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Top engineer criticises environmental policy

GOVERNMENT IS ignoring engineering expertise at its peril as it develops environmental policy, a leading engineer and academic warned this week.

Peter Guthrie, leader of Cambridge University's MSc in environmental engineering & sustainable development, also condemned Prime Minister Tony Blair's decision to put Sir John Birt in charge of an investigation into the UK's railways as misguided.

Guthrie, director of environment and sustainability at consulting engineer Scott Wilson, questioned what insight on rail transport former BBC director general Birt would be able to bring to the government.

He also raised doubt over the value of the government's Sustainable Development Commission, set up in 2000 and headed by green guru Jonathan Porritt.

The commission does not have a single engineer on its board, he said.

He added that this presents a 'huge gap in understanding' that will make it difficult for the commission and government to properly address issues ranging from transport, through urban development, to waste management.

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