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SNP blame airport for rail link cancellation

13.10.09

Scottish Ministers have accused Glasgow Airport of rejecting plans for the now axed rail link that would have avoided cost overruns, the Herald reports. In the latest of the ongoing spat over the axed Glasgow Airport Rail Link (GARL), SNP Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said airport operator BAA had opted for a route that required the relocation of the its fuel farm, car park and other facilities, which contributed to costs within the airport escalating from £8m to £70m. He said that a cheaper route, the preferred option of Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) when it first backed the project, was rejected by BAA as it would have interfered with plans to redevelop the hub.

The SNP also said that Government agency Transport Scotland had its ‘hands tied’ by an agreement made prior to taking over the project in May 2008 between BAA and SPT. A master agreement, signed in September 2006, gave BAA veto powers over any work affecting airport facilities, a lead role in designing and delivering key aspects including the fuel farm relocation, and removed the threat of compulsory purchase orders.

Mr Stevenson told MSPs that efforts by Transport Scotland to reintroduce compulsory purchases and shut down businesses on the airport site during negotiations this year as costs were escalating were rejected by the airport. He also claimed Transport Scotland was ‘limited’ in its selection of reprovision sites that BAA would agree to.

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