Exclusive: Government-led summit to probe dearth of wind supply chain deals

BiFab's Arnish yard, Isle of Lewis.
BiFab's Arnish yard, Isle of Lewis.

Westminster and the Scottish Government are to lead a summit into the awarding of contracts to the offshore wind supply chain as foreign firms continue to cash in on UK work.

The forum, due to be held in Edinburgh on May 2, will include UK trade unions, offshore wind developers and supply chain firms.

Scottish finance secretary Derek Mackay will co-host the summit with UK energy minister Claire Perry.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon vowed to convene a summit in March after troubled Scottish firm Burntisland Fabrication (BiFab) was overlooked in favour of two foreign rivals for a multi-million contract for a giant 100-turbine Moray Firth wind development.

In December 2018, it was announced that Dubai-headquartered Lamprell had won the £160 million deal to construct 45 jackets for the project, which is being built under a partnership between Spanish-owned EDP Renewables and France’s Engie.

A separate deal for a further 55 jackets, was awarded to Belgian company Smulders.

Mr Mackay said: “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.”

Those invited to the summit include Vattenfall, EDP Renewables, Deme Offshore (formerly GeoSea), Scottish Power Renewables, Equinor, Red Rock Power and Seaway Heavy Lifting.

GMB and Unite workers unions will also be at the meeting.

A spokesman for GMB Union claimed the Scottish Parliament had “indulged itself far too long in empty promises about a green jobs revolution” while billion pound investments were commanded by European and Middle East firms.

He added: “Let’s be clear that we’ve been brought to this point by failure.

“BiFab’s yards lie empty, we need to sharpen our elbows in the fight for renewables manufacturing jobs.

“That needs to start at this summit.”