Banff Harbour repairs contract scrapped by local authority
Aberdeenshire Council has cancelled a £1.3 million repairs contract for Banff Harbour amid a long-running dispute over the complexity and cost of the project.
Lochshell Ltd, which was appointed to carry out the upgrade at the port earlier this year, halted works at the site in June and again in August with the contractor warning that repairs may not be completed until next summer – and at more than twice the original budget.
According to the firm, the crumbling 17th-century port was in a worse condition than had been advertised.
Now the council is on the hunt for a replacement firm to carry out the badly-needed remedial work on the port’s dilapidated jetty and weakened east pier before the arrival of winter storms.
Council harbour chief Philip McKay told the Press & Journal: “We are now exploring all possible approaches towards the immediate resumption and timely completion of this important project.”
In a statement issued when it downed tools last moth, Lochshell claimed: “I am sure the famous civil engineer Thomas Telford, responsible for Banff harbour as one of jewels of the Scottish northern coastline, would be quaking in his grave at such damage to this historical listed structure without an appropriate design for repairs ready to be implemented.
“The contractor used leading survey techniques to present the site conditions, this should have been done by the client (Aberdeenshire Council) and these facts used to update the reality of the site conditions.
“The alarm bells are ringing already and then with the structure not repaired fully previously, or in advance of this contract, the voids in the structure allow significant volumes of water to enter the harbour and, even with substantial pumps running, make the working day challenging and restricted.”
Lochshell added: “Without the appropriate set of construction drawings the contractor and project are set to fail.
“It is the responsibility of Aberdeenshire Council as client to design and detail what it is that should be built – not the contractor.
“At this rate the project is on track to finish well over double the budget and may finish during 2022, somewhere between Easter and summer.
“This takes no account of the Scottish winter and weather conditions on this exposed site.”
An email sent to harbour users has stated: “We expect the physical works to recommence on site around the middle of this month.
“The primary focus of the works on site over the coming weeks will be to quickly and safely secure the main structural element of the east pier during the hopefully favourable weather window.
“At this time, we expect this phase of the works to be complete around the start of November.”
The email adds that further works will continue beyond then “if weather conditions permit”.