Highlands & Islands

Scots yards in bid for Moray East wind farm contract

Offshore wind turbine Image copyright PA
Image caption The Moray East project will involve the installation of about 100 turbines

The owner of fabrication yards in Fife and the Western Isles is bidding to help build a major offshore wind farm in the Outer Moray Firth.

The Scottish government said BiFab hoped to secure the contract to manufacture 55 jacket foundations needed for the Moray East scheme.

A contract worth about £160m has already been awarded to the company Lamprell to make 45 jackets.

This work will be done at yards in the United Arab Emirates.

Earlier this month, Danish firm MHI Vestas Offshore Wind secured a deal to supply 100 turbines for the 950MW project.

Trade union GMB Scotland has concerns that BiFab's yards in Fife and at Arnish in Lewis are at risk of missing out on a major contract to work on the scheme.

'Solidify the future'

A Scottish government spokesman told BBC Scotland the Lamprell announcement had "absolutely no impact" on BiFab's bid.

He said: "BiFab are still working extremely hard to secure work for their yards in Fife and the Western Isles.

"We have confidence that everything possible is being done to win new contracts, restore employment to previous levels and solidify the future of the current workforce."

Moray East is to be built about 14 miles (22km) off the Caithness coast.

The wind farm, a joint venture involving EDP Renewables, Engie and Diamond Generating Europe Ltd, could generate enough power for 950,000 homes.

Lamprell has welcomed the award of its contract. It said its workforce had been upskilled over the last 18 months to better deliver renewable energy projects.

Moray East is one of three Moray Firth wind farms.

Moray West has been proposed for a site adjacent to it.

The third scheme, Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Limited (Bowl), is under construction. More than 20 of its 84 turbines have been installed.

'Fighting for scraps'

Towers, blades and other components for Moray will be stored at Invergordon's Port of Cromarty Firth until needed under a contract worth £10m.

Following the award of the latest contract for the project to Lamprell's Hamriyah and Sharjah yards, trade union GMB Scotland has sought information on whether yards in Fife and at Arnish in Lewis might also benefit from work on Moray East.

Jobs were lost at the BiFab-operated sites earlier this year, and the new owners of the business have been seeking new orders for the yards.

GMB Scotland secretary Gary Smith said: "BiFab's new owners are working hard to secure work for Fife and Lewis, an effort matched by the Scottish government and the unions, and let's be clear those working-class communities need decent jobs and opportunities.

"What we cannot entertain is more of the same across Scotland's renewables sector, where we have been fighting for the scraps from our own table - that's certainly not a just transition towards a low carbon economy.

"The workers and their families who sacrificed so much to battle for BiFab will be watching developments closely and we need some positive news soon."

More on this story