Labour has urged the Scottish Government to back its call to a French energy giant for construction contracts for a £2 billion wind farm to go to Scotland rather than overseas.
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said he backs the campaign for EDF Energy to build turbine jackets for its Firth of Forth wind farm at BiFab’s yards in Fife.
Canadian firm DF Barnes acquired BiFab’s three yards – at Arnish on Lewis and Burntisland and Methil in Fife – last year in a Scottish Government-backed rescue package, amid fears they would close for good.
Since the buyout, the firm has not secured any offshore wind contracts and wants to ensure developers stick to commitments in UK government contracts on proportions of work to carried out in Scotland.
Leading a debate in the Scottish Parliament, Mr Leonard said: “It will be nothing short of a betrayal if the work on EDF’s offshore wind farm worth up to £2bn located just 10 miles off the Fife coast, if that work is sent around the world to Indonesia.
“This is work that has the potential to create 1,000 green jobs for Fife, fulfilling the promise to the hundreds of the former BiFab workers, skilled workers, who stand ready to work. For EDF to sent those jobs elsewhere would not only be a betrayal of those workers, it would be a betrayal of an entire community and a betrayal too of Scotland’s commitments on climate change.”
Mr Leonard said shipping the parts back to Scotland from Indonesia is estimated to produce emissions equivalent to 30 million cars.
He called on the Scottish Government to use planning and procurement powers, adding: “I urge the Scottish Government today to join us on calling on EDF to rethink their decision, to invest in communities, the workforce and the people of Fife.”
Green MSP Mark Ruskell said: “It would be an utter scandal if EDF constructed a wind farm just a few miles off the Fife coast, in sight of Methil, where former skilled workers at BiFab have to walk past their mothballed yard every day on their way to try to find new work.”
Mr Mackay said it is important “not to let developers off the hook” and said the sector has “let us down” regarding what proportion of the contracts come to Scotland.
He said the Scottish Government is looking at a range of regulations and powers in this regard, but said the UK also needs to act as many areas are reserved.
He added: “I remain cautiously confident that contracts will be secured for BiFab which will see work not only return to Arnish but also to Methil and Burntisland.”