Aberdeen

Joint venture AWPR partners offer jobs to Carillion workers

Carillion workers employed on the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) have been offered jobs by its joint venture partners Galliford Try and Balfour Beatty, according to Transport Scotland.

The three companies made up the Aberdeen Roads Limited consortium delivering the £550 million section of the AWPR between Balmedie and Tipperty before Carillion entered compulsory liquidation last week.

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said 76 Carillion staff will be offered employment to the remaining contractors to allow work to continue on the project.

The spokesperson said: “Aberdeen Roads Limited has confirmed there are 76 Carillion staff on the AWPR site and we understand that both Galliford Try and Balfour Beatty will offer jobs to allow progression of work on the project.

“The construction partners have reaffirmed their commitment to completing the works.”

Galliford Try revealed last week that the joint venture partners expect to foot a bill of between £60m-£80m to complete the work following Carillion’s demise.

The contractor said: “The terms of the contract are such that the remaining joint venture members, Balfour Beatty and Galliford Try, are obliged to complete the contract.  Our current estimate of the additional cash contribution outstanding from Carillion to complete the project is £60-80m, of which any shortfall will be funded equally between the joint venture members.

“The companies will discuss the position urgently with the official receiver of Carillion and Transport Scotland, to minimise any impact on the project.”

Balfour Beatty said the collapse of Carillion could lead to additional costs of £35m to £45m for the firm overall but did not disclose how much would of this was attributed to the AWPR project.

Meanwhile, Kier Group, which currently operates joint ventures involving Carillion on HS2 and the Highways England smart motorways programme, has revealed that all Carillion employees on these projects will be transferred to Kier.

Following discussions with the UK government and clients, Kier and Eiffage are now 50/50 partners in delivering two of the seven HS2 civil engineering projects.

All 51 Carillion staff, including apprentices, have been offered the chance to switch to the other two companies.

Another 150 Carillion workers on smart motorways schemes have also been offered jobs with Kier, which said it had also been talking with the project’s supply chain, “ensuring continuity of skills, resources and suppliers.”

Kier chief executive Haydn Mursell said: “We have been working collaboratively with our clients and are pleased to have reached agreement with government concerning these joint ventures. We have been able to take action quickly and reassure the project teams that they continue to play an important role in the delivery of these contracts.”

Economy secretary assures parliament over jobs and future of AWPR

Keith Brown on a visit to the AWPR site last year

Cabinet secretary for the economy, jobs and fair work, Keith Brown, has moved to reassure MSPs that disruption and job losses caused by Carillion’s collapse would be minimised in Scotland, though the minister stopped short of giving an opening date for the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR).

The UK’s second-biggest builder entered liquidation on Monday after racking up debt and pensions burdens of around £1.5 billion.

The firm formed one-third of the Aberdeen Roads Ltd (ARL) consortium leading the £745 million AWPR work alongside Balfour Beatty and Galliford Try.

In a topical question at Holyrood, Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin raised concern for jobs dependent upon the project and also the knock-on effect on smaller companies in the supply chain in the North East and throughout Scotland.

In response, Mr Brown said that support is available to any workers who may be concerned for their jobs, with help and advice to be made available to subcontractors through a designated Scottish Enterprise helpline.

Furthermore, the cabinet secretary assured parliament over the contract to deliver the AWPR scheme with the other firms involved in the consortium making clear that they will fulfil their contract obligations and had “very quickly” notified the London Stock Exchange of their intention. Mr Brown confirmed that Transport Scotland will support and work with them throughout this process.

The economy secretary said he was unable to give a “cast-iron guarantee” that jobs would not be lost as a result of the liquidation of the company, but said there was a “good chance” employees would continue to work on existing projects.

When asked about the future of Carillion employees working on the bypass, Mr Brown said: “I think it is likely that the two remaining contractors will require work to be done that was previously done by the employees of Carillion.

