One of Britain’s biggest trade unions has today (Monday 21 September) called for offshore windfarm contracts to be halted until a protocol has been created for ensuring that fabrication work stays in Britain.
GMB London made the call after a protest from GMB Scotland last week, when it was announced that 84 wind turbine jackets for the £3 billion Seagreen offshore wind farm in the Firth of Forth will be made in China.
Seagreen 1 is expected to be Scotland’s largest wind farm and it had been hoped that some of the work could have gone to BiFab – operators of the Arnish fabrication yard in the Isle of Lewis.
Fabrication contracts for Seagreen were awarded last week to the Zhuhai fabrication yard in Guangdong province, China. An earlier contract for the initial 30 jackets has already gone to Lamprell, a company in the United Arab Emirates.
It was reported on Saturday (19 September) that SSE Renewables had rejected bids for the work from Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab) because their costs were too high.
GMB’s regional secretary, Warren Kenny, described claims that these projects were intended to produce ‘green’ energy as ‘the breath-taking absurdity of the supply chain and carbon emissions reality.’
He said: "The steel for the turbines and jackets is being made from high emissions coal and the ships that transport them many thousands of miles will be powered by high emissions oil.
"Offshore wind farms and the current supply chain which lead to higher bills and no jobs are against the direct economic interest of union members and families.
"GMB London calls for the Government to halt awarding any further offshore wind farm electricity supply contracts until the power companies have put in place a UK-based supply chain."
BiFab is now owned by the Canadian company DF Barnes, which reportedly said last week that the news was "extremely disappointing".
BiFab has three yards in Scotland – at Arnish, Methil and Burntisland – and has only been kept afloat during financial troubles over the past three years as part of an agreement brokered by the Scottish government to support new opportunities for fabrication and construction in the marine, renewables and energy sector.
Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan said:“Seagreen 1 is expected to be one of the one of the largest offshore wind farms in the UK. We have yards in Lewis and Fife which have a proven track record in delivering high-quality manufacturing. Instead of this work being done in Scotland, SSE have awarded it to a company 6,000 miles away at the other side of the Eurasian landmass.
“This is another missed opportunity deliver work to yards like Arnish. There is a pressing need for the UK Government to reform the Contract for Difference funding scheme which subsidises these renewable developments to ensure these projects actually deliver benefits to the local supply chain in Scotland.”
(Picture: Seagreen Wind Energy).