Coronavirus: Firm pulls out of £350m Aberdeen harbour project

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Harbour expansion work
Image caption,
Completion of the project had already been delayed until next year

The principal contractor in Aberdeen's £350m harbour expansion is withdrawing from the project.

Dragados said it was ending its involvement at Aberdeen's South Harbour as of 15 June. It blamed the coronavirus pandemic, as well as "other factors".

Aberdeen Harbour Board said the procurement process for the remaining 30% of the project was under way.

The work is aimed at allowing cruise ships direct access to the site.

The expansion would allow the ships to berth alongside the dock, eliminating the need to ferry passengers ashore by small boat.

A spokesperson for Dragados said: "Dragados UK is proud of the progress achieved with this project but the Covid-19 emergency and other factors have meant that our involvement in the project has ended earlier than originally anticipated.

"We wish the project every success as it progresses towards completion."

Michelle Handforth, the board's chief executive, said: "This year's summer season was of critical importance to the Aberdeen Harbour expansion project, as we endeavoured to complete a series of major construction milestones and continued to address the rock removal challenges first identified in October last year.

"The interruption to the schedule as a result of the Covid-19 emergency has had the effect of greatly compounding those existing challenges.

"It is too early at this stage to confirm what impact this will have on the construction timeline, especially given current Covid-19 restrictions, but the intention for a phased opening, when safe to do so, remains unaffected".

Image source, Aberdeen Harbour Board
Image caption,
The expansion would eliminate the need to ferry passengers ashore by boat

Activity on site is currently restricted due to coronavirus measures.

BBC Scotland revealed last week that a new contractor was being sought to complete work, and that talks were ongoing between the harbour board and Dragados.

The Scottish government said in a statement: "We will continue to work with regional partners to ensure the projects within the Aberdeen City Region Deal are delivered and bring about the inclusive and sustainable economic benefits intended."

It emerged in October that completion of the project would be delayed. Initially due this year, it is now due to be finished in 2021.

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