NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Aberdeen bypass delay 'until autumn' confirmed

Aberdeen bypass work Image copyright Sepa
Image caption The Scottish government recently said it hoped the bypass would be finished by spring

A "very disappointing" delay to the opening of the Aberdeen bypass until autumn has been confirmed.

The Scottish government said earlier this year it hoped the bypass would be finished by the spring.

However, Economy Secretary Keith Brown has now told MSPs that the project's opening date could now be late autumn.

The 28-mile Aberdeen bypass was given the green light by Scottish ministers in 2009, but was delayed by legal action. It has a price tag of £745m.

'Continued patience'

Mr Brown said: "While this revision to the opening date is very disappointing to the people of the north east, we have to accept the expert advice of our contractors on the ground who are delivering this significant project.

"Clearly there has been a huge amount of work that has gone in to getting the project to where we are now. I would like to pay tribute to the effort of the people who are working hard to get this project over the finishing line."

He added: "I understand how highly anticipated this project is for those living and working in the region and the patience local communities have shown during the construction process. I would like to thank them for their continued patience as we enter the final stages of the project."

He said efforts would continue to open sections of the road as early as possible.

Preparatory work on the Aberdeen bypass began in August 2014, and construction work began in February 2015.

Mr Brown had said in January he hoped the Aberdeen bypass would open in April or May, but was unable to give an exact date.

He made the comments while giving evidence to Holyrood's rural economy and connectivity committee on major transport projects.

He said the collapse of contractor Carillion would have an impact.

Construction injuries

Bypass partners Balfour Beatty and Galliford Try are now covering the costs arising from Carillion's collapse.

Carillion went into liquidation in January, after talks between the company, its creditors and the UK government failed.

It is involved in several other infrastructure projects in Scotland, including the electrification of the central Scotland railway line and the extension of platforms at Edinburgh's Waverley Station.

Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce said it understood that large-scale projects could be affected by delays but it said the uncertainty was damaging for business.

Chief executive Russell Borthwick said: "We have been consistent in asking only for clarity and honesty to enable businesses to plan for the change and the benefits it will bring.

"It's only a matter of weeks ago that we were being told the date was still Winter/Spring 2018 while most casual observers could see this was unlikely.

"Now we are told by the minister that August is the date but meantime Transport Scotland advisers are warning it's more likely to be 'late autumn'. So we still don't really know."

It was revealed this week that more than 120 people have been hurt during the Aberdeen bypass construction work.

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