EDF claims 'milestone'
Unions give two cheers as Scots firms secure wind farm contracts
Pat Rafferty: ‘sending bulk of work overseas is an embarrassment’ (pic: Terry Murden)
Trade union leaders have welcomed the awarding of key contracts to Scottish firms to help build a major wind farm off the Fife coast, but say it is not enough.
The 54 turbines for the giant Neart na Gaoithe (NnG) site are being assembled at Port of Dundee, while struggling BiFab will build eight of the foundation jackets at its Methil yard.
Eyemouth Harbour has also been earmarked as a preferred supplier for maintenance work on the project, located 10 miles off the Fife coast.
The announcement came amid on-going concern that Scottish firms such as BiFab were missing out on contracts to build renewable energy projects to foreign competitors. Union leaders today expressed disappointment, saying most of the work would still be carried out overseas.
GMB Scotland Secretary Gary Smith said: “The yards in Fife have been lying almost empty for 18 months so something is better than nothing, but it’s hardly the green jobs revolution.
“The overwhelming majority of a contract based just ten miles from the Fife coast will be delivered over 7,000 miles away in Indonesia. If our politicians can’t see the problem in that then we’ve got no chance of building a meaningful renewables manufacturing sector.”
Another union leader, Pat Rafferty of Unite, said that awarding the bulk of the work to Indonesia must be “a source of national embarrassment for the Scottish and UK Governments”.
Offshore construction will start in June 2020 and is due to be complete in 2023. Twenty-five financial institutions are lending money to fund the project, overseen by energy firm EDF Renewables which acquired it last year. It is expected to provide power for 375,000 homes.
EDF Renewables has announced that Irish energy company ESB is taking a 50% stake in the project.
EDF Renewables UK CEO Matthieu Hue said the NnG project had reached a “hugely important milestone”, adding: “We are excited to get work under way with our contractors and all Scottish companies and stakeholders participating in the project.”
Scottish Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said the Scottish government was actively encouraging developers to explore “every possible option” to help the Scottish supply chain in the development of future offshore wind projects.
He added: “While we believe that much more is possible from across the whole sector, today’s announcement is another welcome step in the right direction.”
Scottish Renewables chief executive Claire Mack said: “Today’s announcement is great news for offshore wind in Scotland and shows what can be achieved when developers, supply chain and government work together.”
But Mr Smith was unimpressed by the announcement. “It’s also troubling to hear EDF claim Scotland doesn’t have the sufficient skills and contractors to build for all aspects of offshore wind construction,” he said.
“What has been happening in the 12 years since we were promised the Saudi Arabia of renewables?
“We need detail. What will be our economic share of the total project value? How many jobs will be supported and for how long? What will this mean for the Arnish yard where redundancies have been steady since the wind down of the Moray East contract?
“Based on this morning’s reports, it doesn’t look good enough.”
Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said it welcomed the work going to Scottish yards, but added that “greater support from the Scottish and UK Governments to ensure more work and investment is secured there is absolutely vital.”
He said: “The shameful reality is that if it were not for the work of the trade union led campaign to ensure BiFab secured work from the NnG project then in all likelihood there would have been no work going to the yards.
“Also, there is no clarity so far on what work, if any, will go to the Arnish yard which has served the vast majority of its workers with redundancy notices due to the lack of contracts.
“As we have been warning for months now the fact that the vast majority of the jackets are to be built in Indonesia and then transported back to Dundee and Fife must be a source of national embarrassment for the Scottish and UK Governments.
“EDF Renewables have also claimed that Scotland doesn’t have all the skills and contractors to be able to bid in all aspects of wind farm construction. While we don’t share this analysis, what is abundantly clear is that the renewables strategy specifically in relation to direct job creation and growing Scotland’s manufacturing capacity is a shambles.”