Crane Environmental News Archive
Jean Venables' Presidential address at the ICE, November 2008
On 4 November 2008, Crane's Chairman Jean Venables became President of the Institution of Civil Engineers – the first woman President in the Institution's in 190-year history.
Jean pledged to use the platform of her presidency to promote debate on key issues such as climate change and risk management, as well as focusing on diversity within the profession.
In her Presidential address, Jean Venables said: "Climate change is widely regarded as the biggest risk and challenge we face today. Action must be taken now if we are to have any hope of meeting our targets in 2050, and investment must continue despite the current financial problems.
"What we are building now is going to dictate what greenhouse gases are emitted from our buildings and infrastructure in the decades to come. We have got to engender the same sense of urgency and importance about climate change that the recent banking crisis has had.
"Engineers have the skills to deliver the solutions to climate change that the country and indeed the entire world needs. It is time to ensure they are placed right at the heart of infrastructure policy decision making, advising the government every step of the way."
Jean, who was awarded an OBE for her services to flood defence, joined the ICE as a student in 1967, became only the 16th female Chartered Member, and is keen to encourage more women into the profession: "The ICE currently has only 8% female membership across all grades, so clearly there is much to be done to get more women into civil engineering. However, the landscape is already changing with 20% of the student and graduate member grades being women.
"And it is not just about women. If we are to truly encourage diversity we must also look at the proportion of ethnic minorities and disabled workers and recruit from the whole pool to get the best talent."
Jean Venables on expert panel at Science Media Briefing
On 22 August 2006, Jean Venables took part in a panel of experts answering questions at a Background Briefing organised by the Science Media Centre.
Just one year after Hurricane Katrina caused devastation in the US, the question is being asked – could this happen in the UK? Severe weather is always a risk in the UK and a rise in sea levels as a result of climate change is likely to increase the risk of flooding world-wide.
The Association of British Insurers and the Government’s own Select Committee have warned that flood defence spending needs to increase by 10% a year to £750 million by 2011 to deal with the heightened flood risk. Yet instead, the current budget for all flood risk management spending – including flood risk warning systems and evacuation planning – has been reduced.
One important lesson to be learned from the disastrous flooding in New Orleans is that investment is needed not just in capital flood defence works, but also in the maintenance and monitoring of existing defences, especially in estuarial areas where subsidence is often a problem.
Furthermore, the UK government must be aware that by increasing the numbers of people living in areas of high flood risk it is also increasing the number of people potentially at risk should a flood event occur. If large-scale housing construction programmes in flood plains are inevitable, then improvements to Building Regulations are needed to ensure sufficient flood resilience of buildings.
Download press release (pdf, 212 Kb).
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Roger Venables joins the 'The Great Energy Debate'
On 8 March 2006, Roger Venables gave a presentation at an event organised by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), the Institution of Mechincial Engineers (IMechE) and the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).
Entitled 'The Great Energy Debate: Are we doing enough to keep the lights on?', the event's aim was to provide an informed view on this question. Experts on energy conservation and the options for future electrical generation explained what is being done and what part the technologies can play in meeting future demand for electrical power.
Roger Venables' talk rephrased the question by asking: "Are we doing enough to turn off the lights we don't need?". His angle on the debate was that far more emphasis needed to be placed on conserving energy than has so far been the case.
Engineers from all sectors of engineering are best-placed to initiate the required shift, and Roger Venables highlighted examples of engineering solutions that help reduce energy consumption without any need for active change in consumer behaviour.
The event was recorded by IET.TV and you can view the presentation online on the IET.TV website. (Requires version 8 or newer of RealPlayer or Windows Media Player.) Note: the IET.TV archive is continually updated. If the clip is not there, use the search function and type in 'Roger Venables'.
The ICE and IMechE London Regions repeated the event at the Institution of Mechnical Engineers and at Brunel University.
