FMQs: Anas Sarwar claims Scottish seabed rights sold to wind power firms ‘with questionable human rights records’

Anas Sarwar has accused the Scottish Government of selling off the country’s seabed plots to wind farm companies with “questionable human rights records”.

The Scottish Labour leader raised issues relating to Marubeni and TotalEnergies, which won rights to develop renewables sites as part of the ScotWind project. Under the announcement, seabed lease rights were awarded to 17 offshore wind projects earlier this week.

Mr Sarwar pointed to the history of Japanese firm Marubeni, which in partnership with SSE Renewables won rights to 858sqkm of seabed in the Firth of Forth.

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He said that in 2014, Marubeni had pleaded guilty for its participation in a scheme to pay bribes to high-ranking government officials in Indonesia to secure a lucrative power project, as well as being fined for its participation in a decade-long scheme to bribe Nigerian government officials to obtain engineering, procurement and construction contracts.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar raised human rights issues around the companies awarded ScotWind projects. Picture: PA
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He also raised allegations over the human rights record of French firm TotalEnergies, which in partnership with Macquarie’s Green Investment Group and RIDG is to develop the West of Orkney wind farm. Articles highlighted by Mr Sarwar claimed Burmese villagers had been forced to work on a Total pipeline in 2009.

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The projects, worth nearly £700 million and which span around 5,000 square miles of the seabed, have been chosen as part of the latest ScotWind leasing round for offshore wind farm sites around Scotland.

Mr Sarwar said: “I welcome inward investment in Scotland’s renewables sector, but it shouldn’t come at a cost to the Scottish economy, our just transition or our values. We should be clear about what has happened.

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“This SNP Government have sold – on the cheap – the right to profit from Scotland’s energy transition to multinational companies with questionable human rights records.

"This is about the Scottish supply chain, Scottish companies and Scottish jobs. Scottish bridges built with Chinese steel, Scottish wind farms with turbines built in Indonesia.

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“Ferries, not built in Scottish shipyards, but built in Poland and Turkey. And now Scotland’s seabed owned by foreign multinationals with woeful human rights records.”

Mr Sarwar added: “We’ve heard the First Minister’s list of promises before. A state-owned energy company promised, never delivered. Scotland becoming the Saudi Arabia of renewables, promised, but never delivered. Another for 130,000 green jobs, promised, but never delivered.

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“It is clear that the SNP Government has sold out Scottish jobs, sold off Scottish assets and has now sold out Scottish values.”

Ms Sturgeon said there was “appropriate processes in place to do due diligence” on the companies awarded the projects.

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Pointing to the opposition benches, Ms Sturgeon said: “This is a thoroughly positive opportunity for Scotland – and no wonder, then, that Scottish Labour just wants to gurn about it and be negative. That is what's characterised Scottish Labour for a long time and it's why they're sitting over there, these days, not there and certainly not here.”

The First Minister added: “Let me just repeat the opportunity. The opportunity to meet our own energy needs from renewable sources; to keep energy costs down; the opportunity to export renewable energy to other countries; the opportunity to grow a supply chain and create thousands, possibly tens of thousands of jobs, and, of course, the opportunity to raise revenues for the Scottish Government for public services here in Scotland.”

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