The man who took charge of the troubled Edinburgh trams project will today be appointed the first chairman of the new Scottish Police Authority.

The appointment of Vic Emery, who has a shipbuilding background, will be announced this morning by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill along with the new chairman of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service board.

Mr Emery, 68, who is currently the convenor of the Scottish Police Services Authority (SPSA), will be responsible for holding the chief constable of Scotland's first single police force to account.

Last January, Mr Emery was appointed chairman of the beleaguered Edinburgh tram project Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (TIE) and Transport Edinburgh Limited (TEL). He also used to chair the New Campus Glasgow Project.

His appointment increases the chances of Stephen House, the chief constable of Strathclyde, being appointed the first chief of the new Scottish Police Service. One source said: "This appointment dramatically shortens the odds of Mr House getting the job."

Interviews for the post of the chief constable, who will take over leadership of the single force on April 1, 2013, on a £220,000 salary, will take place on September 24. An appointment is expected by mid October.

Contrary to expectations, The Herald understands Sir Hugh Orde has not applied for the post. Those in the running for the top job include David Strang, chief constable of Lothian and Borders; Justine Curran, chief constable of Tayside; Colin McKerracher, the chief of Grampian Constabulary; and John Vine, former chief of Tayside and Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of UKBA.

The role involves overseeing the UK's second largest police force, with more than 17,000 officers and 6500 support staff.

The chief constable will work with the new Scottish Police Authority to make sure there is a smooth transition to the new service which will bring together eight police forces in Scotland, the Scottish Police Services Authority and the Scottish Crime and Drugs Enforcement Agency.

From April 2013 there will be three deputy chief constables on a salary of approximately £160,000 a year and nine places for assistant chief constables on a salary of roughly £110,000 a year.