SNP Ministers under fire over wind farm deals

The Scottish Government is facing calls for a “full review” into how Scotland has lost out on lucrative construction contracts for a massive wind farm project off the coast of Fife.

Labour MSPs in the area are demanding answers from ministers over the “complete lack of preparedness” to win work from the Neart na Gaoithe (NnG) wind farm just ten miles off the Fife coast.

An angry public backlash broke out when it emerged the main contractor of French state-owned company EDF will award Indonesia the manufacturing work for the scheme.

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Claire Baker and Alex Rowley have asked why no assurances were sought from the developer behind the project during a two-year period when the Scottish Government was involved in court cases with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Questions have been asked over windfarm contracts. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA WireQuestions have been asked over windfarm contracts. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Questions have been asked over windfarm contracts. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Unions have complained the nearby Methil yard owned by Scottish Enterprise and also the BiFab Burntisland yard, which is part of Forth Ports, missed out on the work despite lying empty.

They also want “full information” on public investment over the past decade in both yards.

“The more information emerges about this project, the clearer it becomes that the Scottish Government had both the opportunity and the right to demand that there were binding assurances about work coming to BiFab and the wider supply chain,” the MSPs said in a statement.

“Instead, Scotland is yet again scrabbling around looking for a small fraction of the work while the Italian firm Saipem, who are the main contractors, appear set to farm out the great majority of fabrication to Indonesia.

“Offshore wind projects have been in the offing for the past decade and SNP ministers must explain why so little has been done to prepare for them. We should now have state-of-the-art renewables yards at Methil and Burntisland capable of handling major contracts.

“SNP ministers have again let down Scotland and, in particular, Fife. There needs to be a full review of what has gone so badly wrong and what needs to be done with great urgency to ensure that the Fife yards can compete on a level playing field.”

The statement was issued amid concerns the question of work for BiFab and the supply chain was never “pinned down” by Scottish ministers.

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A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government is committed to doing everything within its devolved competence to increase Scottish content in offshore wind projects.

“In addition, we continue to call upon the UK Government to consider how the Contracts for Difference (CfD) process can be restructured to encourage wider use of the local supply chain during the build-out of offshore windfarms.

“We are also encouraging all parties to work towards a positive outcome in respect of the ongoing commercial discussions on the NnG project. However, any action taken by the Scottish Government in support of BiFab or any other Scottish company must be in line with State Aid rules.”