Those of us who know Heathrow Airport and the surrounding (very pleasant) countryside of Surrey and Berkshire can confirm that even more air traffic associated with an additional runway, as is presently being considered by the government, is difficult to justify from an environmental or public safety standpoint. To make matters worse, after runway No. 3 there are plans for No. 4!

Whatever arguments there are in favour of increasing still further the volume of air traffic at Heathrow there are even more convincing arguments in favour of a new brownfield or reclaimed land site bordering the Thames. In the 1990’s British Engineers Mott MacDonald made a resounding success of a similar scheme known as Chek Lap Kok Airport which involved reclaiming land from the sea in Hong Kong . Repeating this successful Engineering project armed with the knowledge gained from that project would make the Thames Project a straightforward, economical and longer life solution to the problem of our Capital’s need for increased airport capacity. The Thames location is close to the City requiring a relatively easy extension of the Cross-rail underground transit line to make rapid communication relatively easily. The benefits of a construction site free of onerous planning restrictions and an eastward flight path away from the major centres of population would make for safer air traffic control and a speedy construction program which could rival the six year construction process achieved at Hong Kong.

Good luck Boris! Let’s hope common sense prevails.

1980’s Education Secretary Kenneth Baker reports today that half of the Nations’stock of 386 colleges of further education tasked to educate those people inclined towards the Engineering profession are under achieving.

Mr Baker’s solution to the problem is to create a new University Technical College title presumably offering 2 year “degrees” with the aim of increasing the number of Engineers in the jobs market and thereby solving the shortage of Engineers. Two questions should be asked before improving these failing colleges. Is the quality of the college graduates who leave to go into industry ever considered?   More importantly, why do so many Red brick University qualified Engineers each year abandon their academic qualification upon graduating and re-train for other professions? Rather than pump limited resources into failing colleges surely we need to address these basic issues. If the UK had not been haemorrhaging Engineering graduates at such a serious rate since the 1980’s we would have no shortage in the profession today. In summary, do we prefer to retain our existing University educated young Engineers or to replace them with ever more numbers of youngsters and mature candidates of a lower academic standard? Solution: Improve salaries and return to scale fees (see Blog October 2012).