More than 50 people killed and hundreds more injured, traumatised or grieving.
Against that backdrop, any comments on the implications of the 7 July bombs for construction runs the risk of appearing shallow. But there clearly are some implications and it’s important to be clear-sighted about the risks that confront the industry.
A quarter of a century of IRA bombs and the 9/11 attacks have ensured that security is firmly on the industry’s agenda, both in the ways that buildings are designed and constructed. The events of 9/11 forced structural and fire codes to be rewritten, for example, and the omnipresent terrorist threat at high risk sites such as Heathrow Terminal 5 has lead to retinal scans at site entrances and tight control over the delivery of materials on and off site. That terrorists could plant explosive devices in, say, pipes and then transport them onto high-profile sites has to be seen as a possibility that requires precautions.
The World Trade Centre attacks had another obvious effect on construction – it slowed the economy. Projects in the tourism and hospitality sectors were frozen or cancelled practically the next day, which is not the case in the aftermath of the London bombings. These bombs were of course on the Tube and a bus, and so there is no urgent identifiable threat to building security, beyond the obvious. The implications for the London Underground are more immediate (see page 9).
When there has been no major terrorist incident in London for nine years, guards can slip. This is a horrific reminder of the need to maintain and ensure the security arrangements and processes that many firms have in place are strictly adhered to, whether as builders, project managers or employers. Construction firms, affected by last week’s terrorist attack, have quietly and defiantly gone back to work. It is the only way. But let’s be on guard.
Denise Chevin, editor
Let’s be clear about this …
“The first lesson is that clients need to organise themselves for the task ahead, and demonstrate a sense of leadership and purpose, faith and commitment. In short, to act as champions for the project. The second lesson is that the right people need to be put in place to deliver the dream, with their roles clearly defined. The third lesson is that there needs to be clarity as to the objective, communicated through a fully developed, clear and deliverable brief.” These wise words were written by Paul Morrell, a partner at consultant Davis Langdon, in Building in September last year. He was talking about the lessons of the Holyrood fiasco, on which Davis Langdon was QS. As the industry and government contemplates the wonderful, though potentially daunting, task of delivering the Olympics, these lessons need to be studied and digested. As Stanhope’s Peter Roger echoes on page 26: “Success will come down to the clarity of the brief, good leadership and clear ownership. We need absolutely clarity about who’s in charge and who’s heading this.”