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Aberdeen Bypass “on time and on budget” promises John Swinney

Deputy First Minister John Swinney
Deputy First Minister John Swinney

The Aberdeen by-pass will go ahead “on time and on budget” despite the Scottish Government taking on the financial risks of the major project.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney made the comments following the Office of National Statistics (ONS) ruling that the £745million Aberdeen Western

Peripheral Route (AWPR) should be on the Scottish Government’s balance sheet.

Previously, it had been classed as a private sector project but the ONS has decided that the government bears the majority of the “risk and reward” related to the scheme.

Mr Swinney said the change had not impact on the cost or delivery timetable of the AWPR or the two NHS projects that the ONS has also indicated it will review.

He said: “We fully expect these projects to be completed on time and on budget – as they are currently on track to do.”

Transport Scotland images of the A90 dualling north of Aberdeen
Transport Scotland images of the A90 dualling north of Aberdeen

However, last night Labour finance spokeswoman Jackie Baillie MSP claimed the ONS ruling had dealt a “hammer blow” to the Scottish Government’s entire investment strategy.

The ONS also deemed the AWPR will be a “non-market producer” once completed, meaning any profit will be returned to the Scottish Government.

The classification was reviewed following a change in European statistical standards.

When asked to explain the change in the Scottish Parliament, the deputy first minister said the government will now review the terms of the contract with a view to persuading the ONS to revert the classification back to the private sector.

The deputy first minister has also promised to keep parliament updated on the progress of any review in the coming months.

He said: “This decision published by ONS today, means we need to give further consideration to the contractual arrangements that apply to the AWPR, with a view to securing a private sector classification.”

The first phase of blasting and rock drilling on the route is well under way – helping the construction team lower the ground to the new road level – and is expected to continue for about 13 weeks.

Two other projects funded the same way as AWPR are now subject to a similar ONS review.

They are the Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary and the Edinburgh Royal Hospital for Sick Children – the government has stressed these will also be built on time and in budget.

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