The expiry of the previous Water and Environment Management (WEM) Framework in July 2019 provided the Environment Agency with the opportunity to review their relationships with existing suppliers and introduce more effective and sustainable commercial arrangements.
They wanted their next framework to promote innovative ways of collaborative working with delivery partners and local communities from the initial planning stages of a project right through to its completion. This would build on positive experiences from ‘hub’ working that was introduced to fast-track delivery mid-way through the WEM Framework, and also incorporate learnings from other leading public and private infrastructure providers. The main purpose of the framework is to deliver the majority of the Environment Agency’s Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) capital programme.
What we are doing
To meet this purpose, the Environment Agency developed the Collaborative Delivery Framework (CDF) and appointed contractors and consultants to work alongside their own teams in six geographical regions. VolkerStevin were appointed as the sole contractor in the southeast and northwest regions. Being entrusted to two of the six regions demonstrates the Environment Agency’s faith in our ability and track record of delivering flood and coastal defence projects – only one other contractor was awarded two regions.
Our two regional teams are planning large pipelines of work. They are deriving efficiencies by offering buildability input early in the design of each scheme, batching works both geographically and by scope, and de-risking projects by widely engaging stakeholders and regulators. They are developing solutions to reduce the risk of river and coastal flooding as well as delivering social and environmental improvements.
Project values range from £250k to £50m+ and cover construction of fluvial, coastal and tidal flood defences, impounding structures, coastal engineering, wave and scour protection, hard coastal defences, revetment works, outfalls, breakwaters, rock armour placement, habitat creation, river restoration, ‘soft’ engineering, pumping and control systems, land remediation, mechanical, electrical, instrumentation, control and automation (MEICA), lock gates, floodgates, flood barriers, navigation, and regeneration.
Toby Willison, executive director of operations at the Environment Agency, said: “This ambitious framework will help us to continue to deliver our £2.6 billion flood and coastal defence programme in a way which ensures that sustainability, efficiency and value for money remain at the very heart of the work we do to protect people, homes and the environment.”
We also secured a place on the national Marine and Coastal Framework through our existing and long-running joint venture with Boskalis Westminster and Atkins, known as VBA. This sits alongside CDF and gives the Environment Agency and other risk management agencies the option to utilise this framework to competitively tender coastal or offshore works.
Both frameworks will run through to 2023 with an option to extend the CDF by a further four years.
This is our fourth consecutive framework term with the Environment Agency, marking over 20 years of collaborative working. We have played a key role in the Environment Agency’s transition from a traditional framework model to a more efficient programme that has delivered time and cost savings, helping them work towards their overall target to protect 300,000 homes from flooding.
In the North West our teams are involved in 28 projects which are on the ground or being planned, including major flood defence projects at Preston in Lancashire and Littleborough in Greater Manchester, and a coastal scheme at West Kirkby on The Wirral.
There are 34 projects currently under construction or being planned by our south east team, including the Rother Tidal Walls scheme on the south coast.
Structured around the Project 13 enterprise delivery model, the framework’s novel approach to achieving programme-level incentivisation was runner-up in the 2022 NEC Contract Innovation of the Year award.