Economy Secretary unable to confirm bypass completion date

Dualling work near Foveran
Dualling work near Foveran

The Economy Secretary was today unable to confirm to MSPs that the Spring 2018 deadline for completion of the Aberdeen bypass will be met.

Keith Brown appeared before members of the Rural Economy and Connectivity to provide an update on major projects, including the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR).

Following questions from north-east region Scottish Conservative MSP Peter Chapman, Mr Brown could not say that the road would be fully open to traffic by the end of May this year.

He said that Spring 2018 remained the deadline the government was working towards, but that talks would have to take place with the developer consortium delivering the project, Aberdeen Roads Ltd, on any impact that the collapse of one of the lead contractors, Carillion, may have.

Last week, Mr Brown told the parliament chamber that there would be no effect on the cost or timescale of delivery for the AWPR.

However, during today’s committee session, Michelle Rennie, Director for Major Transportation Projects, said it would be “naïve” to think that there would be no impact from the construction giant going into liquidation.

Speaking after the committee, Mr Chapman said: “It is disappointing that the Cabinet Secretary is not in a position to confirm to the north-east public that this road will be finished on time.

“I think most people would understand, given what has happened with Carillion, that there may well be some knock-on effect.

“Personally, I have severe doubts that the project will be completed by Spring, and even at the back end of that period, which would be May.

“We had a senior government official today say that it would be 'naive' to think that the collapse of Carillion would not have an impact. That makes it even more difficult to believe that everything will proceed as planned and that there will be no setback to the timetable.

"People in the north-east have waited a long time for this road, and it has caused a lot of disruption. They deserve an honest explanation for where we stand, and when this project is likely to be completed."