THE Scottish Government has been accused of rushing the opening of the £1.35bn Queensferry Crossing after it emerged snagging work is to continue for another year.

The Scottish Tories said ministers had been "premature" to open the suspension bridge over the Forth to traffic in August 2017 after the latest delays were announced.

Contractors estimated in January that corrective snagging work should finish by September.

However in a letter to Holyrood’s rural connectivity committee, quango Transport Scotland said the work was now expected to run until October 2019.

Major projects director Michelle Rennie said the contractor, Forth Crossing Bridges Constructors (FCBC) had “experienced difficulties in mobilising resources” and this has had a “significant impact” on the progress of repairs.

There had also been problems with a safe platform under the road deck, while work on the three towers and cables would not start until next spring to avoid bad winter weather.

The list of snagging includes work on road lighting, drainage, wind barriers, painting, a load verification system and electrical and mechanical work inside the road deck.

She said there would be no extra cost to the public or impact on average journey times.

However she told MSPs it may be necessary to “undertake routine maintenance works as part of the ongoing operation of the road network”.

Scottish Tory transport spokesman Jamie Greene said the SNP’s “hurried approach” had been driven by public relations concerns, and could lead to trouble down the line.

He said: “There’s never been a back-patting session quite like it from the nationalists after the Queensferry Crossing was officially unveiled last year.

“But now we learn the substantial backlog of snagging works will continue well into the autumn of next year, two years after it originally opened.

“The Queensferry Crossing is a magnificent piece of work, but if journey times have not improved and motorists are facing years of roadworks, you can understand scepticism around this flagship project.”

Scottish LibDem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton, whose Edinburgh seat includes the bridge’s southern approach, said: “I am proud of the crossing which connects my constituency to Fife, but when we first uncovered how far it was from being completed, we were accused of talking Scotland down.

"Now we learn it is going to take an additional 12 months.

"The finishing touches will not be in place until almost two years after the bridge opened. Residents and road users will be fearful that this will mean closures and delays."

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said the crossing opened when FCBC said it was safe for traffic, “a standard approach for major projects” that delivered an early benefit to drivers while some work remained outstanding.

He said: “It’s over a year since the Queensferry Crossing opened and there is clear evidence that it is meeting its objective of providing a reliable replacement crossing over the Forth.

“While I am disappointed with this news, Transport Scotland will continue to work with our contractors to ensure they finish at the earliest opportunity possible.