Comment on: Airports set out revised expansion plans
It could be considered that locating critical infrastructure such as Gatwick Airport on land identified by the EA as at high risk of flooding is questionable. Any suggestion of another runway would need a comprehensive reform of the airports existing flood strategy and a serious investment in sustainable drainage infrastructure. David McMillan non-executive Director of Gatwick Airport Limited states in his report that "actual flooding was significantly more severe than expectations based on flood modelling work. This work should be redone urgently". He stated that "due to heavy rainfall" flood warnings from the EA were not "not seen or acted upon". He also states that "The surface water drainage system is designed to ensure no flooding in airside areas from rainfall delivered by a 1 in 5 year storm." Such systems would not comply even to the building regulations for a domestic dwelling. However, the weather records indicate that rainfalls at Gatwick were far from exceptional, with only 19mm on the 24 Dec 2014. Gatwick Airport's climate change adaption report sums the major flooding and infrastructure problem up as "flooding and water management were identified as the biggest risks to our business". That's certainly correct.
The Government needs to redirect spending from expensive EA schemes in to smaller local community led projects, where greater flood reduction value can be achieved, even with lower budgets. Those EA engineers who have valuable engineering skills could then find even more rewarding opportunities in helping to deliver these sustainability projects with small local private consultants. A massive cut in spending to the EA could transform the industry for the better.
Comment on: Why are engineers too boring for TV?
I was interviewed by the BBC just this week, after they read articles I wrote for my website. http://www.wilsham.co.uk Civil Engineers are not engaging enough with the press. They are gagged by HR and legal into staying absolutely nothing of meaning. Once you get right to the top of many engineering consultants, the CEOs are not qualified engineers at all and therefore find it difficult to provide sensible informed opinion.
It is not that Civil Engineers or the work is boring, it is the constant corporate pressure from HR and legal departments on Engineers to not give their views or risk upsetting possible clients. Since I created my own leading independent civil engineering consultancy, I have had the press contact me to discuss the engineering topics of the day. They read about the projects I put on my company website (www.wilsham.co.uk) and want to find out more. In fact, my website is listed by Google as one of the top 10 in the UK for "civil engineering consultants", in under 2 years and with a marking budget of zero. What does that say about large civil engineering consultants? Just this week I was interviewed by the BBC on the flooding at Gatwick and Oxford. During the coverage, I did see ICE members give opinion, but it was bland and meaningless. Engineers must be free to give their real opinion. Some may not agree with it and some will not. That is healthy debate. Only by standing up for our views will we be respected.
Given we (at Wilsham Consulting Ltd - www.wilsham.co.uk) have decades of designing leading sustainable drainage solutions, we can't wait for the SABs to come in fully. Hopefully this should raise standards across the field.