– in the Scottish Parliament on 23rd January 2019.
9. To ask the Scottish Government what its initial assessment is of the impact of the Aberdeen western peripheral route on north-east transport. (S5O-02797)
Transport Scotland will undertake an evaluation of the AWPR project, in line with the Scottish trunk road infrastructure project evaluation guidance, against both the transport planning objectives and wider evaluation criteria. The evaluation will consider the impact of the scheme by comparing conditions in year 1, year 3 and year 5 after opening with forecasts made during scheme design and development.
The cabinet secretary will be pleased to note that we are already seeing a significant reduction in heavy goods vehicles traffic in the Peterculter and Torry parts of my constituency and in Market Street in Aberdeen city centre, which has had unacceptable pollution and emissions levels. When will those next be measured, so that we can see the environmental as well as economic benefits of the Government’s delivery of the AWPR?
I am pleased to hear that Maureen Watt’s constituents are already seeing the benefits on the ground of that scheme. The feedback that I have received certainly reflects that.
The Government’s project evaluation will include consideration of the impact of the AWPR against a number of criteria, which will include economic, safety and environmental matters. The local authority has a responsibility to consider issues that relate to local air quality monitoring, and to report periodically on the Aberdeen air quality management areas as to the levels in areas where there has been monitoring.
Air quality monitoring at a local level will be undertaken by the local authority, but I can assure Maureen Watt that we will continue to work with Aberdeen City Council to progress the introduction of a low-emission zone in the city by 2020. That is in line with our programme for government commitment to help to improve air quality in our city centres because of its potential impact on individuals who may have preconditions that are related to problems that are associated with taking in contaminated air.
Can the cabinet secretary update Parliament on when this delayed project will be fully open to traffic, and, for the record, what the total estimated cost of the project will be?
The member will welcome the fact that 85 per cent of the road has now opened and that the north-east economy is getting the benefits of that. The contractors have advised that they have completed the remedial work on the crossing over the River Don. They have still to provide assurances about the remedial work that has been undertaken and the enhanced monitoring arrangements that are being put in place for that. Once they provide that information, it will be passed to Transport Scotland, which will then consider it in relation to the opening of the final section of the road.
The cost still stands at £745 million, as was set out in the contract. The member will recognise that the contractors have stated that they have made a claim, which is not unusual for a major infrastructure project of this nature. As I have made clear, any claim has to be substantiated and evidence based. To date, the contractors have not provided evidence to substantiate any claim. Therefore, the present financial cost still stands.
We must now move on to the next item. I apologise to Gail Ross for not reaching her question.