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Rules of engagement


I find one aspect of Mark Hansford's report (ICE News last week) of Bernard Gambrill's advice to the ALGS disturbing. Gambrill was surely not wrong to engage public participation early in the options for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

Delaying consultation until your mind is made up risks the justifiable accusation from the public of meaningless involvement in what appears to them to be a fait accompli.

Many years of experience with the early stages of major road schemes on behalf of a county council taught me that inadequate consideration of alternative alignments leads to extensive delays. Engineers frequently have to go back to the drawing board and repeat public consultations when questions are raised which cannot be answered at the initial public exhibition or meeting.

People need to be convinced, as far as possible, that you have done your homework by thoroughly investigating and evaluating all feasible options and are presenting them with all the relevant data so they can give you an informed response.

Response, of course, is not always totally based on a logical assessment of information, but it is something that has to be accepted as unavoidable.

Property blight can be limited by planning your selection process to minimise the period between publication of options and making the decision. It may be that the lack of detail in the preparation of the options caused the problem with CTRL consultations.

JA James (Ret M), 64 Chapel Street, Billericay, Essex CM12 9LS

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