SOUTHERN Water has had to abandon plans to allow three teams to have first crack at bidding for the next phase of its upgrade work because it was in danger of falling foul of European procurement laws.
The three - OTVB/Trant/ Mott MacDonald, Gleeson/ MWH and Kier/Murphy/Halcrow - were all chosen at the end of 2002 to carry out the design and solution phase for its Asset Management Programme 4.
Under the plans, the water company - which provides services for Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight - said the three would have exclusive rights to bid for the construction phase of AMP4.
But Official Journal rules are believed to have thwarted its efforts after it was decided the move could be seen as anti competitive.
One source said: 'Southern was finding difficulties to do it within the laws of the OJEC. It is disappointing, because we would have first look-in. But rules are rules.'