The civils industry has warned of further job losses in Scotland if construction of the long-awaited £395 million Aberdeen bypass is delayed by a fresh legal challenge.
Fears are growing that the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route could be held up for as long as two years after a local campaign group this week said it would request a judicial review of the scheme.
Civil Engineering Contractors Association Scottish chief executive Alan Watt said: “Any delay to the AWPR would be a hugely unwelcome and damaging twist in this long running saga.
“The AWPR is the natural follow-on project for Scotland’s road builders to the M74 completion and M80 upgrade, which are due to complete in the spring and autumn of next year respectively.
“Without this project, Scotland’s civil engineering sector will face the real prospect of further downsizing on top of the 15 per cent loss of jobs already caused by the recession over the past year.”
The Scottish government approved plans for the 46 km AWPR dual carriageway - which would provide a link between towns in the north, south and west of the city, as well as the airport - in December.
But Road Sense chairman William Walton said the group had received legal advice that it had “substantial grounds” on which to challenge the Scottish government’s approval of the project, including the “limited
scope and remit” of the 2008 public local inquiry.
Mr Walton said the group had instructed its lawyers to lodge papers in the Court of Session in Edinburgh requesting a judicial review. Finance secretary John Swinney said the project was “complex” and there had been
“a wide range of issues to consider [and] clear arguments on both sides”.
The bypass - which was first proposed in 2002 - would run from Blackdog to Charleston via Milltimber, with a fast-link down to Stonehaven.
Transport Scotland had previously said that, subject to completing the necessary statutory process, it hoped to procure a contractor over the coming year.
Construction was then meant to begin on the scheme next year. A spokesman said that while Transport Scotland was yet to receive any papers regarding the legal challenge, it would “consider the terms of any such challenge
should one be made”.
The M74 completion work is being carried out by a joint venture comprising Balfour Beatty, Morgan Est, Morrison
Construction and Sir Robert McAlpine, while the M80 upgrade is being conducted by a consortium of Bilfinger Berger, John Graham and Northstone.