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Still the biggest story

Comment

Last week will stay in our memories for some time. The joy of London's 2012 Olympic bid victory followed by the horror of the worst terror atrocity ever seen in the UK was emotionally sapping.

The bombs were a direct attack on London's bustling morning commuter life. Yet they exposed precisely the strength and diversity referred to by Sebastian Coe and his Olympic bid team as they argued for London's right to host the 2012 Games.

Public transport in London is just that - for the public. Unlike many cities, London's transport system really is used by everybody - young, old, male, female, rich, poor, white, black, Christian, Muslim, local, visitor, worker, tourist.

It is the ultimate soft target and the result was predictably devastating for everyone caught by the attacks.

In particular NCE's houghts are with the family and friends of Stan Brewster, senior project engineer at Derbyshire County Council. He was on his way to our Future of CDM conference last Thursday when the bombers struck. He is still missing.

It is personal stories such as this that emphasise the role that fate plays in everyday life.

If NCE had not organised a conference, he would not have been anywhere near London. If his train had arrived at King's Cross on time he would have been safely at the conference, not on a Tube train.

There will be similar tales for the other victims. The action was designed to defl ate our emotions and disrupt the pattern of our lives. For the unlucky few this aim has been achieved. Yet for the overwhelming majority life goes on and the infrastructure will be rebuilt.

So it is right that despite last week's tragedies, we take a moment to celebrate. The award of the 2012 Olympic Games to London may seem trivial when faced with bomb attack, but we cannot allow ourselves to be defl ected by a mad minority.

The 2012 Olympics really are something for everyone to get excited about. Six months ago it was something of a pipedream.

Now it's a reality and no bomb toting lunatic will change that.

As I said last February in NCE's 2012 supplement, 'No one should underestimate the huge positive impact that hosting a global event will bring to every part of the nation. It will excite and inspire generations to come and leave a legacy of confidence and pride that will drive the UK forward.' Well, bring it on.

Our supplement serves to remind the entire construction industry of the challenge it faces - even without Crossrail. Civil engineers should use this document as a route map for their careers over the next seven years. Terrorism or the threat of it will not stand in the way.

Nor should we allow the terrorists to overshadow the outcome of last week's G8 meeting.

As predicted, Africa got centre stage as what could be done was done; and while poverty will not end tomorrow, an extra £25bn a year plus debt write off is certainly a start.

My fears that climate change would be too steep a path for the G8 appear to have been realised.

But we must take heart that the world leaders left Gleneagles with an acceptance that there is a (man-made) global warming problem - even if they did not accept there was any need to take action in the foreseeable future.

The door at least remains open. I hope that civil engineers continue to push at it. While terrorism and the Olympics will continue to command headlines over the next decade, this must remain the big story.

Antony Oliver is NCE's editor

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