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Delays force renegotiation of Manchester airport contract

CONSTRUCTION DELAYS of up to seven months on Manchester airport's £172M second runway have forced a renegotiated agreement between the client and joint venture contractor Amec-Tarmac.

The new contractual deal, signed this week, commits the JV to a revised 'firm' completion date of May next year - four months later than planned. In return the airport will waive liquidated damages for late completion totalling £4M.

'We have given the contractor a more relaxed completion date but have not at present allowed any contractual extension of time,' said airport project manager Peter Dawson.

Wet weather has delayed a 2.4Mm3 earthworks programme to infill the 30m deep Bollin river valley. The work should have been finished last October but is still only 80% complete.

Accelerated construction will now include extensive mixing of quicklime with the clay infill to improve its stability against swelling and shrinkage. Earthworks have also been reprogrammed to allow follow-on runway pavement construction to start later this month.

Additional costs due to bad weather or difficult ground will have to be borne by the contractor under its £108M design and construct contract. But Amec-Tarmac project director Alan Roberts said it was claiming specific extensions of time for delays in gaining access to some parts of the site.

Meanwhile, the legal battle to evict protesters from National Trust land at the eastern end of the runway is continuing. The 12-strong group will this week seek leave to appeal to the House of Lords against eviction orders issued in October.

It could take a year before final permission is granted to remove the protesters, who are preventing the felling or pruning of 300 trees within the runway's eastern height restrictions.

But the airport authority is confident of opening the runway on the revised completion date.

'We can still gain permission to use the runway for all normal traffic,' said Dawson.

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