Contractors voluntarily halt work on Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route after pollution to nearby rivers

Don Crossing

Construction on a £745m bypass in Scotland has been delayed for a week due to fears over pollution to surrounding rivers.

Following heavy rain on Wednesday evening, investigators from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) found significant silt pollution in rivers near the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) bypass.

Work has subsequently been halted voluntarily by the contractors Aberdeen Roads Limited – a joint venture between Balfour Beatty, Carillion and Galliford Try – for a week while the pollution issue is monitored.

The rivers include protected spawning grounds for salmon and freshwater pearl mussels, which are designated as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) under the EU’s Habitats Directive.

In a statement Calum MacDonald, executive director of SEPA, said: “Due to the potential scale of pollution, Aberdeen Roads Limited has voluntarily halted construction work on the project.

“This will allow for AWPR contractors to provide assurance to SEPA, within seven days that adequate measures and monitoring are in place to protect against potential pollution.

He added that during this time, SEPA officers will “continue to inspect the entirety of the route to identify the sources and impact of pollution on the wider water environment”.

The project’s client, Transport Scotland, said it is supporting SEPA with the ongoing investigation.

Construction on the project – which, following lengthy legal delays, was approved nine years after it was first announced in 2003 – began in February 2015 and is expected to be completed in 2018.

Approved by ministers in late 2009, the cost of the scheme has swelled from an initial government estimate of between £295-395m to the £745m quoted by Transport Scotland.