Major contractors could fight it out for a £400 million Aberdeen roads scheme which is set to progress after years of delays.
The Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route had been held up by a public inquiry and legal challenge, but a judge has ruled against appellants - including campaign group Road Sense - who now have three weeks to lodge an appeal.
The 28-mile AWPR is to be procured by Transport Scotland alongside the A90 Balmedie to Tipperty project in a combined model form of contract which caps private-sector profits.
A source close to the scheme told CN that discussions have been ongoing about sourcing funding and that the backers are confident that the money will be found to progress the scheme.
The bypass was originally given the go-ahead in December 2009 following a public inquiry and has been hailed as having the potential to unlock new road improvement schemes, Housing and could help to facilitate Aberdeen FC’s move to a new £38m stadium at Loirston Loch.
Further schemes that could be progressed as a result include: Two new Aberdeen park and ride facilities on the A90 and A96; £15-30m improvements to the Haudagain roundabout and Third Don (River) Crossing; and a new £14m link road connecting the A90 North Anderson Drive with the A96 Auchmill Road.
A second source told CN: “This could seriously help what is a potentially depressed construction sector. I would expect the likes of Morgan Sindall, Balfour Beatty and Sir Robert McAlpine to be looking at this as something they would want to sink their teeth into.”
Both Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire councils, who have to commit funding to the scheme, have reiterated their commitment to the project.
The scheme, the cost of which could be revised upwards as it has been so long in the pipeline, could also provide greater access to Donald Trump’s proposed £750m golf resort.
Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future board member and developer Stewart Milne said: “Such a major investment in infrastructure may seem to be at odds with our aim for a balanced provision of transport modes.
“However, it must be remembered that the lack of investment in road infrastructure over many years means that this strategic project, which should have been in place years ago, is still very much needed. It is also important to recognise the impact it will have on other transport solutions.”
Aberdeen City and Shire transport partnership Nestrans director Derick Murray said: “We are hugely relieved this decision has come and we would like to see construction start as soon as possible.”
Transport Minister Keith Brown said: “We welcome the Court of Session judgment in relation to the appeals against the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route.
“The Scottish Government remain totally committed to the AWPR being completed as soon as possible and we are pleased we can now move forward with this project which is vital to the future prosperity of the North-east and Scotland as a whole.
“We will now look closely at the remaining stages of the project, including procurement, to ensure we are in a position to proceed as efficiently and quickly as possible.”
Civil Engineering Contractors Association Scotland chief executive Alan Watt said: “Scotland’s contractors have warmly welcomed this major step forward.
“Not only will the AWPR provide a natural follow-on construction project to Transport Scotland’s successful M74 completion and M80 upgrades but also because this link will open up huge market and development opportunities for North East Scotland - the sooner it goes out to tender the better.”