Gamesa over for Dundee

While Michelin pumps up investment in its Dundee plant, the City of Discovery's hopes of getting on board the renewable energy bandwagon have suffered a damaging puncture.

Gamesa's decision to take Tayside off its shortlist of two for a major new manufacturing facility is a reminder that having lots of wind doesn't mean Scotland will get lots of jobs.

It doesn't mean, however, that the other finalist on the shortlist - Hartlepool - has won the deal, because the Spanish renewables giant has added Leith to its considerations.

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Image caption Tayside has been dropped as a possible site for Gamesa's turbine manufacturing facility

So with £130m investment, 1,000 direct Gamesa jobs on offer and a further 800 in the supply chain (not all at its new plant, but a lot of them in and around it) Scotland is still under consideration for Gamesa's new turbine manufacturing plant.

But there's a warning to Dundee in this that it will have to improve its offer to inward investors. The statement from Gamesa says: "Dundee can't accommodate Gamesa's foreseen offshore requirements in terms of timescales and scope in order to achieve the company's overall business plan objectives."

What does that mean? Well, going back a month - the point when Gamesa broke its own 31 October deadline for making a decision on the investment - I was told its decision would be taken on the basis of "the characteristics of port infrastructure and the area, but the key will be included in how close are the projects of our customers, supply chain development, possible expansion of infrastructure, ease of logistics work, etc".

That helps explain why Dundee hasn't made the grade. It may be too far from the large wind farm developments off the east of Scotland, or it may lack the space for expansion and for suppliers.

Sunshine on Leith

But there's another aspect to this that ought to concern Taysiders. This is how Gamesa announced the decision to look afresh at Edinburgh:

"Leith - offered by Forth Ports whilst also taking into consideration the infrastructure program recently announced by Scottish Enterprise - is now being considered as an alternative site that merits thorough evaluation by Gamesa."

In other words, Forth Ports, which owns both Dundee and Leith docks (along with Grangemouth and the four main ports in Fife) appears to be giving priority to investment in the Edinburgh docklands.

And having signed a deal to develop Leith, alongside its owner and the city council, the Scottish government's economic development agency seems to think the same.

Let's not forget, meanwhile, that Scotland has only one turbine-making plant at present. It's in Campbeltown and it's been in administration three times in three years.

While there's been significant commitment from some of the industry's big players to invest in Scotland for design and engineering skills, the country still badly needs a major inward investment for manufacturing if it's to avoid the economic benefits of renewable energy being felt elsewhere.