Lothians jobs boom as new Forth bridge takes shape

Parts of the foundation are placed around Beamer Rock
Parts of the foundation are placed around Beamer Rock
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ENGINEERING bosses say the staggering scale of the new Forth road crossing has prompted them to recalculate the number of workers they need.

And – speaking as the first towering parts of the span’s foundation were lowered into place – one construction leader has admitted he will need to recruit more skilled workers from Edinburgh and the Lothians than he first anticipated.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon views  progress at Rosyth

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon views progress at Rosyth

Derek Chambers, of Morrison Construction, one of the key contractors employed on site, said the task in hand is sucking in skilled work, providing a welcome boost for the local economy.

“Several hundred jobs will be needed in the supply chain. (In addition) there are around 1200 workers on-site at the moment, most of whom were employed locally,” he said. “But that does not include those working in the wider supply chain with subcontractors in Edinburgh and Lothians, which would be several hundred over the course of this project.”

And Mr Chambers said the benefits of the new project would also be felt by graduates and the unemployed.

He said: “We have between 70 and 80 workers who were unemployed when they came to the project and we also have about 20 trainee graduates, who were doing a civil engineering degree or an HND.

We also employ workers such as van drivers and there’s a canteen which has to be staffed as well.”

Colin Carmichael, of CV Carmichael, a civil engineering firm, said: “It’s getting to the stage where there’s a shortage of skilled labour.”

They were speaking as the first of ten giant steel, 33ft plinths were lowered by crane on to Beamer Rock in the Firth of Forth.

The cofferdam, as it is known on site, forms the span’s foundations: so it has to be placed with pinpoint accuracy to ensure the future safety of countless future generations of road-going traffic.

The bridge was hailed as a future national icon by Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s deputy first minister, who visited the project’s dockyard site at Rosyth with leaders from 
construction and transport firms tasked with building the £1.6 billion crossing.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The crossing will have a massive potential impact – not just for the Scottish economy but for the local economy as well.” The project, due for completion in 2016, is one of the biggest engineering feats Scotland has seen.