GERMAN industrial giant Bilfinger, the main contractor for Edinburgh’s troubled trams project, has been named as part of one of the consortia bidding for the £650 million contract to build the long-awaited Aberdeen bypass.
The construction group has joined forces with Spanish group Cintra Infrastructures, one of the world’s largest transport development companies, to compete for the lucrative deal for the 28-mile Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR).
Bilfinger was part of the Highway Management Contractors consortium which won the order to design and build the extension to the M80 motorway which opened six months ahead of schedule in January 2011.
Keith Brown, Scotland’s Transport Minister, defended the inclusion of the German company on the short list. Mr Brown said: “Anybody who wins this bidding process has to win it on their merits and their track record.
“I am not going to go through all the travails of the trams project - as you know I never supported the trams project in the first place - and it was wasn’t organised by Transport Scotland.
“But from my point of view - regardless of the bidders - Transport Scotland have an excellent track record in dealing with these projects.”
He pointed out that the body had brought in both the M90 and the M74 improvement schemes ahead of schedule and budget.
Mr Brown, who announced the short list close to the route of the new bypass at Maryculter, said the choice of the four consortia represented an important milestone in the delivery of the project.
He said: “The benefits of the AWPR are clear, with the scheme expected to deliver 14,200 jobs in the North east and boosting the economy to the tune of £6 billion over the next 30 years.
“The AWPR will improve journey times, reduce congestion and help open up wider markets for the regionally and nationally important economy of the North-east delivering benefits of both local and national importance.”
Mr Brown also said that contributions from Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils would be capped at £75 million.
Mr Brown said: “The councils are quite keen, for their own budgeting proposes, to have that kind of certainty. They now know they won’t be asked for any more money than that £75 million.”
Councillor Willie Young, the finance spokesman for Aberdeen City Council, welcomed the announcement. He said: “We had called for a cap because we think it is important there is a cap and to be fair to the Minister he has responded to that and we are delighted.
Commenting on the inclusion of Bilfinger on the list of short listed bidders, Councillor Young said: “I think the most important thing is that, once Transport Scotland have a look at all of the bidders and take in the track record of everybody, the most important thing for us is the creation of local jobs within Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire in the contruction of the bypass.”
Councillor Martin Kitts-Hayes, the deputy leader of Aberdeenshire Council, said: “This is a milestone and it has been a long time getting to this stage. This project is absolutely critical for the future of the North east economy and we have to be able to move forward.”
Richard Baker, the North east MSP and Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, said: “The announcement of the short-list of bidders is to be welcomed as another step towards the day when we see shovels in the ground on the AWPR, and it is good to see these firms want to be part of delivering this vital project. But we need to have guarantees that work on the AWPR will benefit the local economy and support the creation of local jobs not only through the awarding of the main contract but through sub contracts too.”
The other consortia were named as Granite City (Macquarie Capital, Vialia), Scotia Roads Group (BAM PPP, Costain, Iridium, Sir Robert McAlpine Capital), and Connect Roads (Balfour Beatty Investments, Carillion Private Finance, Galliford Try).
The Scottish Government expects the contract to be awarded and work to start in 2014, with construction completed in 2018.