Questions will “have to be answered”, a north-east MSP has claimed after a £64 million legal agreement was agreed “in principle” between transport bosses and the firms behind the city’s bypass.
Aberdeen Roads Limited (ARL), the consortium responsible for constructing the 36-mile AWPR, lodged a compensation claim after claiming the initial price of the £745m project was no longer accurate.
It is understood that its members Galliford Try and Balfour Beatty are close to receiving a cash settlement of £32m each.
The settlement is in addition to the £745m for the scheme with sources close to the project stating it is “not unusual” for claims for additional sums to be raised by a contractor on large, complex infrastructure projects.
North-east Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald said: “It’s good it has finally been settled but £64m is a lot of money and a lot on top of what was already an expensive contract. What the public will want to know is what the £64m is for.
“There’s lots of questions to be answered on why so much and how it happened.”
Transport Secretary Michael Matheson previously said he would not “allow contractors to hold us over a barrel and put a gun to our head to extract more taxpayers’ money for a road they are already being paid for” following questions about who would cover extra costs.
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “Following prolonged discussion, we have agreed in principle a full and final commercial settlement with ARL for construction of the AWPR/B-T. This is a strictly commercial settlement with no admission of liability by either party.
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“The detailed terms of this settlement are now being developed between the parties as quickly as possible. Due to this ongoing legal discussion, it would be inappropriate to comment on the terms of the settlement at this time.
“As the first anniversary of the full opening of the AWPR project approaches, it is important to recognise the transformational effect this project has had on people’s daily lives in the north-east, as evidenced through the widespread public support for the completed project.”
Sources close to the project claim Scottish Ministers recognised ARL faced “significant challenges” in the delivery of what was an already complex and challenging project, including Storm Frank and the Beast from the East, along with the collapse of one of the construction joint venture companies, Carillion Construction Ltd.
A Balfour Beatty spokeswoman said ARL is in “advanced discussions” with the client regarding a settlement to resolve its claim.
She added: “A conclusion to these advanced discussions would result in Balfour Beatty receiving around £32m as part of the settlement with no material change to the group’s balance sheet position.
“Any settlement would remain subject to usual consents and approvals of all interested stakeholders.”
Galliford Try could not be reached for comment.