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Words of wisdom


Keynote speakers Andrew Wolstenholme, BAA's construction director, and Friends of the Earth executive director Charles Secrett are set to stimulate and challenge audiences at the Civils 2002 seminar programme.

BAA changed its construction process in order to afford Terminal 5. Now construction director Andrew Wolstenholme has to prove its worth in delivering the $3.5bn scheme.

The airport operator tore up the construction rule book almost a decade ago and introduced partnering deals with framework suppliers to bring down the price of its construction work by at least 30%. Major clients throughout the UK have followed the same route.

But the airport operator had more than just cost savings in mind when it started its revolution. The end game was always Heathrow's Terminal 5.

The company's planners had worked out that if they didn't bring down the price of construction and deliver projects on time and with no claims baggage, then T5 was unaffordable.

With UK Transport Secretary Stephen Byers' go ahead for T5 in November 2001, construction could start before the end of the year. BAA and its suppliers will have to demonstrate that the advances they have made on individual projects can be just as successful on an immense, multifaceted scheme.

BAA is not just erecting a vast terminal structure. It is building a railway connection, digging tunnels, constructing airport roads, car parking, shopping facilities, waste treatment, aircraft stands and liaising with the Highways Agency and London Underground to construct motorway links and a tube extension.

There is no one key parameter to focus on at T5, Wolstenholme says. Cost and programme time are of equal importance. 'The complexity of the project is so interwoven, should you get behind on one area you impose a risk on the whole scheme, ' he says.

Wolstenholme will be the keynote speaker at Civils 2002 on Monday 11 June. He is one of three major figures guaranteed to draw crowds at the event.

Friends of the Earth executive director Charles Secrett will be setting the tone on Wednsday 13 June, challenging the construction industry to take the initiative in delivering environmentally responsible construction and sustainable projects.

'For society to function you need power, transport, industrial infrastructure, housing. The argument isn't about whether construction and engineering are necessary, but what types of projects are realised and how, ' says Secrett.

FoE is pushing a tough sustainability agenda, calling for 90% improvements in efficiency in the next 50 years. A radical overhaul of UK attitudes to design, manufacturing and construction are required, says Secrett. But the knowledge and techniques that industry needs are available, he says.

Secrett will make the case that it is in the best interests of business as well as the environment to change working practices.

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