Highlands & Islands

Building industry troubles hit Inverness campus project

Concept art of new Inverness College
Image caption The campus would provide a new base for Inverness College

An extra four months have been added to the process of finding a contractor to build Inverness's new education and research campus.

It follows Highlands and Islands Enterprise's (HIE) decision to tighten its procurement procedures for the contract which is worth £15-£20m.

HIE said it was because of difficulties affecting the construction industry.

The public agency had a £32m deal with building firm Rok for various projects, but the company collapsed in November.

Through the European Union, HIE sought interest from companies in taking on the campus project.

The work would involve opening up the 89-acre (36-hectare) site at Beechwood and putting in place the infrastructure needed.

The campus would provide a new base for Inverness College and the prospective University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI).

HIE chief executive Alex Paterson said the completed project could potentially support up to 6,000 jobs over the next 30 years and generate more than £38m-a-year for the economy.

He said: "Given the current economic climate and in particular the collapse of Rok, we have decided to request additional financial information from the companies tendering for the complex and large-scale Inverness Campus project.

"Under European legislation this means we have to re-start the procurement process."

Mr Paterson added: "We appreciate the time and effort that companies have invested in the process so far and hope that those which have expressed interest will retain their interest, and understand that Inverness Campus is a project of significant importance which we are determined to protect from risk."

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