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24 May 2023 < Back

Environment Agency stalls overdue PFR framework bids

Our ability to make buildings more able to cope with floodwater has come a long way over the last ten years. The technology has improved the understanding of how to adapt buildings to keep water out, manage it when it does, and/or make things quicker to recover, is as good as anywhere in the world.

These technological and practical advances have been backed by standards: product approvals for Property Flood Resilience (PFR) systems, codes of practice that cover every aspect of design and delivery, training courses seeded by Government investment, revisions to British Standards and the list goes on.

The elephant in the room

But as all these well-meaning, but very slow initiatives come to fruition, the elephant in the room has not emerged from the shadows and is stamping all over the best laid plans of well-meaning folk who drive desks. 

It has taken so long to get things organised, that the industry that was supposed to deliver high quality PFR has packed up and disappeared. Without regular flooding events and with only limited amounts of Government and private work to help keep specialist PFR contractors and suppliers afloat, they have gone bust, changed tack, or found other things to do. 

So now, instead of a thriving innovative community of product suppliers delivering great kit to a wealth of motivated experienced contractors, the Environment Agency (EA) has discovered that there are not even enough contractors interested in £50 million worth of PFR contracting to meet their tendering rules. As a result, the tender issued earlier this year for the “framework packages” has been withdrawn. 

What grates is that PCA has gone on record countless times communicating this problem to Government, insurers and anyone else who might listen or be affected. Unfortunately, those who had a chance to help maintain the skills and expertise which had developed after the floods earlier this century, failed to act. 

Everything is under control...right?

A tiny handful of very resilient product suppliers clinging to the prospect of jam tomorrow, have now been kicked in the teeth again. The cost and effort of tendering for a new package of work, are apparently stifled by the fact there aren’t enough of them left to meet the competition rules set by Government procurement.  

The EA reacted quickly to the Guardian article with a message suggesting, 'nothing to see here, everything is under control'. Quite interesting, but frankly incredible and utterly wrong. The lack of competition, the porosity of skills and experience, the dire condition of the few specialists who are left trying to survive long enough to win some work, is not only bad for industry, but it’s bad for Government and bad for the people who could be spared the misery of flooding...



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