STORM DAMAGE to a pier construction project in Scrabster Harbour has further delayed plans to introduce a new ferry service between Orkney and Scotland.
Contractor Mowlem and consultant Babtie were this week working to repair damage to piles wrecked by recent storms which washed fill from behind a cofferdam into the sea.
No revised finishing date has been announced for the 50 week £15M project which was due to end last August (NCE 3 October 2002). The delay has prevented the start of a new ferry service by Northlink between Orkney and Scotland.
A new high capacity ship remains tied up in Leith because the existing dilapidated berth is unsuitable. An older smaller ship is providing a temporary service.
No reason for the delay is being given by Mowlem but the contractor is understood to be claiming for an extension of time from client Scrabster Harbour Trust. This would reduce potential liability for £50,000 a week liquidated damages for late completion.
Mowlem is understood to blame delays on unforeseen ground conditions and a lack of information which forced the marine works into harsher winter weather.
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.'
The pier is a combi-wall piled construction consisting 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 when savage storms hit at the end of January.
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.