Government to relaunch bidding for flood defence

Bidders asked to reapply for lucrative contract after rail fiasco raised procurement flaws

The Environment Agency will re-launch the bidding process for a lucrative flood defence contract after fears that the original tender suffered similar technical flaws to those that caused the West Coast Mainline fiasco.

The rail-franchise failure, which saw Sir Richard Branson nearly sue the Government for awarding the £5bn contract to FirstGroup before that decision was overturned, sparked a review of wider government procurement.

This is understood to have led to the flood defence process being halted, despite a widely held belief that Atkins is the favourite to land the work under either format. Coincidentally, the engineer was a technical adviser on the process for the London to Glasgow West Coast, a franchise that will now be run by Virgin until at least the end of next year.

Although the flood defence contract delay will not cost the tens of millions to the public purse that was one of the major features of the suspension of West Coast, it is thought that around 15 bidders have each already spent about £1m on the suspended process. The scheme will be re-launched next Tuesday, which will be a relief to households which fear a repeat of the floods that wrecked property and left the insurance industry with a £1.2bn bill last year.

An Environment Agency spokesman said: "We have slightly delayed this procurement process to give complete transparency to bidders and will be re-issuing the invitation to tender on 26 February. The new framework will be awarded in June 2013.

"We do not believe delivery of flood defence projects will be held up by the re-tendering and are confident the amount of new work which bidders are required to do will be minimal."

Both the present Coalition and last Labour government have been criticised for not investing enough into flood defences in recent years. This has led to a stand-off with the insurance industry, which has agreed with the Government that it will make its policies for homeowners living on floodplains affordable so long as defences are improved.

This deal comes to an end in June. The Association of British Insurers and the Government are trying to hammer out a replacement scheme before then, though many insurers have already based their renewal policies on models assuming that a deal might not be in place.

David Cameron has asked trusted Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin to lead the talks, as MPs from all parties grow increasingly aware of how not having a deal could devastate local housing markets. Typically, homes built on floodplains would be paying only £340 a year to protect them against damage that is often around £20,000-30,000.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has arisen within th...

Ashdown Group: Development Manager - Rickmansworth - £55k +15% bonus

£50000 - £63000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / D...

Recruitment Genius: Security Officer

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Applicants must hold a valid SIA Door Su...

Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - City, London

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Services - The C...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss