I was appalled to read the headline 'Geotechnical expert queries Eurocodes' and my picture alongside it, in the latest issue of Ground Engineering (November 2010).
In a piece by Natalie Hardwick on the recent GE Basements and Undergrounds Conference, I am quoted as saying 1) the Eurocodes have "failed to deliver on their promise", 2) "... countries will be reluctant to change existing practice", and 3) I am "looking for answers" (caption to my photo).
This is a highly misleading and sensational piece of 'journalism'. There are numerous errors of fact in the piece: I am NOT chairman of 'Eurocode technical committee ETC10'; ETC10 is NOT surveying engineering bodies in 30 countries; the survey is NOT 'in response to teething problems' with Eurocode 7; Eurocode 7 is NOT intended to be a 'streamlined guide'; national annexes do NOT 'allow for a less rigid application of the Eurocodes'.
I DID say that the national annexes simultaneously represent 'the greatest strength and weakness' of the Eurocode system - however, Ground Engineering clearly is only interested in weakenesses to justify sensational headlines - instead of balanced responsible reporting.
So, let me clear up the mis-statements in Natalie Hardwick's article:
- I am Chairman of CEN TC 250/SC7, the committee responsible for developing Eurocode 7
- The weakness of the national annexes is that they allow variation in design rules between European countries and add complexity to the system
- The strength of the national annexes is that they allow flexibility in application across a highly diverse international industry - a feature that has lead to many countries outside of Europe choosing to adopt the Eurocodes
- All countries in Europe are adopting the Eurocodes and adapting their existing practice. Any reluctance is balanced by the advantages of better inter-country cooperation
- Industry is adapting by producing new and updated guides and handbooks - this is a good thing
- As Chairman of TC250/SC7, I am conducting a survey of both National Standards Bodies and the general public in the UK to find out what improvements can be made to Eurocode 7 in the next version (which will be some 5 years away). We can always improve on what we currently have - a survey is the most democratic means I know to make sure we do this in the right way
So, shame on Ground Engineering for publishing such a trashy article, with no balance, and littered with factual mistakes.