“I don’t want to be too definitive, but there’s around 70-plus employees, direct employees of Carillion, employed on that contract plus 190 employed on other terms, including some agency staff.

“We can’t give a cast iron guarantee on the workers but I think there is a good chance that many of those will be reemployed and for those that are not we have offered the assistance I have previously mentioned.”

On the day of Carillion’s collapse, the joint venture firms indicated that the announcement leaves a financial hole of £40-80m in the AWPR project.

Galliford Try said: “The terms of the contract are such that the remaining joint venture members, Balfour Beatty and Galliford Try, are obliged to complete the contract.  Our current estimate of the additional cash contribution outstanding from Carillion to complete the project is £60-80m, of which any shortfall will be funded equally between the joint venture members. The companies will discuss the position urgently with the official receiver of Carillion and Transport Scotland, to minimise any impact on the project.”

Mr Brown had said the Scottish Government’s Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE), which helps people facing redundancy, would be available for those under threat.

He said PACE would also be available if anyone should lose defence jobs.

Gillian Martin MSP said: “Our first thoughts when businesses face such serious difficulties should always be for those who may be facing uncertainty over their jobs and their future, and it was encouraging to see parliament united in support of them today.

“I am grateful to the cabinet secretary for the support being made available both to Carillion employees and to subcontractors who may have concerns at this time.

“Early confirmation from the other partners in the Aberdeen Roads consortium that they intend to press ahead and deliver the AWPR contract will be hugely reassuring for my constituents. I know people and businesses across the North East are looking forward to the opening of the much-needed £750 million new route this year, and I will be engaging with the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland going forward to ensure that remains on schedule.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish  Government has set up helplines for anyone who may be affected by the failure of the construction firm.

Scottish companies affected by the Carillion insolvency can call Scottish Enterprise on 0300 013 3385 or register their details here.

The redundancy helpline operated by Skills Development Scotland is 0800 917 8000, with help also available here.

It was also announced today that banks and government were working together to mitigate the effects of Carillion’s collapse on businesses within the supply chain.

Council rejects plan for 150-bedroom hotel in Aberdeen

Aberdeen International Business Park. Image courtesy of Abstract Securities.

Councillors have refused plans for a new hotel at Aberdeen International Business Park due to traffic concerns.

The Evening Express reports that Abstract (Cornwall) Ltd had lodged plans to build a 150-bedroom hotel at the business park on Dyce Drive in 2014.

It was part of phase two of proposals to create a “world class” office campus to attract global organisations from the oil and gas sector.

Planning permission in principle had been granted for the 90-acre scheme in November 2012.

However, Aberdeen City Council has refused the proposals after no progress was made on addressing transport problems with the application.

In a decision notice for the plans, development management manager for Aberdeen City Council Daniel Lewis said: “Despite several attempts at initiating dialogue on addressing the strategic transport impact of the development no progress has been made on this matter with the applicant.

“The supplementary guidance on transport and accessibility states that there will be a presumption against development that is likely to generate a significant number of new car trips, unless appropriate mitigation measures are put in place.

“No updated transport assessment has been provided to make this assessment; therefore the impact on the strategic transport network cannot be confirmed. Therefore the impact cannot be mitigated as required.”

University of Aberdeen lodges £35m science hub proposals

The view of the building from Bedford Road

Plans for a new £35 million Science Teaching Hub at the University of Aberdeen have moved forward with the formal submission of a planning application.

Featuring cutting edge facilities and flexible teaching laboratory space, it is hoped the new facility will transform the learning experience for thousands of students and encourage school children to get involved in science subjects.

How the proposed hub looks from St Machar Drive

The building, which will be situated just off St Machar Drive near the Fraser Noble building, student Hub and Sir Duncan Rice Library, has been designed by Reiach and Hall Architects to encourage collaboration between students from different disciplines.

Consultations were held by the University throughout September and November after the proposals were first unveiled.

The plans have also been shown to Old Aberdeen Community Council, which covers the area where the University of Aberdeen is situated.

