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The Jubilee River story - Arup deny downplaying role (NCE)

Arup denies downplaying its role on Jubilee River

BERKSHIRE RESIDENTS this week accused consultant Arup of attempting to downplay its role in the flawed 110M Jubilee River flood defence scheme.

They made the claim after discovering that Arup had rewritten an account of its involvement in the project which appears on its website.

Arup dismissed the claim and strongly defended its work on the project.

Main contractor Balfour Beatty appointed Arup to advise on 'design improvements' on part of the scheme between April 1997 and October 1998.

The Jubilee River project has since been criticised for featuring a raft of design and construction defects (NCE 19/26 August).

Arup's website originally claimed that the consultant had provided 'an innovative alternative design that introduced significant cost savings and environmental benefits'.

The same part of the website now says that Arup's solution 'improved the ecological and aesthetic environment while satisfying the hydraulic criteria'.

References to cost savings have been dropped.

Datchet Parish councillor Ewan Larcombe pointed out that the Arup website had also changed details about the river.

'The channel appears to have shrunk in length from 11.8km to 11.6km, and the cost increased from 73.4M to 110M; the protected area seems to have diminished from 'the Thames Valley area' to 'areas of Maidenhead, Windsor and Eton', ' said Larcombe.

Arup said the page had been changed because it was misleading and was being 'wilfully misunderstood'.

'We offered a flood alleviation solution for a 2km section between Mill Lane Road Bridge and the A40 Road Bridge, a section of the river that is not included in the current flood alleviation investigation, ' said a spokesman.

'Arup offered geotechnical and environmental engineering expertise to find a solution which maximised the use of natural resources and minimised the use of more expensive man-made materials.