 floods

The flood insurance issue has dismayed me since the Association of British Insurers (ABI) first signalled its unwillingness to renew the statement of principles.

The justification for the ABI’s reticence is that people in low risk areas will be subsidising those at higher risk. My take on this is that it reflects the fundamental principles of insurance.

If this approach was taken to its logical conclusion every insurance policy application would involve a wide-ranging risk assessment, which would confuse and frustrate customers, adding considerably to costs.

The ABI suggests government subsidy based on examples in Europe and beyond. The government wants to deal with the problem by “preventing flooding in the first place”, although providing protection to homes at risk will take years at current rates of investment.

Unfortunately the new grant funding mechanism requires financial partnerships with benefiting organisations/individuals to “subsidise” cost benefit scores.

Quite what the competition for highest risk policies that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs envisages would look like I cannot imagine. I suppose there will be a subsidy in there somewhere too.

So it seems if the insurance companies don’t get you the government will.

Who will subsidise whom after summer 2013 I wonder?

  • Howard Glenn (M), howard@dearfloyd.com


Add parallel road to HS2 route

The feature on High Speed 2 (HS2)shows the route extending on the West side of the Pennines in Phase 2 to Manchester and Liverpool..

Would it be appropriate to include a three lane motorway next to the railway for the majority of its route (nevermind a provision for water pipelines)?

This motorway would provide the desperately needed relief for the 20-plus year old problem of under capacity on the existing Birmingham/Manchester M6.

The HS2 extension will no doubt run west of the M6 and the West Coast Main Line to minimise engineering problems and cost.

Classic start and finish points for the new motorway would be the northern end of the Birmingham Western Bypass and the Mersey Gateway Bridge.

  • John Franklin (F), 11 The Ridings, East Horsley, Surrey KT24 5BN


Graduates need more help

I found myself reaching for my copy of 8 March NCE after reading Brian Clancy’s comments (Letters last week). Jonathan Meredith’s comments were clearly of a young man who was embittered by the belief that his undoubted ability is potentially not going to receive the rewards he so hoped for from his chosen profession. Arrogant perhaps, frustrated definitely.

Although Brian’s harsh lesson in humility may be welcomed by some, I wish it also to be noted that others of us are equally rooting for poor Jonathan not to be discouraged and keep trying, however difficult that might prove to be.

However, to believe that academic achievement is the only measure for a good civil engineer and that getting a degree is the only way to achieve a sustainable future is an error in judgement. Graduates are part of the solution but not the answer.

  • Abigail Kiernan (M), abigailodudu@hotmail.com

Boston Manor viaduct lessons

I was interested to read the article about the cracks found in welds on the Boston Manor Viaduct (NCE 4 April). This is not the first occasion on which such cracks have been found.

In 1976 a survey of typical welded joints in a 12 major steel bridges organised by the Department of Transport found weld cracking in four of the bridges examined. One of these was the Boston Manor Viaduct where cracks were found in the welds on cross-girder bearing stiffeners.

The actions taken to identify the cause of the problem and the subsequent remedial work were described in a paper presented to the International Association of Bridge and Structural Engineers’ Colloquium on Fatigue of Steel and Concrete Structures at Lausanne in 1982.

The paper presented by Chatterjee and Dawe was entitled “Fatigue Cracking in Two Steel Bridges”; it may be that it contains information which might be relevant to the present investigation.

  • Peter Dawe (M), peterdawe@ntlworld.com

Hillsborough deaths clarified

I wish to clarify your article on the Hillsborough disaster, part of the “40 Memorable Moments” series. The total number of spectators who died as a result of this tragedy was 96 and not 95 as stated in your report (94 on the day and 2 thereafter).

Should standing areas be brought back to football stadiums as is currently being called for in some quarters, it will be absolutely critical that designers ensure that we do not end up reliving the past.

  • Simon Nesbitt (M), simonnesbitt@hotmail.com

Stakeholder challenge

Ian Greenwood’s call for engineers to rebalance thinking to realise projects leading to lower carbon consumption in the UK by focusing on existing housing stock is sensible.

Indeed, for this and most built environment situations, closer examination reveals many interacting stakeholders and other participants.

For success, all need to be orchestrated to achieve intended outcomes and mitigate the unintended consequences that emerge. But how to formulate such an orchestration challenge, which exhibits complex and “wicked” characteristics?

One approach, is described in an upcoming paper by Meggitt, Sarri and Evans in the May edition of ICEProceedings.

  • David Meggitt (M), davidm@meggittbird.net

Readers' comments (1)

  • The problem with HS2 is that it does not provide any benefit to the people who are affected by it. We dont need another motorway but HS2 needs at least 4 tracks with a local line connecting to HS2 running alongside it. Just like they do in other parts in the world. This would allow the cost to be offset and a more useful piece of infrastructure built. It would appear with HS2 that we have not learnt the lesson of our motorways when taking the land for an additional lane at the time of construction would have saved the UK £billions in road widening costs. If we had the nerve we would be building 6 tracks and preparing for the end of oil when electrified rail powered by nuclear power stations as is the case in France becomes our primary form of transport. HS2 is just the continuation of British failures to invest in real infrastructure.

    Steve Trowbridge (M)

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