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Awards 2024

United Utilities seeks £50M technical adviser on £1.75bn Haweswater tunnel upgrade

United Utilities is seeking a technical advisor in a £50M contract to aid the delivery of its £1.75bn Haweswater Aqueduct resilience scheme to replace tunnels that provide water for the Lake District.

The Haweswater Aqueduct Resilience Programme (Harp) is a scheme to replace sections of the Haweswater Pipeline, a 110km pipeline that runs from the Lake District through Lancashire and into Greater Manchester. The pipeline, built between 1933 and 1955, provides water to 2.5M people in Cumbria, Lancashire and Greater Manchester for 60 years.

Now United Utilities is procuring a technical advisor for the massive scheme to replace the pipeline to provide long-term water supply resilience to Manchester and the Pennines.


The project will utilise be undertaken by a competitively appointed provider (CAP) which is currently being procured using Ofwat’s new direct procurement for customers approach, a UK first.

Under this approach, Ofwat requires the appointment of a technical adivser/consultant to protect customers in relation to the project. Ofwat requires this role to obtain assurance around the costs and delivery of a direct procurement for customers project.

As part of the £50M technical adviser contract, those wishing to bid must be able to provide technical advice regarding tunnelling machinery and works, financial consultancy, civil engineering and geotechnical services and quantity surveying.

United Utilities views the role of the consultant as crucial to ensure objective, independent oversight of costs that may be passed on to customers and to provide robust scrutiny and assessment of the CAP’s management of project costs and delivery. The consultant will act as an independent party to United Utilities, the CAP and Ofwat and will therefore owe a duty of care to all three parties.

The contract is due to last 11 years (132 months) and will not be subject to renewal.

Those wishing to submit their bids for the contract have until 12pm on 7 June to do so.

The long-awaited Harp was formally put to market in June 2022 with the value of the deal almost double the initial anticipated figure.

United Utilities sought a CAP to design, build, finance and maintain all six tunnel sections of the asset under a whopping £1.75bn deal.

In November of that year, three teams were put forward for the contract. These were:

  • HARP Community Connectors: comprising of Acciona, Dragados and Iridium
  • More Water: comprising of FCC Construcción, SNC-Lavalin, FCC Aqualia, Webuild and BeMo Tunnelling
  • Strabag Equitix Consortium: comprising of Equitix and Strabag

NCE reported in 2019 that Costain had won an early involvement contract on the programme – which was then estimated at £750m.

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