Galliford Try was paid £2.9m for “pre-construction” work it completed on an inland border facility that has since been abandoned, Construction News can reveal.
The firm was contracted to deliver the 15-hectare site in Dover, Kent, under a two-stage design-and-build contract, to the value of £27.9m. It was intended for customs checks, physical inspections, and the clearance of goods entering and leaving the UK.
Following a change of heart, the government scrapped the project in June, arguing that existing facilities had “enough capacity” to deal with the flow of cross-border traffic.
However, CN can reveal that Galliford Try pocketed just shy of £3m on the now-axed project after it completed the first stage of work on site.
Responding to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, HMRC confirmed the work undertaken by the contractor covered pre-construction services, while some of the payment was for materials.
The Department for Transport (DfT) is currently looking at “alternative uses” for the site to “ensure value for money”, HMRC added.
It also claims the government saved £120m by scrapping the plans – approximately the same value as the construction and maintenance work required at the site.
Typically, a pre-construction services agreement involves helping with the design, compiling tender documents for sub-contractors and preparing the site for work.
The White Cliffs inland border facility would have been located close to the A2 in Kent, and the villages of Guston and Whitfield.
The road system in Kent, and the stretch through Dover in particular, has come under considerable strain since the UK voted to leave the EU, with customs controls enacted from the beginning of 2021.
A government spokesperson said it “monitor[s] the performance” of all inland border facility works to make sure they provide value for money.
“Current spending has been managed very closely to date, and the decision to not continue with the development of Dover IBF has saved around £120m,” they added, confirming the DfT is looking at alternative ways of developing the site.
Galliford Try declined to comment.