Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Union campaign to save mothballed BiFab yards in Fife

BiFab workers Image copyright Getty Images

A union campaign has been launched to save the BiFab construction yards in Fife - which look set to lose out on work for a huge EDF wind farm project.

The Methil and Burntisland yards were mothballed last year having been close to financial collapse.

It is feared a failure to secure contracts for EDF's £2bn project off the Fife coast could kill the yards.

Now unions are calling for a U-turn on plans for the work to be carried out in Indonesia instead of Scotland.

A spokesman for the GMB union said: "EDF doesn't seem to know or care about the proud industrial history of Fife, forged by energy, from the coal mines to North Sea oil and gas.

"Fife is primed to help deliver the next generation of energy in the form of renewables manufacturing through its yards in Burntisland and Methil.

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Image caption Workers staged a march in 2016 as part of a campaign to safeguard jobs

"So why is EDF sub-contracting the manufacture of the NnGturbine jackets to a yard half way around the world in Indonesia? That's a slap in the face for Fife and for Scotland.

"We have the yards, we have the skills and we have the communities ready to play their part in tackling the climate emergency. EDF must think again and do what's right for Fife, for Scotland and for the environment."

The Unite union, which is also leading the campaign, has said the the BiFab yards in Fife are "ready and primed" to work on EDF's new Neart naGoaithe (NnG) wind farm.

Shipped to Scotland

Spokesman Pat Rafferty said: "The NnG project could create jobs for over 1,000 people, unlocking much-needed investment and growth for our future.

"If the bulk of the wind turbine jackets are built in yards just 10 miles from the wind farm, it would mean less shipping and significantly less carbon emissions over the lifespan of the NnG project.

"We will fight for every job and fight to get people back to work because the skills base is here in Fife."

A spokeswoman for EDF Renewables refused to comment on "speculation" about future contracts.

She added: "We are currently going through a procurement process and once the contracts are ready to be announced we will do so."

But it is understood the French state-owned EDF plans to have massive steel jackets, on which turbines will sit, built in Indonesia before being shipped to Scotland.

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They would then be installed at its new Neart naGoaithe wind farm, 10 miles off the Fife coast.

The project could generate enough electricity to power a city the size of Edinburgh.

A spokesman for BiFab owners DF Barnes said: "We are continuing our negotiations with EDF and remain hopeful of a positive outcome for BiFab."

Missing out on the EDF work would be the latest in a series of blows to the BiFab yards.

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In March, the contractor building a multi-billion pound offshore wind farm in the Moray Firth confirmed that BiFab's Fife yards had not won any of the work.

A statement by Deme, the Belgian company in charge of procurement for Moray East, emphasised the role of a Belgian-owned yard near Newcastle in having "a major portion" of the work.

The announcement came a year after the remaining shop floor workers at the Fife yards were given redundancy notices.

BiFab had previously been taken over by a Canadian engineering firm - in a deal brokered by the Scottish government.