BiFab saga shows how SNP have failed Scottish industry - Murdo Fraser

Remember when it was said that Scotland would be “The Saudi Arabia of renewable energy”?

By Murdo Fraser
Tuesday, 27th October 2020, 4:45 pm
The BiFab yard in Burntisland
The BiFab yard in Burntisland

This was the claim made by the former First Minister Alex Salmond, who saw the opportunities from offshore wind farm projects as being able to support thousands of construction and fabrication jobs in Scotland.

One company which stood to benefit was BiFab, Burntisland Fabrications, with premises in Fife and on Lewis. With a background to producing steel jackets for the North Sea Oil industry, and close geographical proximity to the new wind farm sites, BiFab was perfectly placed to benefit from the jobs bonanza that was promised.

Already in financial difficulty and supported by public funds of at least £40 million, BiFab was hopeful of winning part of the contract for the new Neart-na-Gaoithe windfarm just off the Fife coast. We learned last week that it had been unsuccessful, and that the jobs were going overseas.

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What this means for the future of BiFab, and indeed whether it now will have any future at all, will become clear in coming days. But what we do know is that the SNP Government have failed dismally to deliver on their promises of jobs from the offshore wind bonanza, and public funds are disappearing down the tubes.

Planning consent for these offshore wind projects is granted by Scottish Ministers on advice from Marine Scotland. The opportunity was there at the time consent was issued to incorporate clauses requiring a local employment and training strategy to be adopted. For whatever reason, that opportunity was not taken at the time, and today we live with the consequences.

Scotland will still see the benefit from these offshore wind projects in terms of their contribution to our energy mix, but it is a crying shame that the construction jobs are now going overseas when they could have been supporting workers and their families in Fife and on Lewis. SNP Ministers will not be forgiven for failing to deliver on their promises as to what the green energy revolution would mean for the Scottish economy.