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Severe delays in building new ferry pier force £300,000 refurbishment of original

DELAYS IN constructing a new ferry pier project in the north of Scotland have forced the Scottish Executive to fund £300,000 of improvements to an old pier to keep the ferry running.

Contractor Mowlem was due to finish the £19M Scrabster pier last August to enable a new NorthLink ship to begin a service connecting the Orkney Islands with Scotland (European Foundations Summer 2002).

But the project to build the sheet and tubular pile combi-wall has been dogged with delays, which the contractor is believed to be blaming on unforeseen ground conditions and damage from winter storms.

The pier consists of sheet piles driven between tubular steel piles retaining granular fill material.

The site is prone to heavy swells and is exposed to severe weather.

Storm fears prompted construction of a cross-wall to retain fill in the part-completed pier, but this was not finished before savage storms struck at the end of January.

Mowlem and consultant Babtie have now had to repair piles wrecked by storms that washed fill from behind a cofferdam into the sea.

Project sources said wave energy 'unzipped' part of the structure, wrecking piles and spewing fill out into the seabed. It is hoped to drive bigger diameter tubular piles around the damaged ones as replacements.

Mowlem chief executive John Gains said: 'I can't comment on the specifics of the contract, which is not one of our large ones. I do know it is in delay but discussions are ongoing with the consultant.' Announcing the extra cash, on top of the £14.55M it has already committed to the project, the Scottish Executive said the job was not now expected to be completed until August this year, a year late and double the original programme duration.

'This is obviously dependent on the contractors' progress on site, ' the statement noted, adding: 'We remain very concerned that the main quay works for the new pier are still to be completed.'

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