Prequalification Document;

Cumbria to Bradford Weald and Downland South Midlands Network

This document is concerned with the third group of DBFO road projects to be offered for tender by the Highways Agency (the "Agency"). Of the eight projects previously tendered the first four have now been awarded and the second four projects are in the process of negotiation with preferred or short-listed bidders.

The Secretary of State for Transport (the "Secretary of State") announced on 28 November 1995 that a further five projects would be put to tender in 1996. The three projects which are the subject of this prequalification are: A65/A629/A650/A590 (Cumbria to Bradford)‐l06km road length, estimated construction cost £104m, A21/A26/A27/A259 (Weald and Downland)‐117km road length, estimated construction cost £142m. A6/A43/A421/A428 (South Midlands Network) - 251km road length,estimated construction cost £l16m.The timing of the tender process for the three DBFO projects will be staggered in response to requests from groups who have been involved in previous DBFO bidding rounds.

The two projects which are not included in this prequalification exercise are first, the A13 Thames Gateway project (comprising a 37km section of AI3/A1089 from East London to Tilbury).The A13 route is the first urban DBFO to be offered. The Agency believes that it would be sensible to take more time to discuss the issues applicable to an urban, congested DBFO, and in particular the appropriate payment structures, with those who may potentially wish to bid for this project.The Agency will make a further statement in due course about the issues arising on the A13 Thames Gateway project, on which it will invite comments. The second such project is the A36/A303 Wessex Link (comprising 201km sections of A46/A36 and A303/A30).At the moment the Secretaries of State for Transport and the Environment are considering the Inspector's Report resulting from the Public Inquiry held in relation to the Salisbury Bypass scheme. It is not appropriate to commence prequalification of this project at this time.

The Secretary of State is the Highway Authority and is ultimately responsible for the management, maintenance and improvement of the trunk road network.The Agency is an executive agency of the Department of Transport. It has executive responsibility for deliver of the Secretary of State's highways functions including DBFO road procurement.

Notice has now been sent by the Agency to the official Journal of the European Communities with respect to each of the three DBFO projects, inviting requests from interested parties ("Candidates") to be selected to negotiate with a view to entering into a DBFO contract in respect of one or more of the projects (a "DBFO Contract"). This Prequalification Document provides additional information and describes he procedure for selection to negotiate ("prequalification"). It should be read in conjunction with the three Public Works Contract (Negotiated Procedure) Notices published in the Official Journal.

Requests to prequalify must be received by midday on Wednesday 26th June 1996. No requests will be accepted after this time.

Candidates may seek to prequalify for one or more (including all)of the DBFO projects now advertised. Candidates may combine their requests to prequalify for more than one of the DBFO projects into a single prequalification submission, but the submission must clearly specify for which of DBFO projects the Candidate is seeking to prequalify.

The DBFO Contract will be awarded under the negotiate procedure applicable to Public Works Contracts under the Public Works Contract Regulations 1991(S.I.1991/2680),which implement the EC Works Directive (93/17/EEC). If there is a sufficient number of suitable Candidates, the Agency intends up to four Candidates (the "Tenderers") to negotiate in respect of each DBFO Contract.

There are significant novel features to these DBFO projects. First, two of the projects contain schemes which, although at an advanced stage of implementation, have not yet completed their statutory process, and may not do so before contract award (the "Contingent Schemes"). A decision to contract these schemes within the DBFO contract will be contingent upon the schemes becoming authorized by the Secretary of State and also on the Agency receiving value for money. Given an uncertain outcome, the Agency may invite bids with and without the Contingent Schemes. This development provides an option for taking forward all the priority improvement schemes on the Project Roads as part of the DBFO Contract. In addition it is a first step towards transferring some of the planning and scheme preparation risk to the DBFO Co. The private sector has voiced concerns over the some for innovation being constrained by the undertakings given by the Agency during the statutory process. In particular, in the case of the A650 Hard Ings Road improvement scheme, by becoming involved during scheme development the DBFO Co will be able to deal with the planning requirements alongside its design, construction and operation responsibilities.

Secondly, the DBFO Contracts for the earlier DBFO projects entitle the DBFO Co to receive payments based on traffic volumes in respect of the Project Road ("shadow tolls") .This shadow toll payment formula has proved successful for earlier DBFO projects but the Agency now wishes to refine the shadow tolls to give the DBFO Co further incentive to make safety improvements to the route and to support government policy in relation to management of the trunk road network. Payment structures are dealt with in further detail in section 5.

Thirdly, there is a greater emphasis within the third group of DBFO projects on the operation and maintenance of existing roads, even though each project still provides for a substantial program of new sought (Weald and Downland and the South Midlands Network) cover more than one linear route, and the term "Project Road" within the document should be interpreted accordingly.

The Agency seeks comment from candidates with regard to the issues surrounding Contingent Schemes and alternative payment structures. Any comments should be sent, in writing, to the address shown as Section 9.1 by close on Friday