Fife's BiFab loses out to China and UAE in Scottish wind farm bid

Work to build Seagreen turbine jackets heading to firms thousands of miles away

Bosses at Fife’s BiFab have expressed their bitter disappointment after contracts to supply turbine jackets for Scotland’s largest offshore wind farm were awarded to firms thousands of miles away.

BiFab had hoped to secure some of the work for the Seagreen array, which is being built off the East Fife coast – just miles away from its yards in Burntisland and Methil.

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Instead, jobs to manufacture platforms for the wind farm’s 114 turbines will head to China and the United Arab Emirates, following a decision by operators Scottish and Southern Energy Renewables (SSE Renewables).

Trade union GMB has criticised the decision to award the work to foreign firms.Trade union GMB has criticised the decision to award the work to foreign firms.
Trade union GMB has criticised the decision to award the work to foreign firms.

SSE Renewables said the gap between BiFab’s submission and foreign bidding rivals was “too significant to close”.

BiFab is jointly owned by Canadian industrial fabrication and manufacturing giant DF Barnes and the Scottish Government, which has a minority stake in the company.

In a statement, DF Barnes bemoaned SSE Renewables’ decision to award the contracts to firms thousands of miles away from Fife.

The statement said: “Since acquiring BiFab, we have been trying exceptionally hard to get people back to work in our yards.

"Instead, Scottish and Southern Energy, in the face of what could be one of the worst recessions in modern history, has chosen to give all the fabrication work for one of the largest offshore windfarm projects in the world to companies in China and the UAE.”

The BBC reports that an industry insider has criticised DF Barnes for their failure to invest in either of the Fife yards or provide financial guarantees that they could deliver the work on time.

BiFab union GMB Scotland said the failure to secure the Seagreen work represented a massive blow to Scotland’s renewables ambitions.

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GMB official Hazel Nolan said: “We warn industry majors like SSE and the governments at Holyrood and Westminster that constant disappointment is now turning to growing anger – our communities dependent on offshore wind fabrication contracts are being totally failed, and so is the country”.

A spokesman for SSE Renewables said: “We wanted nothing more than to award work to a Scottish firm that would help set them up for future success.

"Unfortunately, on this occasion, the gap between BiFab’s offering and that of competing fabricators was too significant to close”.

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