The view from St Machar Drive towards the library

Prior to the public consultations, Professor Sir Ian Diamond, principal and vice-chancellor of the University, said: “We are extremely excited about this new science teaching hub and the benefits it will bring to our students.”

If the proposals are accepted, the University hopes the building will be open and available for teaching in 2021.

Tribunal rules against Aberdeen quarry visitor centre plans

Plans for the heritage centre were designed by Halliday Fraser Munro

Plans to create a heritage centre at Rubislaw Quarry in Aberdeen have suffered a setback after a tribunal denied the application.

Businessman Hugh Black wants to transform parts of the flooded quarry into a £6 million heritage centre and tourist attraction celebrating Aberdeen’s granite history.

A five-day Lands Tribunal for Scotland hearing was held last November into the application to vary title conditions at the site to allow the project to go ahead.

However, in a report which it is understood will be published today, the application has been denied, casting doubt on the future of the project.

Mr Black has six weeks in which to lodge an appeal at the Court of Session.

The businessman said he was “shocked” and would be seeking further legal advice.

Carttera’s rival plans for Rubislaw Quarry

Rival developers Carttera, who hope to build a £68m, up to 10-storey high development on the northern edge of the quarry including 300 flats, a gym and more, welcomed the decision.

The Toronto-based company’s founder Jim Tadeson said he felt “gratified” by the news.

Carttera’s proposals for the quarry also feature a “heritage bistro” which is planned to host a permanent exhibition detailing the history of Rubislaw Quarry, which gave Aberdeen its Granite City nickname.

A spokesman for the Lands Tribunal for Scotland said: “It was a big decision, in that it was a five day hearing, to do with an application to vary a title condition that affected the quarry and on the face of it prohibited a granite heritage centre that the applicants wanted to build.

“Mr Black was applying for the decision, and that outcome has not gone in his favour.”

Aberdeen bypass contractor fined over river pollution

SEPA chief executive Terry A’Hearn

The consortium building the new Aberdeen bypass has been issued with a £280,000 penalty for a series of silt pollution incidents on the rivers Don and Dee.

Aberdeen Roads Limited, a joint venture including Balfour BeattyMorrison Construction and Carillion, was deemed responsible for the incidents on the important salmon rivers along with some tributaries.

The case if the first major enforcement of new powers by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and will see over £280,000 committed to community projects and environmental improvements across Aberdeenshire.

Following extensive investigations and enforcement action by SEPA between 2015 and 2017, the Construction Joint Venture (CJV) building the multi-million pound Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) have offered the funding in an Offer of Enforcement Undertaking, after causing a series of silt pollution incidents which affected the Aberdeenshire rivers.

The Enforcement Undertaking admits full liability by the AWPR B-T Construction Joint Venture (CJV) for the pollution and will result in the funding being divided between eight community initiatives as a penalty for the disruption and environmental impact.

The offer, which required the Construction Joint Venture to engage with local stakeholders, has been formally accepted by SEPA, thus securing one of the biggest financial outcomes for an environmental offence in Scotland.  It is only the fourth of its kind to be accepted by SEPA.

Granted as a new enforcement power in June 2016, an Enforcement Undertaking represents a formal offer by an organisation or individual to make amends for an offence by improving the environment or communities affected, using their own resources.

The new enforcement power can be used to bring about effective and immediate solutions to environmental offences and requires the offender to work with SEPA to ensure ongoing compliance in future, as well as making appropriate restitution.

SEPA chief executive, Terry A’Hearn, said: “Every day SEPA works to protect and enhance Scotland’s environment and we will respond robustly to organisations who fail to comply with environmental controls. Every operator must comply.

“It’s right that the Construction Joint Venture should offer this significant enforcement undertaking in recognition of the environmental impact of their actions, which resulted in a series of silt pollution incidents impacting numerous tributaries to Aberdeenshire rivers, the Dee and the Don.

