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Letters to the editor

The Editor welcomes letters at 151 Rosebery Avenue, London


fax: (0171) 505 6667

e-mail: nceedit@

and reserves the right to condense.

Public interest

Tom Smith, who says there are no punitive cancellation charges in the Birmingham Northern Relief Road concession (Letters, 2 July), is managing director of Midland Expressway, the company which told the public inquiry that the BNRR could be entirely privately financed.

Since the inquiry, a parliamentary question has revealed that the government is paying £20M towards the section of the BNRR project coincident with the M42. This was not mentioned at the public inquiry, nor was it referred to in previous parliamentary answers or included in either the 1997 Labour Roads Review or the concurrent assessment of the BNRR project, which resulted in the motorway's go ahead.

To justify this anomaly, a distinction has been introduced between BNRR itself and the section of M42 widening needed by MEL to get traffic on to BNRR, which was never made at the inquiry.

To avoid further distinctions being needed to accommodate new information on BNRR, or to explain to objectors what they might already have known, if they'd known they should know it, Midland Expressway and the Government should publish the concession agreement.

Gerald Kells, Friends of the Earth, 55 Follyhouse Lane, Walsall WS1 3EL.

Controlling factor

'Into the danger zone' (NCE 28 May) was an interesting article, particularly regarding remote control trench rollers. It might also be of interest to your readers to learn Wacker introduced both infra red control trench rollers and multi- directional plates in 1987. Radio controlled systems were considered many years ago, but were rejected because of the danger to other workers on the same site. We consider that the operator should always have the machine in sight and if his vision becomes blocked by some obstruction, then the machine should stop. I suppose the ultimate accessory with any machine that will operate under these conditions is a pair of very powerful binoculars.

Regarding the article 'Decent exposure' it might also be of interest to learn that Malling Precast, part of the O'Rourke Group, asked Wacker to design a vibration system which would ensure quality, productivity and reliability. They were only the second factory in the UK to purchase a radio controlled system, which produced a product second to none well within the time scale of the contract.

Brian Randle,

Wacker, Lea Road,

Waltham Cross, Herts EN9 1AW.

Silent witness

J Stansfield (Letters 2 July) speaks for the silent majority when he laments the steady decline in standards that have taken place over the years. The status of civil engineer, that once encouraged many of us to enter the profession, no longer has the respect it once had.

The Institution must take its share of responsibility and ask itself why this is so. A poll among members would be a first step in this direction.

Alan Miles, (M), 86 Kingswood Avenue, Shortlands, Bromley, Kent,BR2 0NP.

Spurred to action

By crikey, it is not very often that I am moved to put pen to paper but J Stansfield got right up my nose and just about sums up what is seen to be wrong with the Institution and some of its members. We professionals are viewed by many as being proud, arrogant and elitist.

Gosh, we are guilty of trying to open up stuffy social events to the many rather than the few by replacing the usual balls with those awfully loud and vulgar discotheques.

Gadzooks, ICE staff are caught enjoying themselves dancing to something other than the Gay Gordons, and, heaven forbid, with steps that are best suited to colonials and spear waving fuzzy wuzzies.

Zounds, it seems like the LA21 process is only distantly connected to those of us who harness the forces of nature etc and is, to boot, politically correct drivel.

What's wrong with designing out crime and managing the highway network if it gives better service? Has the Institution got it wrong again by linking its [our] 'Local agenda 21 - engineering the future' to best value? Best value for whom? Society or self?

RJ Wheat (M), 12 Longford Crescent, Bradway, Sheffield S17 4LL.

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