How excited many of us were when the New Labour government answered our long-held wish and created the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, bringing transport and land-use planning together at last and giving the construction industry a single body to talk to. Alas, as Sir Michael Latham points out (21 January, page 31), this has come to nothing.
Ambitious plans for new building programmes are announced apparently without any proper consideration of their environmental impact and the infrastructure necessary to support them, and responsibility for construction is scattered among what Sir Michael appositely calls a “melange of ministries”.
In the run-up to a general election, his revisit to the idea of a Department of the Built Environment is timely. The Construction Industry Council is of course well-placed to speak up in support of this for the professions, but is it too much to hope that the big guns of construction could also lobby for some such unifying solution to the present damaging disarray? Much could be done in the next few months to promote the idea and to explain the advantages that seem too obvious to those of us involved in the industry, but are evidently unclear to the politicians who depend on it to fulfil their promises.
Sir Andrew Derbyshire, Hatfield