The Scottish government has recently revealed that the Aberdeen bypass will now cost £306 million more than previously estimated. The bypass – Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) – will stretch 30 miles. It was approved by ministers in 2009 after a public consultation, but RoadSense claimed the consultation was flawed and challenged the construction. Following a Supreme Court ruling earlier this month, the route has been approved to go ahead. However, now it will cost £653 million instead of £347 million.
Transport Minister Keith Brown says that the unexpected delays from the legal challenges and protracted public local inquiry have meant the cost of the project has significantly increased overall. The AWPR was estimated to cost £347 million in 2008, based on prices in 2003. The revised cost of the route after scope changes, re-basing to prices for this year and the inclusion of standard risk costs will total £653 million. Inflation alone raised the cost by £230 million.
Aside from this, it was also revealed that dualling the A90 between Tipperty north of Aberdeen and Balmedie, which will link with the AWPR, will cost another £92 million. This means the entire project is estimated to cost £745 million now. First Minister Alex Salmond has said that work will start on the AWPR next month, and they expect it to be completed by 2018.
The revised cost was revealed in reply to a Parliamentary Question issued by Kevin Stewart MSP, who attacked RoadSense for their legal challenges against the project. Stewart said that people in the northeast and throughout Scotland shouldn’t doubt that the group’s leader, William Walton, is the £230 million man. These numbers show how heavy a price he and his group have imposed on taxpayers. Not only has a vital piece of infrastructure been delayed for no reason, but inflation has increased costs while the group repeatedly took the route to court.
Stewart added that he welcomes the commitment the government has made to the AWPR. This is an investment into the northeast’s economy and a vote of confidence in the future success of the area. It will make a significant difference, but it’s ridiculous that they have been forced to watch as RoadSense used a series of failed legal challenges to increase costs. That strategy was totally pessimistic, and taxpayers will certainly be furious that they are ending up with the extra burden.
The government is paying 81% of Northern and Southern Leg sections of the AWPR, and Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire councils are each contributing 9.5%. The Fastlink section of the route and the project between Tipperty and Balmedic will be completely paid for by the government.
Jim Gifford, the leader of Aberdeenshire Council, said that they had always expected the cost of the AWPR to be more than the initial estimate, which was based on 2003 figures. Now the sum is almost ten years out of date. This is one of the biggest projects in recent decades for the North East of Scotland, and one that the council sees as vital for the future prosperity of the area. They are committed to the project becoming a reality as soon as possible. On the subject of financial contribution, he added that the council will continue exploring several options and is confident it will be able to secure the funding needed.