The latest news on BiFab’s failure to win work from vast offshore windfarms makes it even more essential that the Arnish yard is available to other users, according to the campaign group Action for Arnish.
In a statement today Thursday October 22,, the group said: “Once again, we are utterly dismayed to learn that not even the hoped-for crumbs of the Neart na Gaoithe cake will come to Scotland, far less to Arnish. The refusal of the Scottish Government to underwrite the contract is disappointing to say the least.
“We express solidarity and sympathy with the workforce in Fife who have again been failed badly. Even before this news, there was little expectation that any of the work would come to Arnish in the event of BiFab being successful.
“However, this outcome reinforces our view that the whole relationship involving the Scottish Government, HIE and BiFab must come under review and the first step towards that is to have transparency over the Arnish deal.
"There is no doubt that the Canadian company, DF Barnes, who took over BiFab at the request of the Scottish Government, feel badly let down. The promises made at that time were not delivered on and the necessary investment was not forthcoming.
“Arnish has been a victim of this situation and is now completely marginalised without any prospect of work. It is time for complete openness about the deal with BiFab/DF Barnes and a clear statement from HIE and the Scottish Government that any firm which can bring work and investment to the yard will be welcomed rather than turned away”.
Union leaders involved in the battle to preserve jobs at Arnish hit out angrily last night (Wednesday October 21) as a wind farm deal that could have seen 200 workers return to BiFab’s yards is on the verge of collapse putting the future of the company in doubt.
BiFab had previously been selected by the developers of the Neart Na Gaoithe (NnG) offshore wind project to provide “at least” eight foundation jackets.
This comes just weeks after BiFab also lost out in a bid to win work on the Seagreen offshore wind project off the coast of Angus.
Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan will today (Thursday October 22) meet with Scottish Government Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop MSP to discuss the situation at BiFab. Alasdair Allan MSP said: “The news over the jackets for Neart na Gaoithe is yet more bitter disappointment following BiFab missing out on work for SSE's Seagreen offshore wind farm project last month. While it is little surprise to learn today that the Scottish Government, as minority shareholders in BiFab, have now invested as much money in the company as the law will allow, it brings into even sharper focus the predicament which Arnish faces. I will be meeting with Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop later on today and will ask her to set out what the options now are for the yard and its workforce, as they deserve to have a future at a time when there is work to be done in Scotland’s growing renewables sector.”
In a joint statement GMB Scotland Secretary Gary Smith and Unite Scotland Secretary Pat Rafferty said: “It looks like the Scottish Government ministers have walked away from our best chance of building a meaningful offshore wind manufacturing sector, and in doing so has extinguished the hopes of communities in Fife and Lewis who were banking their future prosperity on it.
“It’s a scandalous end to a decade which started with promises of a ‘Saudi Arabia of Renewables’ supporting 28,000 full-time jobs in offshore wind and now finishes in mothballed fabrication yards and no prospect of any contracts or jobs on the horizon.
“Both the First Minister and the Prime Minister promised a green jobs revolution but they didn’t tell anyone it would be exported, and it all amounts to broken promises to workers who needed these yards to be thriving instead of dying.
“The fabrication contracts for NnG, just like those on the Seagreen project, will be manufactured by the rest of the world.
“Two projects worth a total of £5 billion, requiring 168 turbine jackets to power our future, and not even one will be built in Scotland – everyone needs to let that sink in.
“This is what political failure looks like and people are right to be absolutely furious.”
BiFab was rescued from the brink of administration by the Scottish Government in a £34 million agreement in 2017 before being purchased by Canadian firm DF Barnes in April 2018. The Scottish Government also provided a loan facility of £15m.
A spokesperson for the owners of BiFab, Canadian firm DF Barnes, is reported as saying: “BiFab can confirm that following a decision by the Scottish Government that it can no longer provide assurances for the NnG jacket fabrication contract, the company has informed EDF & Saipem that it can’t provide the required assurances for the work.
“Unfortunately, the recent decision by SSE to award work to Asia over Scotland for their Seagreen project, combined with NnG project delays due to COVID-19, have contributed to this difficult decision.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government can only financially support BiFab, or any other commercial enterprise, in so far as a commercial investor would do the same.
“Without majority shareholder investment in the company or yards we have exhausted the options for what financial support we can provide legally.
“We will continue to do everything possible to support the business while recognising the need for us to remain in line with State Aid regulations and we will be engaging with trades unions and local representatives in the coming days.”