“We are delighted that CJV has become one of the first operators to use the new enforcement undertaking.  The CJV has stepped forward, accepted responsibility and set out to put things right.

“An enforcement undertaking not only compels those who breach the law to make amends, it instils a more positive working relationship based on understanding the duty we all share in safeguarding our natural environment.”

 

Aberdeen Roads Limited is constructing the new 36-mile road which will provide a fast link between towns between the North, South and West of Aberdeen.

The project is being delivered by Transport Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government and in partnership with Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council.

The silt pollution was caused by heavy rainfall which led to muddy water running off the construction site into waterways.

An enforcement notice was issued to contractors last year after concerns were raised at the time about the impact it could have on salmon and freshwater pearl mussels.

Transport Scotland said: “We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously and have been working closely with SEPA and the contractor, Aberdeen Roads Ltd (ARL), to ensure the watercourses on site are protected from construction activities.

“We welcome any measures that have been agreed between SEPA and ARL where they result in a positive impact on the environment.”

The biggest beneficiary of the undertaking is the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board, which will receive £112,500 for improvement projects relating to diffuse pollution, and £37,500 to fund an agricultural officer for two years to assist farm owners in reducing diffuse pollution in the River Don.

Richard Gledson, chairman, Dee District Salmon Fisheries Board, added: “Silt pollution from the construction of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route gave us great cause for concern, particularly as the River Dee is designated as a special habitat for both salmonid fish and fresh water pearl mussels, which rely on a delicate eco-system to feed and spawn.

“We welcome both the immediate response by SEPA, including the temporary restriction of construction activity, their investigation, and today’s enforcement undertaking. This will provide for environmental improvements that will go some way to offsetting the impact on local communities and the environment.”

In addition to the funding for community and environmental benefits, SEPA will also recover £47,958 as part of the offer. This lump sum will be made by the CJV as a contribution towards the time spent investigating the various pollution incidents which resulted from their construction works.

Hillcrest and Robertson to deliver new Aberdeen affordable homes

Hillcrest Housing Association and Robertson Partnership Homes have teamed up to deliver the much needed gift of affordable housing this Christmas.

The development of 138 homes at St Machar Road in Aberdeen is funded through a Scottish Government grant totalling £9,574,100.

David Zwirlein, Hillcrest’s director of development and new business, said: “We’re delighted to be on site just in time for Christmas to get started on this much needed development in Aberdeen.

“In partnership with Robertson Partnership Homes, we will deliver 138 homes at affordable rents by June 2021. Aberdeen has long had a shortage of affordable housing and a development on this scale will have a huge impact on the area.

“Phase one of this development will see us deliver 103 homes for social rent and 35 for mid-market rent.”

Stewart Shearer, managing director of Robertson Partnership Homes, said: “The new homes at St Machar Road are part of an ambitious development that will result in a number of high quality accommodation options that will help address significant demand in Aberdeen.

“The investment is not only transformational for the area and the local community, but also offers significant opportunities for the local supply chain.”

Amendments made to Union Terrace Gardens designs

Union Terrace Gardens_Rosemount ViaductLDA Design has submitted a raft of refinements to its Union Terrace Gardens proposals following feedback from the public.

The latest plans include a realignment of a proposed new walkway, linking Union Street to the Gardens, to reduce the potential impact on any future development of the adjacent railway line.

Steps have also been taken to provide further protection of the views and setting of the Robert Burns and Edward VII statues through redesign of the proposed buildings nearby.

The scheme refinements are in response to representations made about the detailed planning application submitted earlier this year. LDA Design has also been liaising with Historic Environment Scotland on developing the scheme.

Union Terrace Gardens_refinementsLDA Design, which is working alongside Stallan-Brand on the project, said its imaginative revamp of Aberdeen’s sunken Victorian Gardens respects the unique character and history of this heart-of-the-city space, whilst aiming to make it more social and more usable.

