FETA ahead of the game

I take exception to the allegation from Councillors William Walker and Martyn Day that the Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) delayed in responding to corrosion in the main cables of the Forth Road Bridge (Business, 28 November).

In fact, FETA's response to this problem has been nothing short of exemplary. To suggest otherwise is disingenuous in the extreme.

Because FETA was a participant in the international working group that drew up the first-ever code of practice for cable inspection, work at the Forth had commenced on site before the draft guidelines were even published.

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Indeed, only last year an independent audit conducted by Flint & Neill Partnership acknowledged that FETA's corrosion investigation "was not prompted by the discovery of any concerns with the Forth [Road] Bridge cables but as a prudent response to the result of findings in the US".

We've already installed listening devices to monitor for new wire breaks; we're pressing ahead with a study into replacing the cable should this become necessary and we are now installing a dehumidification system to fight the corrosion.

As a direct result of our industry-leading work, the Severn Bridge has now carried out its own investigation and discovered worse corrosion.

The Humber is about to follow suit. Several bridges in the US and Sweden are experiencing similar problems.

Cllr Day, as a member of the FETA board, should know better. I am also baffled and concerned by his assertion that FETA is a quango accountable only to ministers - perhaps he doesn't understand his role as a locally elected representative.

The truth is FETA is ahead of the game compared to other bridge operators, and for this the bridgemaster and his team deserve a huge amount of credit.

(CLLR) TONY MARTIN, Convener, Forth Estuary Transport Authority, South Queensferry, West Lothian

With reference to your article by Martin Day and William Walker, councillors for West Lothian and Fife Councils, while I respect the two authors' right to their opinions on the new Forth crossing, I would like to correct a few factual inaccuracies.

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SESTRAN is referred to as a quango. This is incorrect. SESTRAN is a statutory transport partnership, set up under the Transport (Scotland) Act 2005 and, as such, is a statutory authority.

SESTRAN has not "subcontracted a dripping roast" for consultants to look on the Forth crossing. Since it was established in 2005, SESTRAN has not spent a single penny on studies of the Forth crossing, preferring to leave the study of a national asset to national agencies.

These are both facts of which Cllr Day should be well aware as elected members delegate to the SESTRAN statutory partnership.

The 2005 report referred to was commissioned jointly by the then Scottish Executive, FETA and SESTRANS (the former voluntary partnership, of which both Fife and West Lothian Councils were members).

(CLLR) RUSSELL IMRIE, Chairman, SESTRAN, McDonald Road, Edinburgh