Scotland business

Hopes raised over securing BiFab wind farm contracts

Worker at BiFab in Methil Image copyright PA

Hopes have been raised that the BiFab fabrication yards in Fife will secure new contracts.

Owner DF Barnes said it was "cautiously optimistic" over winning some of the work to build wind turbine jackets on a £2bn offshore wind farm off Fife.

But unions described reports that the yard would get eight of the project's 53 jacket foundations, creating 200 jobs, as a "paltry return".

The bulk of the work is expected to go to Indonesia.

In a joint statement, GMB Scotland secretary Gary Smith and Unite Scotland secretary Pat Rafferty, said: "The prospect of just eight turbine jackets coming to Fife while the vast majority are built in Indonesia is scandalous.

"This is a £2bn Scottish offshore wind project that will be largely delivered by cheap foreign labour and then shipped on diesel burning barges to the Fife coast. The renewables lobby and every politician that has promised a green jobs revolution must be cringing.

"The contract is a very small crumb of comfort to the local communities in Methil and Burntisland. It will create some desperately needed jobs for a period of time but nowhere near maximum capacity and it poses more questions than answers.

"As a minimum we need to know if the further investment needed to modernise the yards will be brought forward, what the prospects are for securing major contracts on future offshore wind projects like Seagreen, and what are DF Barnes' long-term plans for the business."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Fears have been raised that the bulk of the construction contracts for a series of offshore wind farm developments around Scotland will end up with companies based overseas

BiFab, an engineering firm, builds large-scale equipment for the offshore oil and gas industry, as well as platforms for offshore wind turbines and tidal generators.

It has two mothballed plants in Fife at Methil and Burntisland and a further facility at Arnish in the Western Isles.

The company previously had a core workforce of 400 and a further 1,000 contractors.

It was thought that the bulk of those jobs would be saved when DF Barnes took over in April last year.

However, in November BiFab suffered cash flow problems linked to a contract for the Beatrice offshore wind farm in the Moray Firth.

'Cautiously optimistic'

The Neart na Gaoithe wind farm, being developed by energy giant EDF, would see dozens of turbines built nine miles off the coast of Fife and is expected to generate the equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of about 375,000 Scottish homes.

The wind farm is expected to be operational by 2023.

A spokesman for DF Barnes said: "We are cautiously optimistic that work will be coming to Fife but negotiations are on-going."