More action to prevent lucrative wind farm construction contracts being lost to Scotland is needed, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has admitted, as he unveiled plans for a major conference to address the issue next month.
The joint summit on offshore wind power, hosted by the Scottish and UK governments in Edinburgh, comes after Scots firm BiFab was forced to mothball two plants in Fife after missing out on lucrative contracts for turbines off the Scots coast.
Both governments, together with trade unions, offshore wind developers and supply chain companies, will discuss how the sector can be maximised. Those in attendance will also look at how UK companies can benefit from the build-out of offshore wind farms in UK waters.
Mr Mackay said: “Scotland has all the natural resources required to make it an ideal location for offshore wind, but we need to ensure our economy isn’t missing out from key contracts going overseas.
“We are committed to maximising the sector in Scotland, but we cannot do it alone – we need the whole industry to work together.
“This summit will allow us to talk directly with the key developers and suppliers to establish what more we can do to help.
“The Scottish Government will be examining the consent process to ensure we use the powers at our disposal to keep work on these shores.
“And I hope to hear more from the developers and suppliers on what they plan to do to help grow our renewables economy.”
Mr Mackay will co-host the event on 2 May along with UK energy minister Claire Perry.
It comes after the mothballing of Scots factories such as BiFab which specialise in such work. Unite and the GMB said the failure to place any of the order for 100 steel jackets in Scotland is a “scandal”.
Foreign suppliers dominate the market, and British content in arrays built so far has been well below 50 per cent. Unions have called on the Scottish Government to push for “a level playing field” to compete against foreign firms which have state backing.
Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “Scotland has enormous offshore wind potential but too often this SNP government blow hot and cold and the sector suffers.
“This summit offers a chance to open up new frontiers for renewable energy in Scotland and ensure that this fledgling industry gets the support that it needs to flourish.”
Lang Banks, director of green group WWF Scotland, said: “It’s good to see this summit taking place. Over recent years Scotland has already reaped many benefits by positively embracing renewables in a big way, including the creation of thousands of jobs across the country and the dramatic reduction in carbon pollution.
“However, if we are to see a just transition for people and nature to a zero-carbon future, it’s vital action is taken to ensure we maximise the opportunities in sectors like offshore wind to grow further the jobs and economic benefits to Scotland.”