NEC has been used for a vital coastal defence project in south Wales. Following an early contractor involvement stage, Bridgend County Borough Council let the Porthcawl Sandy Bay coastal scheme to contractor Knights Brown under a £6 million NEC3 Engineering and Construction Contract (ECC) Option A (priced contract with activity schedule) in April 2021. The NEC project manager and supervisor was WSP Redstart and the designer was Arup.
The work involved repairs and improvements to the grade-II-listed 1820s western breakwater and eastern promenade on the west side of the popular Sandy Bay beach in Porthcawl. This included repairing masonry and concrete, raising parapets, building a precast concrete cut-off wall and installing new rock armour. Despite the impacts of Covid-19 and several severe storms, it was completed to the agreed programme and budget in June 2023.
The scheme provides 1-in-200 year flood protection to around 700 existing properties for the next 100 years, and safeguards an adjacent 40 ha mixed-use regeneration site where 1,170 new homes are planned. It also improves protection to the Rhych Point headland and sand dunes at the eastern end of the beach. The scheme was highly commended for the Environmental Project of the Year in the 2023 British Construction Industry Awards.
Cost acuity and risk mitigation
Jason Jenkins of Bridgend County Borough Council says ECC Option A was considered to be the most appropriate contract for the significant risks envisaged with coastal engineering. ‘The adoption of ECC Option A enabled cost acuity and mitigated risk to the client. Also, the significant use of NEC throughout the industry ensured there was considerable case law and professional knowledge which could direct and facilitate the contract to a successful conclusion.’
He says delivery of the works was challenging given the need for tidal working and the impact of adverse weather. ‘However, the utilisation of the ECC Option A and the transfer of foreseeable risk ensured that the contractor could price and programme sufficient risk allowance to deliver the works efficiently.'
Furthermore, Jenkins says that the NEC requirement to act in a ‘sprit of mutual trust and co-operation’ was fully embraced by the parties. ‘The works proved to be a collaborative venture and the close working relationships ensured a clear and transparent avenue to the successful completion.’
Resolution of final account
He says NEC contract processes also played a vital role. ‘The implementation of NEC early warnings and compensation event agreements via the ECC protocols ensured a firm conduit for the resolution of the final account and completion date, which aligned with the client’s risk profile and expenditure requirements.’
Jenkins adds that the programming of works aligned clearly with the contractor’s analysis of the tidal reach and availability of working areas. ‘The obvious risk associated to tidal works in harsh coastal environment was facilitated within the contract and again priced accordingly within the contractor’s programme submissions.’
Benefits of NEC
- NEC requirement to act in a ‘spirit of mutual trust and co-operation’ led to collaborative and close working relationship between the parties, with full transparency.
- ECC Option A ensured the contractor priced and programmed sufficient risk allowance to deliver the works efficiently, giving the client maximum cost certainty with minimum exposure to risk.
- NEC early warnings, programming requirements and compensation events provided a clear path towards successful completion on time and budget.