Sharing: Shoebury Common Sea Defence options

Here is the briefing that all councillors received just prior to last week’s Full Council meeting.

Shoebury Common Sea Defence options

Briefing Note concerning differences of estimated cost between Black & Veatch and Mott MacDonald raised at Place Scrutiny on 26th January 2015.

At Place Scrutiny Committee of 26th January 2015 Members considered a report on the review of the Shoebury Sea Defence proposals which included a cost assessment of the various schemes reviewed.

These estimates were different from the estimates prepared by consultant Black & Veatch which had been included in the report to Cabinet 5th November 2013 and considered by Full Council in December 2013 – concern was raised by a member of the Scrutiny Committee that Members had been misled into agreeing to progress with the embankment scheme / preferred option.

The preferred option was recommended because it had emerged from the Environment Agency’s (EA) Project Appraisal process as providing the highest benefit /cost ratio and lowest cost of all the management and scheme options and low risk of environmental damage.

The Project appraisal process is both complex and comprehensive and requires detailed technical analysis of various scheme options and it is set out in paragraph 4.1 in the report to Cabinet 5th November 2013. Any scheme has to complete this process as a requirement for receiving grant funding from the EA.

The whole process of scheme development up to the production of the Project Appraisal Report was carried out by a specialist coastal defence team from the consultant Black & Veatch, over a period of two years. Reports to Members during the development of the project were entirely based on the work carried out by Black & Veatch.

Following the formation of the new Joint Administration Cabinet agreed to undertake a review of the Shoebury Common flood defence options previously considered by Members – specialist coastal engineers Mott MacDonald were commissioned to undertake this work.

As part of their review Mott MacDonald prepared completely new high level cost estimates for each of the options.

In all cases, Mott MacDonald’s estimates were lower than Black & Veatch’s, and in respect of the “BERA” project which was the concern at the Scrutiny committee meeting, substantially so, to the extent that the cost order of the projects was changed and the preferred option, which had been estimated by Black & Veatch as the second lowest of five, was third highest of six in Mott Macdonald’s list.

In order to clarify these cost differences Mott Macdonald have advised that:

  • The purpose of the Mott MacDonald costing was not for comparison/benchmarking with other reports which were costed on a different basis and to a different level of detail.

 

  • Was undertaken within a significantly shorter timescale than was available to the PAR (Project Appraisal Report) and with less background information on the project area.

 

Mott MacDonald accept that the costing by Black & Veatch was conducted to a greater level of detail than they were able to prepare given the time they had available to do the review.

In the Mott MacDonald report which Place Scrutiny considered on 26th January the Project Appraisal option / former preferred option was the only scheme to score a green in the RAG assessment on Technical, Economic and Environment assessment criteria – however it scored red on stakeholder acceptability which is why the Cabinet recommended not to progress it further and to commission Mott MacDonald to develop a further range of options for coastal protection at Shoebury Common.

Given this position Members can be assured that they have not been misled on the costs of the various schemes.

 

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