Spending on bypass capped at £75 million

Aberdeenshire Council will not have to pay more than £75m for the Aberdeen bypass, Transport Minister Keith Brown has said.

He said the two councils responsible for the road, Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, would have the amount they pay towards the total £745m cost of the bypass, and A90 upgrade between Balmedie and Tipperty, capped.

It means the Scottish government will pay 81% and the councils 9.5% each.

The Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) was given the green light by Scottish ministers in 2009 but it has been delayed by legal action. Work is expected to begin in 2014.

Mr Brown made the funding announcement as he unveiled the shortlist of bidders for the contract.

Four consortia will compete: Granite City, North East Roads Partnership, Scotia Roads Group and Connect Roads.

Mr Brown said: “The benefits of the AWPR and Balmedie are clear, with the scheme expected to deliver 14,200 jobs in the north east and boosting the economy to the tune of £6bn over the next 30 years.

“After years of delay, we should not underplay the need to ensure the pace in delivering this vital project continues.”

The A90 scheme will see the busy stretch between Balmedie and Tipperty in Aberdeenshire become a dual carriageway.

It will provide continuous dual carriageway between Aberdeen and Ellon, aimed at improved safety and faster journey times.

Commenting on the proposal from the Scottish Government to cap the costs of the Bypass, Richard Baker North East MSP and Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities described it as “small comfort”.

He said: “A cap of £75m for each Council for the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route is small comfort, given their original contribution was intended to be in the region of 9.5% each on only £395m in 2008, and previous to that even less.

“Our councils are being asked to pay far more towards this project than other local authorities are for projects of national significance in their areas, and I call again on the Scottish Government to review its decision on the contribution our authorities must make.

“I have also asked for the Scottish Government to review its costs for this scheme as they have increased so much. We have to ask why the Scottish Government should be focussed on two goals – making progress with this bypass as soon as possible, and also securing Best Value for the taxpayer and North East Council tax payers.”

Aberdeenshire Council’s deputy leader, Martin Kitts-Hayes, said that although it was a cost the local authority would prefer was met by the government, a deal had been agreed a decade ago.

He added: “It’s a lot of money, we would much prefer the Scottish government to pay the £75m but we did agree back in 2003 that each of the councils would pay the 9%.

“Clearly at that time we were talking somewhere in the region of £30-32m so £75m is a lot of money to find, particularly in these difficult economic times, but Aberdeenshire Council is absolutely committed to the AWPR and we have already put £10m aside as part of that and we are borrowing up to £70m so we are confident that we will be able to find the money to make sure this happens and without that impacting on the services we provide to our council taxpayers.’’