Gordon Brown accused of 'hypocrisy' by Scottish Government over wind farm contracts

The BiFab yard in Burntisland
The BiFab yard in Burntisland
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The Scottish Government has rejected comments by Gordon Brown that it has "so far done too little" to bring wind farm manufacturing contracts to Scotland.

The former Labour leader took aim at Holyrood ministers in a newspaper column today in which he expressed regret that the BiFab fabrication yards in Fife "are lying empty", despite energy giant EDF committing to a £2bn project to install wind turbines in the Firth of Forth.

Trade unions have previously warned that BiFab will miss out on contracts to manufacture the turbine jackets required by the project, even though the planned wind farm will be located just 10 miles offshore from its Methil yard.

It is understood that EDF could have the parts for the Neart naGoaithe wind farm made in Indonesia and then shipped over.

The Scottish Government, which last year arranged for a rescue deal for BiFab, said it had called for energy powers to be devolved.

READ MORE: Scottish firms miss out on work to build country’s wind farms
Mr Brown said it was "a national scandal" that the contract for billions of pounds looked set to be awarded to a yard overseas.

"This is despite promises from both Scottish and UK Governments that 60 per cent of offshore renewable work would come to workers and communities here," he wrote in the Daily Record.
"Near my home, the Methil and Burntisland yards that, for years, built up an expertise in wind turbines are lying empty."

He continued: "And yet the one major ­infrastructure project that is ready to build in Scotland next year is likely to yield only a ­fraction of its potential jobs for Scottish manufacturing yards.

"What will make every family really angry is that we, the British public, are all paying. Soon £520 per family per year will be spent on a special energy levy to fund the work about to be sent overseas."

A spokesman for finance secretary Derek Mackay told The Scotsman: “This is the height of hypocrisy from Gordon Brown given that energy policy is reserved to Westminster and he fought tooth and nail to keep it that way. That has meant that communities in Fife and across Scotland are at the mercy of successive UK Governments that have done nothing to ensure Scottish industry benefits from the investment in renewables in Scotland.

“We support efforts by the industry, unions and campaigners to bring contracts to Scotland, and welcome the fact that in 2017 the Scottish low carbon and renewable energy sector supported over 46,000 jobs – generating over £11 billion in turnover.

“We convened an Offshore Wind Summit in May, with unions, companies and other interested parties exploring what more can be done to ensure Scottish supply firms receive a fair deal and that the commercial negotiations that take place are fair to all parties.”