NICOLA Sturgeon was yesterday given a close up view of the new Forth Bridge taking shape as she met with workers on the biggest building project in Scotland in a generation.
• Huge sections of new bridge craned out onto Beamer Rock from Rosyth as first part of central tower structure put in place
• Nicola Sturgeon: Project supports 1200 construction jobs and 300 Scottish firms have won contracts - but Labour say ‘lost opportunity’ for local companies
• Scottish Government say project remains ‘on schedule and on budget’ to open in four years time
Huge sections of the bridge were craned out on to Beamer Rock in the middle of Forth from Rosyth dockyard, as part of work on the foundation for the crossing’s central tower. It is the first part of the central tower structure to be put in place.
Engineers have described it as a key stage of the building project, as any mistakes could have huge consequences.
Ms Sturgeon said the project now supports 1200 construction jobs and 300 Scottish firms have won contracts, But Labour say the project has been a “lost opportunity” for local companies.
The new bridge is being built due to corrosion on the cables of the original road crossing and is meant to be completed by 2016.
Ms Sturgeon said: “It was a privilege to visit the biggest transport infrastructure project in Scotland for a generation at such an exciting landmark moment. We have around 1,200 people working on the project site, which doesn’t include the significant number of people working for the 300-plus Scottish firms working in the subcontracting and supply chain for the project. This is clear evidence that the project is creating jobs for Scotland and benefitting the local and national economy.
“I was delighted to meet some of the young people employed by Scottish firms working on such a crucial phase of the project.”
But Labour infrastructure spokesman Richard Baker described the project as a “missed opportunity” for Scottish firms.
“This is the biggest capital investment in Scottish history and could have been of much greater benefit in kick starting the Scottish economy,” he said.
“But instead the major contracts went to firms overseas when they could have gone to Scottish-based businesses. When £4 in every £5 of the £174 million worth of the contacts for the Forth Replacement Crossing has gone to non-Scottish firms, any SNP claims that this project will leave a lasting legacy of Scottish jobs just seems insulting.” The lighthouse on Beamer Rock was removed last year so that the ground can be used as a foundation for one of the towers.
The Scottish Government say the project remains “on schedule and on budget”.
Ms Sturgeon added: “We are only a quarter of the way into a six-year construction period so there are many more opportunities to come for the local and national economy. The supply orders and subcontracts are commercial matters for the Contractors, but the latest progress report shows Scottish firms are certainly benefitting from the project – and in huge numbers.”
The bridge will mean an annual average of at least 90 vocational training places and positions for the long-term unemployed during every year of construction, as well as providing scope to maximise Modern Apprenticeship opportunities.
It emerged earlier this year that the public will be allowed to vote for the name of the new Forth crossing, Transport Minister Keith Brown revealed in January that the the process to choose the name will see an advisory panel choose a shortlist, with the vote in 2013.
If work to repair the corroding cables on the existing bridge is a success, it is expected it will become a dedicated public transport bridge, with the new crossing taking all other traffic.