British Waterways procures its work through competitive tender. In 2000/01 it introduced "omnibus contracts". These are partnerships with engineering contractors whereby ecologists, engineers and heritage experts from the company sit alongside planners, estimators and site agents from contractors. Phase two omnibus contracts have since been introduced, and these extend to 2008. The southern and London contract was recently won by Nuttall.
Current and future projects
British Waterways reduced its total investment and maintenance expenditure in 2001/01 to £82m. Investment is expected to remain at a similar level over the short term before a sharp rise in investment towards 2003/05.
According to the company, it managed to reduced its safety-related maintenance backlog to £40m, and its non-safety-related backlog to £181m last year. The main reason for the recent fall in investment was a lull as many of the large projects started at the beginning of the decade were completed. Another factor underlying the recent decline in investment is the drop-off in partnership funding, which the company increasingly relies on for restoration projects. Partnership funding fell in 2001 and 2002, and is expected to remain low over the next two years. However, a sharp rise is expected in 2004/05.
Funding income (from the public and private sectors) for major restoration projects fell from about £65m in 2000/01 to £43m in 2001/02. It is expected to fall further to about £30m in both 2002/03 and 2003/04, after which a rise to about £50m a year is expected for the following three years. This rise is associated with the planned "tranche two" of British Waterway's upgrade programme, which will involve the opening up of 100 miles of waterway.
Increasingly, British Waterways is using private partnership funding to upgrade and restore the canal system – £150m of which is planned for the next tranche of projects. One of the major schemes is Bow Back Rivers in east London. British Waterways recently launched a feasibility study into rejuvenating this canal system. The aim is not only to improve the waterways, but also raise land values, attract private-sector development and increase employment.
British Waterways recently launched Isis Waterside Regeneration, a £1.4bn partnership involving 800,000 m2 of development near to British Waterway's land portfolio. The company also recently announced plans to invest in new water supply venture Watergrid.
Procurement manager Ken Butcher Contact details
Willow Grange, Church Road, Watford,
Hertfordshire WD17 4QA
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