Environment Agency enlists Arcadis to offset UK floods

22 July 2019 Consultancy.uk 3 min. read

Arcadis has won a new framework with the UK’s Environment Agency, as it looks to bolster its flood prevention efforts. The agency hopes to protect about 300,000 homes across the country from flooding within the next two years.

A plethora of factors are making it more likely than ever that the UK’s rivers will burst their banks in the future. Deforestation and sprawling urbanisation have made it harder and harder for the land to absorb heavy rains, while the extinction of a number of keystone animal species have radically altered the way rivers can evolve to hold water in the last few centuries. At the same time, extreme weather events have become ever more prevalent, with storms battering Britain and further upping the likelihood of devastating deluges, with 17 people dying in the winter floods in 2013/2014 alone, and many thousands more being impacted.

Amid this, the Environment Agency – a non-departmental public body sponsored by the UK Government's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with responsibilities relating to the protection and enhancement of the environment in England – has been working to help the country better adapt to these dangerous new conditions. In 2017, this saw the Environment Agency turn to IT consultancy CGI to deliver and operate a new Future Flood Forecasting System, leveraging scalable cloud computing to help produce flood predictions.

Environment Agency enlists Arcadis to offset UK floods

Now, as the Environment Agency looks to further boost its flooding preparations, it has announced a new framework agreement with another consulting industry entity. The partnership will see Arcadis assist in preventing floods, in a contract which constitutes the engineering and consultancy firm’s fifth framework agreement with the agency. According to analysts from KBC Securities, the new contract is mainly a continuation of an existing one; however, the new agreement does increase Arcadis’ prominence in the growing flood protection market.

The new framework will allow for local councils and risk authorities to support their flood resilience projects and programmes nationally. The amount of money involved in the new contract will not be disclosed, but according to Arcadis, it is part of an overall Client Support Framework worth £2.6 billion.

Brian Francis, Client Support Framework Manager at the Environment Agency, explained, “Client Support Framework partners will work alongside other integrated team members to help establish climate-resilient places, supporting the development of climate-resilient infrastructure. Together we will ensure homes, communities and businesses are receiving the best possible flood and coastal management support for the challenges facing their area, helping the nation adapt to flood risk and coastal change.”

Over the course of a four-year cooperation, Arcadis will now help the Environment Agency to modernise its planning and risk management in the fight against floods. This will include supporting all aspects of the Environment Agency’s programme of capital investment and improvement works for flood defences nationally across Britain, including contract and cost management, and carbon reduction. The hope is that this will enable the agency to protect around 300,000 homes against flooding by 2021.

Colin Whitton, Director at Arcadis, said of the news, “Having worked with the Environment Agency for over 17 years now, we have a long-standing relationship and, through this latest framework, will be able to step-up our partnership to the next level. A priority will be to ensure that program delivery is in alignment with relevant Government codes and careful consideration is given to how investment is best spent. Ultimately, the framework and the Environment Agency’s strategy echoes our vision to always be improving quality of life, the safety of citizens and ensuring the environment is a top priority.”