CONSTRUCTION FIRMS need to form sustainability strategies now or risk losing 'first mover advantage' to overseas competitors, Charles Secrett, executive director of pressure group Friends of the Earth, warned last week.
Delivering a keynote speech at Civils 2002, Secrett said the most successful firms in the future will be those prepared to deliver sustainable solutions.
The UK, he said, had already squandered early advantages gained in the wind energy sector during the 1970s by neglecting research and development. Danish engineers had since been able to steal the lead and the lion's share of the booming wind energy market.
Companies not ready to adapt to the emerging market in sustainability will find themselves facing stiff legislation and heavy financial penalties for bad practice and be left similarly behind, he warned.
The government is under mounting pressure to tighten legislation on land use, soil, water and air pollution, emission of greenhouse gases, water abstraction, quarrying, waste disposal, and noise. Tougher regulations to curb industry's impact on the environment and society will follow, said Secrett.
The need for many new construction schemes should be questioned, he added. Where construction was necessary, engineers will play a crucial role in ensuring that it does not adversely affect the local community.