I was appalled at the letter from Ian Elliott (NCE 28 January) in which he sees civil engineers as despoilers of the environment. If we were to follow his line of argument, we would look only at the adverse impact of sewerage schemes and continue to discharge raw sewage into our rivers. It is always true that there is some environmental impact from any human activity but it is part of our job to act as custodians of the environment, seizing any opportunity for improvement. The Aswan Dam, which was featured in the same NCE edition, is a good example of a fully sustainable energy and water resource outweighing the adverse impacts that it undoubtedly had.
We need a positive definition of civil engineering to encourage motivated and intelligent young people to join the profession: those that will never submit to the defeatist view that we can only harm the environment.
Andrew Tetley (F), email@example.com