Director Kirstin Taylor, who is leading the project, said: “There’s so much beauty and charm in the Gardens. These amended plans get us even closer to capturing this and enhancing the existing heritage, enabling us to better balance traditional park enjoyment with new ideas and uses.

“We are working closely with all parties to make sure Union Terrace Gardens is a wonderful asset for the city for generations to come, a place where people belong.”

The amendment ensures the agreed six key design principles continue to be met: A preserved and enhanced green space; new and improved facilities; celebrating the heritage; creation of flexible events spaces; accessible Gardens for all; a safe and active space.
It is hoped that planning approval can be obtained as early as February.

Aberdeen Art Gallery revamp delayed by an extra year

Aberdeen Art GalleryConstruction work on the £30 million redevelopment of Aberdeen Art Gallery is to take at least a year longer than scheduled, it has been revealed today.

The revamp of the building, which McLaughlin and Harvey began back in 2015, was scheduled to be completed in late 2017.

But Aberdeen City Council today said it now won’t be completed until late 2018 or early 2019.

The reason for the delay has not been disclosed but the Aberdeen Evening News has reported that it understands the project is facing a significant financial overspend.

Aberdeen City Council said: “Contractors responsible for the project are in ongoing discussions with Aberdeen City Council to confirm a completion date for the project, with the Gallery now expected to reopen in late 2018 or early 2019.

A report to the council’s finance, policy and resources committee next month will outline the revised schedule plus “provide further detail on the issues which have led to the extension of the programme and potential budget implications”.

Councillor Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council’s culture lead, said: “High level discussions with the main contractor for the Aberdeen Art Gallery redevelopment, McLaughlin and Harvey, are ongoing to finalise a revised schedule for the project.

“Current indications are that the contractor will conclude work on site in the first quarter of 2018. Following the handover from the main contractor a further fit out programme is required before the collections can be returned and the building is prepared for opening to the public.

“The final schedule is subject to the ongoing discussions but it is anticipated opening will be delayed until late 2018 or early 2019.

“This is an important project for Aberdeen and it is imperative that what will be a lasting legacy for the city is completed to the exacting standards required for a development of this significance – but a delay of this nature is unacceptable.

“It is important the issues with the delivery of the project are fully examined and acted upon.

“Measures have already been taken, with the appointment of specialist project manager Faithful+Gould to represent the council in negotiations with the contractor.

“With any building of this age and complexity there will always be complications which can impact on the programme, and that has been the case with Aberdeen Art Gallery.

“However, we are in discussions with the contractor regarding the circumstances of the extension to the programme.”

Aberdeen FC stadium decision delayed for fresh consultation

Aberdeen FC stadium Kingsford 2The fate of Aberdeen Football Club’s new stadium at Kingsford will not be decided until the New Year after a second public consultation was announced on the £50 million proposals.

The club, which wants to replace Pittodrie with a 20,000-seat ground near Westhill, withdrew the proposals last month just days before it was due to be considered by Aberdeen City Council.

Now a second public consultation is to be launched after new information and documents were submitted by the club.

The fresh consultation will involve the renotification of neighbours, re-advertising the application, consulting the relevant external bodies and council services, all of which will occur during the middle of next week.

Aberdeen FC stadium KingsfordThe closing date for written representations to be submitted to the council will be December 12 with a hearing scheduled for January 17.

Raymond Edgar, project director for Kingsford, said: “While we had been hoping for a decision on our application before Christmas, we now have an agreed timetable with the council which will allow the proposals to be fully considered by councillors in January.

“Following the deferral in October, we have worked with the council planning officers to provide further reassurance that the club’s approach to selecting Kingsford complies with legal requirements.

“In addition, we have undeniably demonstrated there are no other suitable, available and sequentially preferable sites within the city which could accommodate the development.

“While the club recognises that the delay has been frustrating for all those who continue to back our plans, it’s vital that we have the best chance of securing the right decision.”