FIERCE LOBBYING by the Institution of Civil Engineers has failed to persuade the Government to fund a design standard for ship to shore walkways.
'It would be an injudicious use of taxpayers' money to fund your proposals now only to find that CIRIA's research suggests an alternative proposal that merits equal consideration,' said the Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions in a letter to ICE technical and engineering director John Plumb.
CIRIA already has a £29,000 commission from DETR to report on existing guidance available to port owners on walkway operation and maintenance, but it is estimated that around £100,000 is needed to produce a standard.
Demands for an extension to the existing BS6349 maritime code to include walkway designs followed the fatal Ramsgate collapse in September 1994. There is currently no specific design code for ship to shore walkways.
DETR added that even if CIRIA specifically recommended drafting a new standard, it may decide a European code would be more suitable.
Plumb said that, while disappointed, he remained optimistic as the DETR had not completely ruled out future funding.
'Design is not part of the CIRIA work. What is needed is an overall comprehensive design guide that brings in everything about walkways in a co-ordinated way,' he said.
The issue was first raised in 1997 by ICE past president David Green during his spell in office. After seven months' delay amid confusion over departmental responsibility, Green had a meeting with Health & Safety minister Angela Eagle last April.
But the meeting, also attended by ICE Director General Roger Dobson, British Standards Institution drafting committee on maritime codes member Donald Evans, and Plumb, broke up inconclusively (NCE 9 April 1998).
Evans, a long-standing campaigner for a new code, reacted strongly to the DETR's decision. 'I am not just disappointed but concerned and alarmed at the decision,' he said.
'Maritime issues are such a low priority that there is virtually no chance of ever getting a European code. Our tactics should be to establish a British standard and then get it adopted.'