United Utilities has issued a periodic indicative notice to start a tender process for the Haweswater Aqueduct Resilience Programme (HARP).
This is under a ground-breaking new contract model, after receiving formal consent from water regulator Ofwat.
It is the first time that the Direct Procurement for Customers model has been used in the UK water sector, following three years of planning and commercial development by United Utilities.
HARP will be the largest infrastructure project undertaken by United Utilities since privatisation.
The original aqueduct was completed in the 1950s to increase supplies of water into Manchester and the Pennines region from the Lake District. The project will see the replacement of six tunnel sections along the 80-mile aqueduct route, ensuring the resilience of the asset for decades to come.
Neil Gillespie, director of strategic programmes at United Utilities, said: “A project of this scale will always be challenging from a technical and planning perspective, but we have also had to start from scratch to develop the commercial framework for the procurement model. United Utilities has a long tradition of embracing innovation to push the status quo, driven by the ambition to improve efficiency and secure the best possible value for our customers. This is an exciting milestone on that journey and this process will provide robust insights and learning for the future use of the DPC model.”
Keith Mason, senior director, future assets and resources at Ofwat, added: "Direct procurement for customers has, through competition, the potential to benefit customers in England and Wales in delivering the largest and most complex water and wastewater assets at a lower cost, while allowing new providers to introduce new ideas. We welcome the HARP project. It is a pathfinder being the first project to be procured under our DPC process which we expect will become a model for future infrastructure delivery."
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