I would like to thank Stephan Jefferis for providing the opportunity to expand upon the background of the Environmental Policy Statements.
Members heavily criticised the Institution in both the membership survey and Presidential Commission for not giving comments to the media.
The original purpose of the statements was for use as guidance to engineers who were talking to the media on behalf of the Institution. Hence the statements have to be evenly balanced and middle of the road. They do, however, provide a basis for comment by anyone speaking on behalf of the ICE, who may not be an expert in that particular field or who may not be sure of the Institution's stance. As such, the statements give the Institution's view and must be adhered to.
During the process of debating the draft statements, many of us within the technical boards felt that the statements warranted wider distribution to members and in particular students and graduates, to both raise awareness of environmental issues and stimulate debate.
It was never the intention to be proscriptive or to set down 'ultimate truths'. The strength of our profession is in our powers of innovation and in solving previously unsolvable problems. We see these statements as a starting point from which they shall evolve, improve and progress as knowledge, technology and methods become more advanced. Therefore, we expect the statements to undergo regular review and updating, so any comments received from the membership can have an effect on the review of these 'living documents'.
There was much debate prior to publication as to whether the statements should be international. For the very reasons that Jefferis points out, we agreed that the statements should reflect the statutory framework and conditions of the UK, but would be available to our international membership for modification to suit local conditions. Every original statement, which can be obtained from Great George Street, has such a footnote.
To specifically address Jefferis's bullet points;
I agree that a framing document explaining the role of the statements is desirable. The ESB was aware of this but we felt it more important to publish the statements as soon as they gained Council approval. Of course any member is allowed to disagree with the statements, and to let me or anyone in the Institution know.
If there is demand for meetings to discuss the form and content, then I am more than happy to help enable this, either at Great George Street or in any local association. As I stated earlier, the statements have a review process and we are keen to listen to all comments in forming an Institution view.
I am encouraged by Jefferis' desire to see the statements as posters holding pride of place. Once again, if this is what you as members want, it shall be done! Please let me know.
And finally, I have checked the Contaminated Land Statement, and the original does refer to 'controlled waters', I can only assume that the gremlins got into the NCE version!
Peter Braithwaite (F), chairman, Environment & Sustainability Board, ICE,1 Great George Street, London SW1P 3AA.