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CIC worried about over-mighty registration board

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The construction industry could urge the government to restrict the activities of the Architects Registration Board, following concerns raised recently by the Construction Industry Council and, over a longer period of time, by the riba.

The Construction Industry Council, which represents the major professional construction industry bodies, has sought a meeting with arb chair Barbara Kelly following complaints from its members. Robin Nicholson, chair of the cic, commenting on the arb forcing the Architects & Surveyors Institute to change its name to the Architecture & Surveying Institute, said, 'No doubt it is going to attack Mo Mowlam for being the 'architect' of the Northern Ireland peace process.'

Nicholson was previously vice-president of the riba responsible for negotiations with government over the setting up of the arb. He told the aj that during these negotiations it was made clear that it would be possible to check with government records if the arb was going beyond the intentions of the legislation.

Paul Hyett, riba vice-president for education, said: 'It's jolly serious if they have rattled the cic. My concern is that the registration board should restrict its activities to conduct and qualifications for entry. It's not an institute that services the cultural debate surrounding the activities of the profession.'

He added: 'In terms of education it is important that the arb works with the riba and doesn't seek to reject the riba. They are now saying that they will work with us.' He was concerned about the cost to the profession of introducing payment for members of validation boards, and that the proposed system of appeal over validations, if not carefully managed, 'could become an incredible circus'.

It was essential, he said, to maintain a system of validation, judging a school on the basis of its output, rather than accreditation, which prescribes the work which should be done: 'This enables schools to develop their courses and respond to the changing needs of our society.'

And he said that, while it is right to choose members of the visiting panels under Nolan rules which draw them from a wide body of experience, 'it is important that people of the appropriate calibre are introduced into the visiting panels'.

The cic has provided detailed comments to the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution's study on energy and the environment. It calls for:

- vigorous policies to reduce energy demand in buildings and transport

- upgrading housing to an average sap of 65

- deadlines for virtual fossil-free zones in cities, with electric vehicles for public transport

- further exploration of offshore wind-power generation

- increased use of wave and tidal-race energy, and of photovoltaics

- using higher education to raise awareness of energy efficiency in building and planning, developing further commitment to bio-climatic design.

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