Construction work can now begin on the final two sections of the A465 Heads of the Valleys road expansion scheme in Wales, following financial closure of the project. Law firms Hugh James and Harper Macleod worked in partnership to advise on the £550 million scheme - the first-ever Mutual Investment Model (MIM) project in Wales.
Cardiff headquartered firm, Hugh James, and Scottish lawyers Harper Macleod, acted for one of the world's leading construction contractors, FCC Construcción S.A - appointed by the Future Valleys consortium to carry out the design and construction work. Harper Macleod's team have extensive experience having led the way in pioneering Scottish projects such as the Aberdeen WPR NPD project, whilst Hugh James construction lawyers provided expertise on aspects of Welsh legislation and construction sub-contracts.
The recent financial closure now gives the green light for construction work to commence. It will convert a 25-mile stretch of the A465 into two lanes in each direction – from Dowlais Top, in Merthyr Tydfil, to Hirwain in Rhondda Cynon Taf. The new road is expected to open in 2024.
Commenting on the project, Hugh James Construction Partner, Iwan Jenkins, said: “We’re proud to have played our part in this unique project for Wales, as the first Welsh MIM project to close in Wales. It would have been challenging and complex even in normal circumstances, but more so due to the tight timescales from preferred bidder status, and the challenges presented by COVID-19 and working remotely. However, the experience and dedication of the whole team made it all possible and it was a pleasure to work in partnership with Harper Macleod and the FCC in-house legal team. I wish everyone all the very best with the rest of this important infrastructure project in Wales which will see the completion of the Heads of Valleys A465 dualling project.”
Partner and Head of Harper Macleod’s Infrastructure and Projects Team, Euan Pirie, added: "This is a significant project and very much the first of its kind. It has been a complex, international transaction with numerous contractors from the EU involved along with UK businesses – all against the backdrop of the pandemic.
"My team previously advised on projects in Scotland which were the first to use the DBFM and NPD models, from which the MIM model borrows some of its structure, and we are delighted to have been able to bring that experience to bear in getting this project over the line. These models move much of the financial risk involved in projects of this magnitude from the public balance sheet to that of the contractors, including our clients. Having helped the Scottish models navigate these same challenges, we were delighted to advise on this matter for the client FCC."