Jean Venables elected Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering
We are delighted to announce that Jean Venables has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
As Britain’s national academy for engineering, the Royal Academy brings together the country’s most eminent engineers from all disciplines to promote excellence in the science, art and practice of engineering.
Their strategic priorities are to enhance the UK’s engineering capabilities, to celebrate excellence and inspire the next generation, and to lead debate by guiding informed thinking and influencing public policy.
Election to become a Fellow is therefore one of the highest accolades that professional engineers can bestow upon their colleagues, and Jean is acutely conscious and proud of the honour of her election. She looks forward, as other commitments permit, to playing her part in taking the Academy forward.
Jean Venables appointed Chief Executive
of ADA, the Association of Drainage Authorities
1st January 2006, Jean Venables took up the post of Chief Executive
of the Association of Drainage Authorities (ADA).
Jean took over from David Noble OBE who retired after 18 years
at ADA. The appointment is part-time and with support provided through
her colleagues at Crane's sister company, Venables Consultancy.
is the membership organisation for those involved in water level
management, including Internal Drainage Boards, Environment Agency
Flood Defence Committees, the Northern Ireland Rivers Agency, Local
Authorities, Consultants, Contractors and Suppliers.
nine years until 2003, Jean was Chairman of the Thames Regional
Flood Defence Committee and was a Vice President of the Association
for three years before taking up her new post, so she is familiar
with many of the issues ADA members are facing and brings wide-ranging
experience to the many challenges and opportunities ahead for ADA
and its members.
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Jean Venables becomes succeeding Vice President of the ICE
On 2 November 2005, Jean took up office as succeeding Vice President of the Institution of Civil Engineers. Subject to re-election each year, she will become ICE President in November 2008.
Jean has been actively involved with the Institution for over 30 years. She had been non-succeeding Vice President since 2003, and had previously served on the ICE Council from 1975 to 1978 and again from 1993 to 1996. She leads the Institution's work on Membership, and work related to the Olympics 2012, and contributes significantly to the Institution’s work on Professional Conduct.
In addition, she is a member of the Environment & Sustainability Board and serves as the Institution's representative on the Court of Imperial College. Previously she has been a member of the Disciplinary Board, the Investigating Panel and the Waste Management Working Party on Construction Waste 1999 to 2001. She has also had a long-standing involvement in the Institution's Benevolent Fund, as a member and Vice Chairman of the Fund's Committee of Management and a member of its Investment Advisory Panel.
In 2001, Jean was awarded the Garth Watson Medal for Services to the Institution – to her a most significant award, as she had worked closely with the then ICE Secretary when she was Chairman of the ALGS (the Association of London Graduates and Students).
Having been the first woman ever to be elected to the Smeatonian Society in 2002, Jean will now also be the first woman President of the ICE in the Institution's 187-year history.
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Royal Academy launches Sustainable
Development Principles Guide
new guide, Engineering for Sustainable Development: Guiding Principles,
produced by the Royal Academy of Engineering was launched on 6th
September 2005. The Guide uses case study examples generated by
The Academy's Visiting Professors Scheme and was edited by Roger
Venables, Crane's Managing Director, and Richard Dodds, both Academy
Visiting Professors (more about Roger's Visiting
A pdf version of the Guide can be downloaded from
the links below.
low-res pdf of the Guide (948 Kb).
high-res pdf of the Guide (2.2 Mb).
Thames Estuary 2100
In Spring 2005, Jean was appointed to chair the Expert Panel for the Thames Estuary 2100 Project, which is investigating all the options for flood risk management in the Thames Estuary up to 2100.
The project is a result of an initiative Jean supported in 1999 when Chairman of the Thames Region Flood Defence Committees, together with her fellow chairmen in the Anglian and Southern Regions.
Following the 1953 floods, it had taken 30 years for the Thames Barrier to be operational. It is predicted that the level of protection provided by the Barrier and the downstream walls will drop below the 1-in-1000-year design return period in 2030.
