‘Sour grapes’ over Maidenhead project

Aggregate specialist ARC has been accused of 'sour grapes' by the Environment Agency (EA), after failing to win a contract to transport minerals from the Maidenhead Flood Alleviation Project.

The 11.6km flood relief channel for the Thames between Maidenhead and Windsor will eventually provide flood protection in the area, by increasing flow capacity from 283m3/sec to 515 m3/sec.

Colin Martin the EA’s project manager said: “This is a multi-million pound contract and I can understand the company’s disappointment. But their public criticisms are a classic case of sour grapes and are extremely misleading.” .

EA’s liaison officer Louise Preston told WWT: “ARC claimed we had applied to increase the number of lorries taking gravel by road but this is blatantly not true. One of the proposals received will actually allow us to decrease the number of lorries used, in comparison with our original estimate.” .

ARC had applied for a major part of the project to extract gravel, but according to Mr Martin, its bid for removal and transport by rail was “uncompetitive.” .

The EA will soon reveal details of the successful contractor, who is expected to transport the material by road. The project should be completed by December 2001, at a total cost of £83.5 million. .

David Weekes, ARC spokesman, commented: “It all came down to the EA’s need to go for the cheapest rate of return. We had a great opportunity to extend the railway siding to remove the gravel to Oxfordshire and a £1 million grant from the government to do so. .

“However, this was still not enough according to the accounting process. I think people should know that in many cases, these decisions which are meant to be environmental often do not turn out that way. .

“We do not want to be too critical of the EA, but rather of the approval system which has ended up being rather a complicated farce with a result that nobody really wanted.”

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