A flood of complaints

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CONCERNS over construction works in the Queensferry area involving the Forth Replacement Crossing were raised at the Scottish Parliament last week.

Bridge bosses told Holyrood’s infrastructure and capital investment committee that 131 complaints had been received about the project from community groups over the past six months 
involving noise, vibration and flooding issues.

The issues, which Forth Crossing Bridges Constructors (FCBC) are responsible for, included 29 vibration and noise, 22 traffic management, and eight flood-related problems.

A further 52 complaints were raised over the upgrade of Junction 1a on the M9 near Kirkliston, built by a separate consortium, Sisk Roadbridge Civil Engineering.

Local concerns centred on speeding lorry drivers and a series of flood problems emanating from fields at Echline and Springfield last summer.

After major flooding on July 18, where 11 properties were damaged, FCBC distanced themselves from blame, but later accepted responsibility for the problem.

MSP Gordon MacDonald, (Pentlands), a former Queensferry resident, who sat on the committee panel said: “There was virtually no flooding in that area prior to the project starting, going back to the early 1980s. I am concerned that there was possibly inadequate flood risk assessment carried out.”

In reply, FCBC project manager Lawrence Shackman said: “The flooding issues were when the project was an early stage and during a period of sustained rainfall. The problems were regrettable, and we have the deepest sympathy for the people who were affected by these incidents.”

Mr Shackman added: “The risk of flooding is now very minimal, because a lot of measures had been put into play with temporary holding basins and pumps and outfalls in place to cater for any major flooding event.”

A report into the flood problems carried out by FCBC and Transport Scotland, which is overseeing the project on behalf of the Scottish Government, found there was a total failure on their behalf to prove the existence of effective flood risk assessment and flood risk mitigation.

And ongoing issues relating to speeding lorries have also been addressed as Mr Shackman informed the panel drivers had been sacked for breaking speed limits and for “aggressive” driving.

A Transport Scotland spokesman added: “We expect anyone working on the Forth Replacement Crossing to view safety as a top priority. We are confident that our contractors and the wider network of sub-contactors are fully aware of this.

“Given the sheer scale of the operations currently under way to construct the biggest transport infrastructure project in Scotland for a generation, we are confident our contractors are being responsive to community issues when they arise but will continue to monitor this closely as a matter of course.”

Concluding the meeting, committee convener Maureen Watt said contractors should be more closely supervised because residents felt it had been left to them to complain about problems to project bosses, the city council or the police.

Local resident Doug Tait, chairman of BRIGS, a watchdog group for the new bridge project, added regarding the flood revelations: “This meeting was interesting, it proved that TS have once again strayed from the truth publicly.”