Queensferry Crossing: Scots firms losing out

SCOTTISH firms have won less than half the total value of contracts on the main part of the Queensferry Crossing project, triggering a new row over its impact on Scottish jobs.

The new Queensferry Crossing under construction at the South Queensferry side of the Forth. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor
The new Queensferry Crossing under construction at the South Queensferry side of the Forth. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor

Transport minister Keith Brown today sought to underline the benefits of the £1.4 billion scheme to the economy by visiting Irvine steel firm Millar-Callaghan.

However, this prompted Labour to renew its attack on the awarding of contracts for Scotland’s largest project for a generation, arguing that not enough of the work was going to firms north of the Border.

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Analysis by The Scotsman of official figures for the cross-Forth project’s £790 million principal contract showed that so far, 40 per cent of the total value of sub-contracts and supply orders had been won by Scottish firms.

This comprises 70 per cent of the value of supply orders - £72m - such as for materials, and nearly 30 per cent of the value of sub-contracts - £85m - such as for services like divers.

Overall, Scottish firms have secured £157m of the total £393m worth of such orders awarded so far.

So far, 80 per cent of such contracts have been let.

In addition, Scottish firm Morrison Construction is one of four partners in the Forth Crossing Bridge Constructors (FCBC) consortium which won the principal contract, and which is spending nearly half of its value - some £356m - in-house.

The Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency, which is in charge of the project, stressed that FCBC was responsible for awarding the contracts. Major steel contracts have gone to China and Spain.

Work won by Millar-Callaghan, such as staircases and platforms for the three bridge towers, accounts for one third of its order book.

Mr Brown said: “Millar-Callaghan is a fantastic example of the positive impact of the project for Scottish business.

“The nine purchase orders they have secured, worth £1.2 million, have helped them create 17 new jobs, including eight trainees, and provided a reputational platform for them to secure future work.

“The Forth Replacement Crossing [the project’s title] is vital to the economy of Scotland and is delivering significant economic benefits with over 1,000 people currently employed directly on site.”

But Labour infrastructure spokesman James Kelly said: “While Keith Brown trumpets the success of the new crossing in awarding contracts to Scottish firms, the reality is not enough of the total contracts let have gone to Scottish firms.

“The rest have gone overseas, which was a massive blow for our homegrown businesses.”

The cable-stay bridge, is being built beside the Forth Road Bridge between Edinburgh and Fife and due to open at the end of 2016.

It was ordered by ministers because of uncertainty about the life expectancy of the existing, 50-year-old bridge after corrosion weakened its main support cables.