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M74 to be retendered

Environmentalists' failed court appeal delays motorway extension and adds to cost

A DELAYED £500 million motorway extension project in Glasgow is set to be completely retendered after a legal battle with environmentalists left the scheme two years behind schedule.

Laing O'Rourke, a consortium of Sir Robert McAlpine, Vinci and Morgan Est and a Balfour Beatty/Morrison tie-up originally bid for the deal to extend the M74, linking East Glasgow to the M8 at Kingston Bridge, in the west of Scotland.

A source at Morrison said: 'The M74 extension was something we prequalified for several years ago.

'We now understand that the whole process of prequalifying and tendering will start again from scratch.

'We have not heard directly from the client as to when this will start again but we should imagine the same teams will be getting involved.' Balfour Beatty has already indicated that it will look at the job again when it is released on the Official Journal in the autumn.

A spokeswoman for Transport Scotland, the agency that implements Scottish Executive policy, said the deal, which was originally tendered as three separate contracts, will be rolled up into one multi-million pound job.

She said: 'The value for the whole thing is set to be around £500 million and it will be let as one main contract.' Plans to extend the M74 in Scotland have experienced a long and chequered history.

It was originally given the goahead in March 2005 before an appeal was launched by Friends of the Earth Scotland.

The group claimed that the road would cause environmental damage and 'rip out the hearts of communities'.

The appeal was dropped last Wednesday at the Court of Session in Edinburgh. The legal challenge has added a further £20 million to the costs of the scheme.

A spokeswoman for Transport Scotland said that initial construction works were set to start in winter 2007, with completion anticipated by the end of 2010.