Tuesday, May 12, 2009

why is the new chairman of the Natural Environmental Research Council a Chartered Engineer?


The CEO of NERC, the distinguished meteorologist Prof Alan Thorpe, commented that:
"I am sure that Ed Wallis will continue the excellent leadership provided over the past five years by our outgoing Chairman, Rob Margetts. Ed's business acumen and extensive experience will be a great asset to NERC."
Really, Alan? Will it really? Because, as an environmental scientist, I'm fucking irate to see the government appointing some corporate whore, with no environmental research experience- or any research experience whatsoever- to "lead" the allocation of funding to environmental research. The same field of research which frequently reveals how utterly unsustainable and damaging much of the government's policy on the environment and on energy actually is. The same research, in effect, which is a direct threat to the profitability and state subsidy of the industry within which he has developed an entire career. How, exactly, is this little gobshite's business acumen going to be of value to environmental research. Can someone please tell me? I can't quite see it myself.

Let's go over Ed's resume, shall we? (A synopsis of which is generously provided on the NERC website).
Ed Wallis is a chartered engineer. He is currently Chairman of WS Atkins, Consulting Engineers. He was the founding Chief Executive of Powergen plc, following the privatisation of the electricity supply industry, and remained with the organisation for 15 years until retiring as Chairman in 2003. Prior to this he had more than 30 years of experience working for the Central Electricity Generating Board. He has gained a wide range of other Board level experience including the Chairmanship of Lucas Varity and London Underground. He was a member of both the Aston University Council and the Henley Management College Court of Governors from 1992 to 1998. In 1997 he became a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
Now, whilst I see the need for appointees to High Office to exhibit some management experience, I also see it is being infinitely more important that they have experience of the subject area they will be working within. Ed Wallis is not experienced in environmental research and is a disastrous character to be placed in charge of directing environmental research in this country and in any country. Even more important, I think it is utterly essential that a political appointee (that's what this is, yes?) does not have a vested interest in an industry that might be influenced by the results of the research they are also meant to oversee the funding of. In case you think that that accusation is hyperbole, let me just reaffirm that Ed Wallis is currently the chairman of WS Atkins:
"Atkins is the largest engineering consultancy in the UK,­ the largest multi-disciplinary consultancy in Europe, the largest UK engineering consultancy in the Middle East and the world's eighth largest global design firm. Atkins is also the highest fee earner in the league of UK engineering consultancies for the past nine years."
So, Ed Wallis, can you explain how your position as Chairman of NERC does not, in any way represent a conflict of interest with your chair of Atkins? Because it looks to me that a company that is "the UK's largest provider of highway and transport solutions" should have some sort of interest in obstructing research that will produce evidence showing that those "solutions" are in fact a threat to our way of life. Oh- and while you're struggling to answer that one, can you observe how your responsibilities as a director under corporate benefit legislation do not require you to act to obstruct the funding of any research which might threaten the profitability of Atkins' business model?

Subject material derived from George's latest article. George rules.


  1. IIRC most of Atkins' UK transport work is public rather than road, so if anything he's got an interest in rigging the research in the right direction. Not that this invalidates the wider conflict of interest of course.

  2. Then there's this: "He was the founding Chief Executive of Powergen plc".

    My bet is that the revolving door is gonna spit him straight back out into a directorship at Powergen, EOn's bitch. Not much conflict there then. No.


Feel free to share your opinions of my opinions. Oh- and cocking fuckmouse.