“I don’t know if we can stick to spring deadline for AWPR” says minister

Economy Secretary Keith Brown on a visit to the AWPR near Aberdeen yesterday

The project manager of the AWPR today said it was “difficult to say” whether the scheme could stick to its new spring deadline.

The remarks were made while Economy Secretary Keith Brown met former Carillion staff during a visit to see the progress of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route

The firm had been part of a joint venture with Balfour Beatty and Galliford Try to deliver the £745 million project.

Work has continued on the bypass since Carillion collapsed, with it being revealed yesterday that more than 90% of the
firm’s former workers have been taken on by the project’s other two contractors.

Scott Shaw, project manager of the AWPR, said: “There’s no doubt it throws an extra challenge that we would really have preferred not to have.

“We do have that challenge, so looking at the scale of the project with a budget of £745m is not insignificant and the project is 58km long.

“To lose one third of the contracting party and ask the other two to pick it up, we expect there will be some impact.

“But what we don’t understand is what that impact is and we’re working closely with both contractors to see what the effects are and what we can do to assist and mitigate those.”

When asked if he was confident the project could stick to a spring delivery date, Mr Shaw added: “Without knowing what the impacts are it’s difficult to say. Once we know what the impacts are and know what we can do to mitigate them, we can get a greater degree of confidence on that delivery date.”

Carillion was a key supplier to the Government and has contracts in the rail industry, education and NHS.

Mr Brown insisted he was keen the project was not hit by substantial delays as is expected in some of Carillion’s other projects in the south.

He added: “My remaining concern is how it might impact on the supply chain.

“Much of the work that’s going on is through the official receiver appointed by the UK Government, but my officials are in touch with them on a regular basis. I understand people can be concerned.

“If you look at some of the other projects Carillion were involved in south of the border, they expect substantial delays.

“I’m very keen that shouldn’t happen here.

“The way we have constructed the contract means that the two remaining contractors have got a legal obligation to see the project through.

“But what you can’t legislate for is the impact it might have on the supply chain and that’s why we’re keen to iron out any problems with that.”

It was revealed 57 of the 63 staff employed by the collapsed firm had transferred to Balfour Beatty or Galliford Try.

But Mr Brown added the remaining workers were either intending to move on or on to other projects.

He added: “I’ve not come across anybody or been told about anybody that’s not managed to get new work and the vast bulk were taken on the next day by Balfour Beatty and Galliford Try.”

The SNP politician said last month he anticipated a spring opening date.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown on a visit to the AWPR near Aberdeen yesterday

When asked for an expected completion date, Mr Brown said he was “being as specific as I can be”.

He added: “I do have to work through with the contractors some of the issues – I mentioned the supply chain – to see there’s no impact from that.

“We know there are weather challenges here as well. I think I’m duty-bound not to give a date until I know a date, and I’ll know a date once we’ve had those discussions with the contractor – and I will let people know as soon as possible.”

Mr Brown said there were expectations that parts of the project could open sooner than the expected spring date.

He added: “I can’t be specific about that but our expectation and the contractors have said it may well be possible, as they have done already at Craibstone in Dyce and some other minor roads, to open parts of this in advance of the complete opening of the whole project.

“I know that local people, those that are old enough, have been arguing for this road for 50 years and I know people have been determined to get the Haudagain roundabout sorted as well.

“We will do these projects, we are the government that will deliver these and we will do them as soon as we possibly can.”