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Scots firms miss out on lucrative UK offshore wind jobs

Svanen, lifting ship, involved with construction of burbo banks windfarm off the wirral

Scottish engineering firms are missing out on lucrative contracts for UK offshore wind projects because of a lack of government support, trade union bosses have claimed. 

Unions representing suppliers in Scotland claim Scottish companies are struggling to win contracts in the renewables sector because their European competitors are heavily subsidised by their respective governments and foreign wealth funds.  

Last month, Scottish firm Burntisland Fabrications missed out on a £160M contract to construct 55 wind turbine jackets for the Moray East offshore wind farm – leaving engineers in Fife empty handed. Instead contracts for the fabrication of floating platforms were awarded to firms in the United Arab Emirates, Belgium and Spain. 

The GMB and Unite unions have written to Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon demanding to know what the Scottish Government has done to ensure offshore developers commit to domestic manufacturing and for an inquiry to identify the barriers which have prevented Scottish firms from capitalising on a “renewable manufacturing bonanza”. 

GMB Scotland secretary Gary Smith and Unite Scotland secretary Pat Rafferty expressed their disappointment in a joint statement.  

“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,” they said. 

“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.” 

The statment adds: “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.” 

The news comes at an embarrassing time for Holyrood and Westminster. The UK government announced a £250M wind sector deal that aims to triple employment in the sector. 

UK firms may have also recently lost access to innovation funding for renewables projects by the European commission in a further knock to the sector.  

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Perhaps with Brexit we can change the tender rules and favour UK companies. Right now, I guess, clients have to tender contracts over a certain value threshold in accordance with EU regs.
    Of course that could mean UK companies may be out of favour on EU projects if reciprocal 'local' tendering rules come into effect.

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