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Latest Update from the Environment Agency

Update for properties behind the original 93m flood defence design at River Road and Tarrant Wharf- 14 February 2020

We acknowledge the distress felt by many of you as a result of the on-going uncertainty surrounding the Arundel flood defence works. Some of you have asked us for more detail on the processes involved and whilst we recognise that they are complex, we hope that the information below provides you with more detail and clarification on the current situation.

Framework/tender process

We understand that there have been some queries raised regarding the procurement process to appoint a contractor for this scheme. Team Van Oord (TVO) [which is a joint venture, including Mackleys] were appointed onto the Environment Agency’s Water and Environment Management (WEM) Framework. This was done by a commercial competitive tender process in line with Public Contract Regulations (PCR) 2015 and Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) process to demonstrate best value for money. They were 1 of 6 Contractors on that lot of the framework. TVO were also successful in a further competitive commercial exercise to demonstrate value for money in establishing the Programme Delivery Units in the area in which the Arundel Tidal Defences Scheme Phase 1 sits.

As a result of the above process, we are contractually bound to the 6 contractors within the WEM Framework. This means that we are unable to appoint any other contractors (for example, WPH Marine) for works with a significant financial value (above £5000) outside of any of our existing framework arrangements.

What is happening now?

In our update to you on 31 January, we outlined that we had made a request for approval to spend additional money to progress the construction of an updated preferred option at River Road. This has been submitted to our Executive Director of Operations and our National Project Assurance Board (NPAB). NPAB is in place to ensure the tax payer gets the most out of the money invested in projects and to make sure that Treasury guidelines on the assessment of construction projects are followed correctly.

Following NPAB review, a recommendation for approval or refusal will be made to our Executive Director of Operations. Depending on the outcome of this review, additional approvals or decisions may be required. Whilst we are aware of the importance of a timely decision and the impact that ongoing uncertainty has on you and the community, it is important all the appropriate steps are taken in the use of public money. We anticipate that it will take a further 2 to 3 weeks for this process to be complete, at which time the project team will be advised on if and/or how to proceed.

In parallel to the above process, our designers and contractors are working hard on producing the finalised designs for the preferred option and construction methodology, which could be taken forward if additional funding is granted. This work is not yet complete and is still subject to change before it is finalised due to a number of factors including engineering, environmental, and financial. We will share details of the final designs when they are known. Our ability to proceed with any revised design is dependent on approval for additional spend being granted.

Whilst we are finalising the designs for the preferred option we will, in addition, continue to consult with all suppliers available to us through our various frameworks as we seek to identify the best course of action to address the flood defences at River Road. 

Why wasn’t the risk of poor ground condition understood before works started?

Prior to the start of the piling in the river we completed deep boreholes from the land in multiple locations. At the time, these investigations gave us a good level of assurance to start piling. We could have chosen to drill boreholes in the river bed in order to obtain further assurance of the river bed structure. However, this would have cost significantly more due to the need to have the floating jack-up barge in place to accommodate the borehole rig. This significant cost would have detracted from the funds available to do the works. We will continue to send you weekly updates in order to provide you with the latest information.