HEADINGTON motorists are set for more traffic misery after the company installing a 2.2km pipeline admitted the project was behind schedule.

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which is behind the energy saving scheme, blamed the county council’s Access to Headington project; which has also been delayed, for the setback.

All works are now expected to finish at the Churchill Hospital section, connecting to the John Radcliffe Hospital, on May 26.

In a statement the Trust said: “Vital Energi apologise for any inconvenience these delays may cause and will do everything they can to make up lost time if at all possible, and to assist residents and stakeholders at all times.

“However, there is no provision for night or weekend work to make up the lost time, as this would require a variation to the planning consent, which would take considerable time to come through, delaying the process still further.”

The Trust addded that the installation of a sewer drain at the Beech House student accommodation development at Latimer Road had played a part in the delay.

In response city councillor Ruth Wilkinson said it came as no surprise and added: “All sorts of things can affect the timetable like bad weather, other projects running late, and unexpected utilities underground., too many big projects going on all at once in our area.

“Councillors tried to get them staggered, or at least timed during the school holidays but the funding for some of the projects relies on targets being achieved by a specific date.”

She said there had been a ‘domino effect’ for both major projects in that when one project was delayed the other inevitably followed.

Speaking of the impact on residents the councillor added: “Residents and motorists are pretty tolerant and will put up with the disruption if they know works will be finished by a certain date.

“But if that date gets put back, for whatever reason, everyone will get more stressed.”

Francine Rodrigues at the OUH Trust said: “The Trust is confident that Vital Energi is doing all it can to reduce delays and disruption during the Energy Link work and that they will continue take action to make up lost time where possible.”

Oxfordshire County Council, who is responsible for the delayed Access to Headington project, said the council was also doing all it could to keep delays to a minimum.

Spokesperson Martin Crabtree said: “Work on schemes such as the pipeline can encounter unforeseen circumstances as Vital Energi explain in their statement.”

He added the council was continuing to co-ordinate its project with Vital Energi.