With this in mind, Jean and her colleagues pressed for a proactive approach to looking at future flood defences for the region, which led to the setting up of the Thames Estuary 2100 Project.
Jean is especially pleased to be involved in this project, which is very close to her heart. Her long-standing concern about, and involvement in, Thames flood defences and flood risk management includes having chaired the Thames Region Flood Defence Committee for nine years, from 1994 to 2003.
Visiting Professorship at Queens University
In October 2002, Roger Venables,
Crane's Managing Director, was appointed as the Royal
Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor in Engineering for
Sustainable Development at Queen's
University, Belfast. In 2005, this appointment, originally running
for three years, was extended until
the end of 2008.
His main task is to generate case-study-based
teaching materials and assist staff to better understand their
sustainability agenda, enabling them to teach their specialism
in the context of sustainable development.
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Jean receives OBE for services
to flood defence
Chairman Jean Venables was awarded an OBE for services to flood defence in the New Year
Honours List 2004.
almost 20 years, Jean has been a member of the Environment Agency's
Thames Region's Flood Defence Committee and was Chairman for nine years
until July 2003. She was the first engineer, and the first woman,
to be appointed by Government as a flood defence committee Chairman.
of Jean's major achievements during her work as flood defence
Chairman was to oversee the successful completion of the Jubilee
River flood alleviation scheme in 2002.
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Working with Wildlife Resource & Training Pack
In December 2003 Crane completed work on a resource
& training pack for CIRIA, entitled 'Working with Wildlife'.
It is aimed at enabling training of anyone involved in construction
projects to understand and deal properly with wildlife issues
on their project.
The pack was published by CIRIA in 2004. In addition
to a training guide addressing the fundamentals of ecology, key
legislation and practical guidance, it contains extensive supporting
materials, including a PowerPoint presentation, habitat and species
briefing sheets, toolbox talk sheets, a pocket book and a gazetteer
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Venables receives Fellowship of City & Guilds of London Institute
In May 2003, Jean Venables, Chairman of Crane Environmental,
was presented with her Diploma of Fellowship of the City
& Guilds of London Institute at a ceremony at the Institute
in the City of London. An Associate of the Institute through her
undergraduate study at Imperial College, Jean's election to fellowship
recognised her long-term interest and work in vocational education
Jean delivers the Dugald Clerk Lecture at
In February 2003 Jean Venables delivered the
Dugald Clerk Lecture at the Institution of Civil Engineers,
speaking on "The Thames Estuary Yesterday, Today
The lecture included coverage of how the present
situation has developed, the current flood defence provision,
and the flood risk management options for the future.
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Brunel International Lecture Series 2001/02
2001 and 2002, Crane's Managing Director Roger Venables delivered
the Institution of Civil Engineers' annual Brunel Lecture at venues
in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, South
Africa and France, and at the ICE in London.
lecture was entitled "Delivering Sustainable Development
in Construction" and its key message was that, despite
the challenges that the concept of sustainable development presents
to us, there is no longer any excuse for doing nothing about making
development projects more sustainable.
We know enough about the
practical actions to take (many of which are illustrated and discussed
in the lecture) to make a difference now.
can download a text summary or PowerPoint slides (without the
here to download a summary of the lecture as Word file
here to download the PowerPoint slides of the lecture
you would like a full version of the PowerPoint presentation,
including images, please contact Crane
Environmental and we will be happy to send you a copy on CD.
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Venables receives ICE Medal
pleasure for all the team at Crane was the award in November 2001
to Jean Venables of the Garth Watson Medal by the Institution of
Civil Engineers, for her long and unstinting service to the ICE.
a member of the Institution's (Complaints) Investigating Panel,
Jean has completed a three-year term on the ICE's Waste Management
Board, which included her chairing a joint Working party of the
ICE and the Institute of Waste Management, on Construction and Demolition
looks forward to continuing her ICE involvement in a range of ways.
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