COUNCIL taxpayers in Edinburgh could be left with a £4.4 million bill for compensation claims over the new Forth Road Bridge unless the Scottish Government agrees to pick up the tab.
The potential claims – for noise, disturbance, vibration, smell and fumes – arise from construction contracts for approach roads to the new bridge.
The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (Feta) would normally have reimbursed the council for the costs of such claims. But Feta is being abolished and the job of maintaining and operating both the new and the existing crossing will be handed to a private company, while the government owns the structures.
The Scottish Government has agreed to cover about £600,000 costs still outstanding from road links associated with the crossing once Feta is disbanded. This includes £93,000 for compensation claims arising from the roadworks. But council officials fear the cost of outstanding claims could be much higher and, unless the Government agrees to cover the liabilities, the local authority could end up footing the bill.
In written evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s infrastructure committee, the council says: “To date, 180 such claims have been received with a combined value of approximately £4.4m. It is also possible that other outstanding costs may exceed the values currently estimated.
“The council would therefore seek a formal commitment that Scottish ministers will re-imburse all costs incurred by the council in connection with this contract following the dissolution of Feta.”
The new bridge is due to be completed in 2016 and will include a new 3.1km section of motorway and dual carriageway special road around the west and south of South Queensferry joining the A90 and M9 spur.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Transport Scotland and Feta officials meet regularly to discuss and review budgetary matters and Feta’s capital programme. We will respond to the points raised once we have had the opportunity to examine these in detail.”