OVER the past 50 years, Scottish ship building has been reviewed at times in The Herald, in history books and television documentaries. The famous company names include John Brown, Barclay Curle, Stevens of Linthouse and Dennys among the obvious. Various worthies have had their say in commenting on the passing of more than 150 years of Clyde heritage, including Jimmy Reid, James Airlie, Billy Connolly and David Hayman. The demise of shipbuilding was attributed in turn to poor management, intransigent unions and uninterested governments in Westminster with all the above due some part of the blame.

How the ancestors of all the above must be birlin' in their graves to see our present state of fabrication in Scotland today. Just exactly what is it that we cannot do on these shores to win a contract for turbine towers? We are not talking Mars Rover complexity here and certainly not Queen Mary size.

My engineering life was in small and medium engineering so I make the following judgments from the comfort of my retirement armchair in the knowledge that the appropriate readers with better awareness will soon put me right wherever I may stray.

My view of the foundation jackets appear to be bog standard structural steel H beam and channel section, cut to length and bolted and welded, prior to painting with marine coatings. (The nearest eighth of an inch will probably do fine.)

The towers are of sheet or plate metal, cut presumably on numerically-controlled laser machines. Edges are weld-prepped before rolling into tube forms prior to welding.

The top naccelles are fabricated housings for the precision internals of the drive shaft and gearing to the generating systems.

How would a tower metal plate cut and rolled in BiFab and CS Wind compare to one in Finland?

How long does a 10 metres weld length take in BiFab or CS Wind compared to Finland or Korea?

What is the cost of transportation by ship of such large structures?

What irony is there in having towers and jackets travelling halfway round the world with attendant ship-borne carbon footprints so we can have renewable turbines in our waters?

Will the ministerial summit now planned for next year answer the above questions? Who knows?

The National Manufacturing Institute at Strathclyde University is the centre for manufacturing expertise, can we expect them to be attending the above summit?

Please, Scotland, surely we can do better than this, or are computer games the best we can hope for in the future?

Robert Wolfenden, Biggar.