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BAA fear delay in Glasgow Airport rail link could hit their growth plans

06.04.06

Airport bosses warned that potential delays to Glasgow's rail airlink could hit their plans for the airport. BAA Scotland believes a Bill authorising the link offers too much opportunity to stall the £160million project for years. The company, which owns Glasgow Airport, has even lodged a formal objection to the Bill, which went before the Scottish Parliament in January.

BAA stressed it wasn't against the rail link, just the detailed proposals as set out in the Bill. Glasgow Airport managing director Alan Barr said: 'We remain concerned some elements of the proposed bill may actually compromise our future masterplan and our ability to expand and compete.'

'Therefore we will ask MSPs to carefully consider several aspects of the Bill and consider more protection for the airport. We will also be seeking assurances from Transport Scotland that, if the Bill is passed, the building of the rail link will not be subject to unnecessary delay, which would adversely affect our ability to plan for future growth.'

BAA's real problem is with proposed compulsory purchase powers. The Bill gives Transport Scotland, the new national transport agency, and SPT 10 years to decide whether to buy the land for the track or not. BAA maintains that will give the agencies the right to do nothing with huge swathes of land for a decade, prompting uncertainty over other major developments proposed for the airport.

BAA believes the Bill initially only allowed developers a five-year window to lay the railway, which is scheduled for opening in 2009. MSP Charlie Gordon - a champion of the rail link - said: 'I don't know why the Bill has 10 years in it, rather than five. I would not like to think someone has extended things, thinking the project may be delayed.

Transport Scotland denied there had been any change in the timescale for compulsory purchase. A spokeswoman said: 'The usual timescale in bills for the compulsory purchase of land is five years, with the option to extend for five years should it be required. The wording within the Bill was simplified to 10 years. Transport Scotland is fully committed to delivering the rail link at the earliest opportunity.'

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