SSE and MSPs to meet and discuss £3billion windfarm work

The SNP said Scotland was being held back by the UK Government being unable to sign-up to the deal

Energy firm SSE and MSPs will meet to discuss a key contract for the £3billion Beatrice offshore windfarm in the Outer Moray Firth amid concerns about fabrication yard closures if the work goes outside Scotland.

Fabrication workers’ union GMB Scotland confirmed the move yesterday.

It follows a written plea from cross-party MSPs for turbine jackets needed for the 664 megawatt development to be fabricated at Burntisland Fabrications’ (BiFab’s) yards at Arnish on Lewis and in Fife.

In their letter calling for the work to be done in Scotland, MSPs Claire Baker (Labour), Wilie Rennie (Liberal Democrat), David Torrance (SNP), Murdo Fraser (Conservative) and Patrick Harvie (Green) said: “If the BiFab yards are not awarded a substantial part of the Beatrice contract, then it will almost certainly jeopardise the yards futures.

“The BiFab workforce has contracted from over 2,400 down to just 80 permanent employees and 50 on fixed-term contracts.

“If the contract for building these jackets does not go to these Scottish yards then the impact on the workers, their families and the fragile local economies they are located in will be devastating.

BiFab’s three yards – Arnish and facilities in Burntisland and Methil – build modules for the offshore oil and gas industry.

The MSPs said: “The renewable-energy industry could provide a lifeline to revitalise our indigenous fabrication, engineering and steel industry base.

“We hope, therefore, that SSE will consider its responsibilities to the wider Scottish community and economy in deciding on the award of this contract.”

GMB Scotland regional officer Jim Moohan said: “A lot of money from Scottish consumers will go to make the Beatrice project viable.

“GMB Scotland applauds this initiative by this cross party group of MSPs to ensure that Scottish workers get a fair slice of the fabrication work on this project to keep them and the yards in work.”

Beatrice Offshore Windfarm is a partnership between SSE Renewables (50%), Repsol Nuevas Energias UK (25%) and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (25%).

The proposed 84-turbine development is located on the north-western point of the Smith Bank, eight miles off the Caithness coast.

Consented by Marine Scotland in March 2014 and granted an investment contract by the UK government in May 2014, the project still awaits a final investment decision but is planned for construction next year.

SSE owns a 15% stake in BiFab which it acquired in 2010 for £11million.