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Environment Agency sets up client support network

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An £80m client support network is being set up by the Environment Agency under its Client Support Framework to help it deliver on its programme covering capital investment and improvement works on its flood defence assets, in addition to wider business requirements.

There were seven companies bidding for the framework, and this was tendered in two separate Lots. Capita Black and Veatch Consortium, Jeremy Benn Associates Ltd and Jacobs UK Ltd won contracts totalling around £27m under Lot 1 for "Technical Delivery Support".

The second lot covering "Contract, Cost and Carbon Management Support includes AECOM Ltd, Arcadis Consulting (UK) Ltd, Capita Black and Veatch Consortium and Turner and Townsend Cost Management Ltd.  The lot is worth a total of £53m.

In addition, Mott MacDonald Ltd won contracts under both Lots.

EA is also involved in a research project with Cambridge University "exploring the potential use of incentives within environmental regulation". It says this is research, "not a firm commitment to the future use of incentives" and it is seeking views via an online survey.

The EA survey is looking to gain a broader perspective as to how to incentivise environmental performance more effectively. It adds it is "especially keen to hear from those within the Combustion, Cement Lime & Minerals, and Chemicals sectors, as well as from people working within the broader supply chain of those sectors". Contributors are invited to register at: before the survey closes on 15 September.

On 29 August, EA also announced the findings of a study commissioned from the Met Office assessing the implications of sea level rise out to the year 2300. This developed new projections of mean and extreme sea levels (composed of combined height of mean sea level, tide and surge, but excluding waves) over the period. The information generated will be critical for long-term planning and the UK’s adaptation response to increasing sea levels, it says.

The work found that "sea levels are expected to continue to rise past the end of the 21st century under all of the UKCP18 [UK Climate Projections 2018] greenhouse gas emission scenarios," but vary by region. For London and Cardiff, the projection is for some 0.5m to 2.2m, 0.8m to 2.6m and 1.4m to 4.3m sea level rise for the low representative concentration pathway (RCP2.6), medium–low (RCP4.5) and high (RCP8.5) emissions scenarios respectively. But the increase is substantially less in Edinburgh and Belfast as land levels are rising in the north, with corresponding ranges at 2300 of some 0.0m to 1.7m, 0.2m to 2.1m and 0.7m to 3.6m.

Even so, the study warns that "it is not possible to rule out substantially larger increases in sea level associated primarily with a potential acceleration in ice mass input from West Antarctica".

It says flood risk posed by extreme sea levels "increases as a direct result of the increasing coastal water levels". Rates of increase will vary with time and location, it adds.

On wave changes due to climate change, there is less certainty. It says the literature provides some evidence for "a decrease in future annual mean significant wave height (the average of the largest third of waves), but a potential increase in extreme wave heights for offshore waves around the UK". Changes to water depth inshore as sea levels rise are expected to affect wave heights and the position of the surf zone, but these were not assessed in the report.

The research will be useful for infrastructure operators and those managing the risks of changing climate, says EA.

On 29 August, the agency published further research revealing that climate change could increase the risk of eutrophication (clogging of waters with algae and higher plant growth due to excessive nutrients) in slow-flowing English rivers, leading to reduced water quality. Algal blooms are often toxic to humans and animals, and necessitate additional treatment in the case of drinking water. The study concluded that residence time, water temperature and exposure to sunlight are particularly important factors, and that managing these factors will help cut risk of algal blooms in the future.

By understanding future risk, it says "people involved in water quality management can implement a range of cost-effective management solutions to ensure that improvements in water quality in England continue to be achieved".

Meanwhile, a £1m project to cut flood risk to 91 homes and 17 businesses in Earby, Lancashire was completed, according to EA, on 22 August. This involved repairing Victoria Clough culvert, with work starting in July 2018. The work included installation of a replacement 40m length of culvert beneath the disused railway embankment that had partially collapsed, other sections were lined, and installation of a 2-tier trash screen to avoid blockage and flooding.





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