Bill for flood defence project in Saffron Walden is revised down by agency after council’s concern

The current trash screen is considered "operationally deficient".

The current trash screen is considered "operationally deficient". - Credit: Archant

The projected cost of replacing flood defences and carrying out other works to a culvert running through Saffron Walden has been reduced by about £600,000 following a review of works in “greater detail”.

Saffron Walden Town Council has approved plans to replace a trash screen at the opening of the culvert which runs under the town.

At a full town council meeting on July 9, representatives from the Environment Agency (EA) answered questions about the costs, the risks of not carrying out the works and how it will be managed.

The project is estimated to cost £2.1 million and will be funded by a group of public bodies, including Anglian Water, in recognition of the risk of damage to property should the works not be carried out.

As reported by the Reporter in May, the Environment Agency had made an initial costs estimate for the work of £2.7million, prompting concern from some members of the town council over affordability. Following the initial estimate, however, the agency says it has revised down the bill.

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In answer to a question from Councillor Paul Gadd, an EA representative confirmed that the current estimate of the cost of the trash screen alone is £35,000.

A spokesman for the EA said: “In recent months, we have been reviewing the works in greater detail and as a result our project costs have been reduced from £2.7million to £2.1million, as of July 2018. The total project cost will be finalised at the full business case. We are aiming to have approval in the autumn and construction under way during the early part of 2019.

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“We will be contacting all interested parties in due course to update them on the latest project developments. This will include details around the project start date and approximate length of the works.

“The actual site works associated with the trash screen have reduced from £252,560 to £129,000, whilst the risk contingency for the trash screen element of the project has reduced from £314,250 to £203,000.

“We must consider risks when reviewing a scheme and if there is uncertainty in achieving the objectives of the project. As we have moved closer to delivery, the amount of uncertainty has decreased, allowing us to reduce the risk contingency.”

Uttlesford District Council is to establish an ownership fund to plan for future costs.

No further works are anticipated for 25 years and the overall lifespan of the works is expected to be 50 years.

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