A FRESH row has emerged over Scots firms losing out on wind farm revolution jobs after sixteen more staff were laid off at manufacturing firm Burntisland Fabrications (Bifab) amidst questions over a major multi-million offshore wind farm contract.

The Herald revealed last week that no final decisions had yet been confirmed over whether Canadian-owned Bifab, with yards in Arnish and Fife, would get a cut of the action in the creation of one of the country’s biggest offshore wind farms, the £2 billion Neart Na Gaoithe (NnG).

The GMB union has slammed government and the renewables industry over what it described as a "green jobs failure" after 16 were laid off with what it called "the wind-down of oil and gas manufacturing work" and amid speculation that work on the NnG project could be further delayed until August.

READ MORE: Scotland loses again in £2bn wind farm boom after ministers pledge action

It will take the workforce at Bifab to below 100 as work on oil and gas fabrication parts for the Niger Delta winds down.


Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said the government was doing everything to boost jobs for offshore wind projects.

The Herald understands it has still not been decided whether Scotland will get a cut of a key contract to build the 54 steel foundation jackets which anchor the turbines to the seabed. It has been proposed that eight might be built in Scotland with the rest being constructed in south east Asia.

The £640m Saipem turbine jackets deal will mean BiFab yards in Arnish and Fife continuing to lose out in the “green manufacturing revolution” getting no more than an estimated 15% of the valuable and crucial manufacturing work. Saipem will also supply and install an additional two jackets for offshore substation.

But as of the middle of January, no decision had yet been made on how the turbine jackets work was going to be spilt, if at all.

READ MORE: Minister wind farm summit pledge over Scots renewables jobs "scandal" 

BiFab, which employs around 1,400 workers was rescued from the brink of administration by the Scottish Government with a loan valued at £37.4m, but then was purchased by Canadian firm DF Barnes, although hundreds of jobs were shed.

So far the only new confirmed NnG jobs Scotland would gain is 50 over 25 years, at a new maintenance base at Eyemouth harbour.


GMB Scotland organiser Hazel Nolan has laid blame at the door of the Scottish Government and Scottish Renewables, saying: “The energy minister [Paul Wheelhouse] and the chief executive of Scottish Renewables [Claire Mack] should hold their hands up and admit: 'We are failing to bring the green jobs revolution to Scotland'.

“Another score of redundancies were confirmed at BiFab today and the three yards in Fife and Lewis will again be maintained by a skeleton staff by the end of February while we desperately hope for scraps of work from our own billion pound offshore wind developments.

“It’s a sad close to a week where both Mr Wheelhouse and Mrs Mack spoke about their ‘excitement’ and ‘enormous interest’ over our offshore wind sector, ignoring the distress supply chain firms currently find themselves along with the communities who need them.

“The truth is that under their respective stewardships our offshore wind sector boom has been strong for workers in countries like Indonesia, Spain and the UAE - anywhere but Scotland, frankly.”

The Herald revealed ten days ago that Paris-based GE Renewable Energy, a division of the Boston-based multinational General Electric, confirmed it had been awarded a major NnG project to oversee the design, supply, construction and commissioning of onshore and offshore wind substations.

And it is working in a "consortium arrangement" with two Dutch-based companies platform construction experts HSM Offshore BV and engineering company IV-One on the offshore wind farm project which is now being jointly run by French state energy giant EDF and state owned Irish energy company ESB.

In November, the Herald revealed Scotland had already missed out on hundreds of millions of pounds of work in the creation of the wind farm off the Fife coast, before the latest development with unions furious at the way NnG is being handled.

It emerged that Scotland had lost other important NnG project work, worth hundreds of millions of pounds to England, Germany, Finland and France.

In 2010, a Scottish Government report stated the offshore wind sector alone offered the potential for 28,000 direct jobs and a further 20,000 jobs in related industries, as well as £7.1bn investment in Scotland by 2020.

Ms Mack said she was prepared to have discussions with unions about the way forward, insisting that there were Scottish jobs in the pipeline.

“Offshore wind farms are multi-billion pound infrastructure projects, and those in Scottish waters are being delivered to help meet our energy needs and tackle climate change. These projects are already creating jobs in Scotland, and the potential for future investment and employment is enormous," she said.

“The majority of the value of an offshore wind farm project is in its 20-year-plus operations and maintenance phase. The highly-skilled, technology-rich businesses which support offshore wind at this point are already developing in Scotland, delivering sustainable, local jobs as well as exporting skills and products to a truly global market.


“As offshore wind deployment increases towards the Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council’s target of 8GW by 2030 – an eightfold increase on today – industry remains committed to delivering the maximum economic benefit from offshore wind to Scotland, and we would welcome constructive discussions with unions on doing so.”

Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “After helping BiFab to avoid the threat of administration, the Scottish Government has been in regular contact with the company, investors and relevant parties to ensure a strong, sustainable future for BiFab. By working with the company to secure new business, we hope to provide the best means of creating jobs in the longer term.

“We will provide support for any staff affected by redundancy through our Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) initiative. "Through providing skills development and employability support, PACE aims to minimise the time individuals affected by redundancy are out of work and it has a strong track record in doing so.

“We are doing everything within our limited devolved powers to retain and boost job numbers and increase Scottish content in offshore wind projects. That includes efforts to support local supply chains to improve their competitiveness in winning work.

“Ultimately, though, the all-important financial support mechanisms are controlled by UK Ministers and it is those mechanisms that are making it more difficult for domestic fabricators. I have continued to call on the UK Government to amend the Contract for Difference auction process, currently awarded solely on price, to better reflect value added to the economy."

A DF Barnes spokesman said: "The current project has come to an end. We remain confident that our ongoing negotiations will secure new contracts and deliver many more jobs.”  

An EDF Renewables spokesman said NnG delay claims: “We don’t comment on any speculation related to the project."