From: Public Accounts Committee []
Sent: 28 March 2007 17:53
Subject: Jubilee River scheme

Dear Mr Larcombe,

Thank you for your email of 31 January to Edward Leigh, Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts, about the cost and operation of the Jubilee River. As my colleague Phil Jones told you, we passed the matter to the National Audit Office (NAO), who had recently looked at the Jubilee River Scheme and their findings are set out in the attachment to this email.

The NAO focused their enquiries on the costs incurred on the construction of the scheme and the subsequent works to rectify design faults and damage caused by the operation of the scheme in January 2003. They found the scheme had indeed cost more than £108 million (some £24 million more than budgeted, once figures are adjusted for inflation) and only operates at approximately 87% of its original design capacity, following completion of remedial work to repair damage sustained during January 2003. The cost over-runs were largely due to a lack of milestone checks in the Environment Agency’s (the Agency) project management procedures, which have since been substantially revised.

The NAO also reviewed the appointment of the chair of the Flood Risk Action Groups, and found no evidence that he was not sufficiently independent, although the Agency acknowledged the shortage of suitable alternative candidates.

Finally, the NAO looked at the steps being taken by the Agency to address the risk of flooding downstream of the river. The Agency’s Lower Thames Strategy, commissioned in response to the 2003 floods is currently considering a number of options to reduce the risk of flooding between Datchet and Teddington Lock. This will, I hope, go some way towards addressing your concerns.

Thank you for bringing this matter to the attention of the Public Accounts Committee.

Yours sincerely,

Mark Etherton

<<NAO Examination of the Jubilee River Scheme.doc>>                                          Examination of the Jubilee River Scheme    
Mark Etherton

Committee of Public Accounts
House of Commons
7 Millbank
London SW1P 3JA