Scottish firms ‘cannot reasonably compete’ in renewables bonanza, unions warn

Burntisland Fabrication (BiFab)
Burntisland Fabrication (BiFab)

Scottish supply chain firms “cannot reasonably compete” for renewable energy development contacts, two major UK unions warned last night.

Unite and GMB called for First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Parliament to intervene to ensure a “level playing field” for companies.

The unions are reacting to Scottish firm Burntisland Fabrication (BiFab) missing out on a more than £160 million deal to construct 55 wind turbine jackets for the Moray East Offshore Windfarm.

The contract is believed to have been won by Belgian firm Smulders.

Unions say that despite the “best efforts” of BiFab owner DF Barnes, the firm cannot realistically compete for major contracts against state-subsidised European and international companies.

Unite and GMB claim Scottish firms have missed out on a £2.8 billion renewables energy “bonanza”.

They will write to the first minister and the convenor of the economy, energy and fair work committee to request that the Scottish Government introduces measures to ensure offshore developers commit to domestic manufacturing.

GMB Scotland secretary Gary Smith and Unite Scotland secretary Pat Rafferty said: “Ten years ago we were promised a ‘Saudi Arabia of Renewables’ but today we need political intervention to help level the playing field in Scottish offshore renewables manufacturing.

“The truth is that state funded European energy and engineering firms, backed by Far East finance and Middle East sovereign wealth funds, are carving-up thousands of jobs and billions of pounds from our renewables sector, and firms like BiFab are left fighting for scraps off our own table.

“That 100% of the manufacturing of the turbine jackets for Moray East and five platforms for Kincardine will be done in yards outside of Scotland is an absolute scandal. This cannot continue unchallenged.

“To working class communities in Burntisland and Methil there’s no ‘just transition’ or ‘green jobs revolution’ here, just a future that looks heavily rigged against their hopes for employment and prosperity.

“That’s the real cost of long-term political failure at all levels of government.”