European Union red tape is making public sector construction projects more expensive than they need to be, according to the new president of the Institution of Structural Engineers.
John Nolan, chairmen of Birmingham-based structural and civil engineering consultancy Nolan Associates, said he was “appalled” at the waste going on. Taxpayers, he cautioned, were not getting value for money.
Mr Nolan, whose duties as president will see him touring the world visiting ISE branches, said: “As I travel around I am often struck by the convoluted shapes of some of the modern buildings and stadia that I see.
“I admire the great skill of the structural engineers involved solving the problems set for them by the architect, helping them achieve their new masterpiece. Many of these buildings are marvellous additions to our environment and are rightly acclaimed; the new Olympic Velodrome is a great example.
“However, in my opinion, many more are different for the sake of being different and add little except cost to the environment and the project and often compromise the usability of the space within.
“I know of several cases recently where projects have been put into administration because the client couldn’t afford to build them even though the buildings had been almost fully pre let.
“In the end, in the private sector it is the clients’ responsibility to control their projects and they stand or fall by the cost of their schemes, but when it comes to the public sector I believe that we have a responsibility to society to do our best to achieve best value for money.”
Mr Nolan noted that state sector projects in the UK were required to be procured by way of the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU).
He went on: “I may be biased on this subject because we rarely win work this way but it is my opinion that this pre-qualification route has little to do with whether or not the practice has the appropriate skills and experience and much more to do with how skilled it is at filling in pre-qualification forms.