First Minister Alex Salmond today welcomed a Supreme Court ruling that will now allow the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) to proceed as a “just ruling” for the north east that will bring in billions to the local economy and create 14,000 jobs.
Mr Salmond said it was now time to “crack on and deliver” the project after ministers won a legal battle with protesters against the AWPR with a unanimous rejection of their appeal by Supreme Court justices. The decision brings to an end to the legal challenges available to the protesters.
The First Minister visited Aker Solutions in Aberdeen to announce that the AWPR will now be brought together with the Balmedie to Tipperty road scheme as a single construction project under one NPD contract, ensuring best value for money for the public purse.
He confirmed that work on the extended project would begin immediately, with prior information notices to be issued this week and drilling works to commence on site next month. The project will go to tender early next year, with works now expected to be completed by spring 2018.
The construction contract will stipulate that all job opportunities must be advertised through local job centres and all sub contracts to be tendered must be advertised on the Public Contracts Scotland web portal. As with other major contracts, minimum requirements will be set for apprentices, graduate trainees and jobs, securing wider benefits for the local community.
Mr Salmond said: “The decision by the Supreme Court is a just ruling for the north east of Scotland and an opportunity for Scotland that marks the end of five incredibly frustrating years for the vast majority of people who are behind this ambitious project.
“Over the next three decades, the AWPR and the Balmedie to Tipperty road schemes are expected to bring in an additional £6 billion to the local economy, creating around 14,000 new jobs. It is therefore crucial that we crack on and deliver these vital and frankly long overdue infrastructure projects.
“The minority who have held up the AWPR have had many days in court – not to mention a protracted public local inquiry – and they have lost on every occasion. Now that their challenge has come to an end, our focus is now to move on from these unwanted legal problems and make quick progress for the people of the north east – they have waited long enough.
“Work will now proceed apace, and I am delighted to announce that a prior information notice signalling the start of procurement for the project will be published in the coming days with investigative drilling set to begin on site next month. We anticipate that this long-awaited project will be underway in 2014 and complete by the spring of 2018.
“Quite clearly, these unwanted delays will result in a substantial increase in the overall cost of this project, but its value to the north east and wider Scottish economy is such that it must go ahead. Work will now begin to quantify the total project costs and we will update Parliament with revised figures as soon as possible.
“When it is finished, the AWPR/Balmedie-Tipperty project will bring economic, environmental and road safety benefits to the area as well as improving the integration of public transport and access to Aberdeen. The time for debate is over, let’s deliver a project for the people of the north east that will make us all proud.”
Matt Corbin, managing director of the subsea business within Aker Solutions, said:
“As one of the largest employers in the north-east of Scotland we have more than 2,300 people travelling to and from our offices in Dyce, Portlethen and the city centre. The AWPR will ensure better, faster and more efficient travel in the region.
“Not only by easing congestion in and around Aberdeen and improving road safety and access but by linking key locations such as outlying communities, the airport and major industrial areas, it will ensure the region’s economy can continue to flourish.”
Tom Smith, Chair of Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future, added:
“At long last, the work to make this road a reality can begin in earnest. On completion, the north-east of Scotland which has continued to perform well despite the economic challenges, will be better served with fit-for-purpose infrastructure.
“Delivery of the local development plans and key projects such as Energetica, as well as hot-spots such as the Haudagain and Dyce Drive all hinge on the AWPR. We will now start to see major advances on these as the road gets underway.
“In addition to the recognised significant economic benefits, a better road infrastructure means greatly improved conditions for drivers, with a road built for the purpose of bypassing the centre of Aberdeen. This will lead to fewer accidents on the rural roads used as alternatives to the gridlocked A90 at peak times and beyond, as well as a reduction in fuel costs and journey times which have cost the economy millions in the intervening years.”
The UK Supreme Court judgement can be read online here.