BiFab deal for offshore wind farm project collapses

BiFab was to manufacture eight turbine jackets at its yards in Methil, Fife, as part of the Neart Na Gaoithe (NnG) project.

A deal for Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab) to build structures for a £2bn offshore wind farm has collapsed according to union leaders.

BiFab was to manufacture eight turbine jackets at its yards in Methil, Fife, as part of the Neart Na Gaoithe (NnG) project developed by EDF Renewables.

However GMB Scotland secretary Gary Smith and Unite Scotland secretary Pat Rafferty used a joint statement to criticise the outcome which they labelled a “political failure”.

They said: “It looks like the Scottish Government ministers have walked away from our best chance of building a meaningful offshore wind manufacturing sector, and in doing so has extinguished the hopes of communities in Fife and Lewis who were banking their future prosperity on it.

“It’s a scandalous end to a decade which started with promises of a ‘Saudi Arabia of renewables’ supporting 28,000 full-time jobs in offshore wind and now finishes in mothballed fabrication yards and no prospect of any contracts or jobs on the horizon.

“Both the First Minister and the Prime Minister promised a green jobs revolution but they didn’t tell anyone it would be exported, and it all amounts to broken promises to workers who needed these yards to be thriving instead of dying.

“The fabrication contracts for NnG, just like those on the Seagreen project, will be manufactured by the rest of the world.

“Two projects worth a total of £5bn, requiring 168 turbine jackets to power our future, and not even one will be built in Scotland, everyone needs to let that sink in.

“This is what political failure looks like and people are right to be absolutely furious.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard was also critical of the deal’s collapse which comes after BiFab missed out on other vital contracts.

He said: “Following hard on the heels of SSE awarding the £3bn Seagreen fabrication work to China and the UAE this represents nothing less than an abject failure of Government.

“There ought to be a plan for a green jobs dividend here when renewable energy projects are licensed.

“Instead of the Scottish Government leading a plan for jobs and investment we have seen market forces triumph at the expense of working people.

“With yards in Scotland lying idle and a skilled workforce able to do this work there is real anger that these workers and communities have been let down.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “In order to save BiFab from closure in 2017, the Scottish Government invested £37.4m through a combination of equity and loan facilities and converted this to a 32.4% equity stake in BiFab.

“The Scottish Government is a minority shareholder in BiFab.

“We have been working collaboratively alongside the BiFab board, EDF and Saipem to try to find a solution which would allow for the delivery of the NnG contract in Scotland.

“The Scottish Government can only financially support BiFab, or any other commercial enterprise, in so far as a commercial investor would do the same.

“Without majority shareholder investment in the company or yards we have exhausted the options for what financial support we can provide legally.

“We will continue to do everything possible to support the business while recognising the need for us to remain in line with state aid regulations and we will be engaging with trades unions and local representatives in the coming days.”

A spokeswoman for EDF also said: “We can confirm that we received a letter from BiFab today.

“If a supplier becomes unable to meet its obligations under an agreement, we have a duty to all parties involved in NnG to consider the most appropriate steps to ensure the successful delivery of the project.

“No decisions have been made.”

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