Former Labour leader Ed Miliband has urged the UK Government to intervene on the “impasse” at BiFab, warning of a “scandal” if contracts that could be completed in the UK were given overseas.
In a letter to Business Secretary Alok Sharma, Labour MPs Mr Miliband and shadow minister for energy Alan Whitehead urge the government to prevent a collapse of the company.
BiFab dropped its contract to build eight turbine jackets for the Neart na Gaiothe (NnG) offshore wind project after the Scottish Government last week withdrew financial guarantees to support their manufacture.
Holyrood claimed it could no longer support the venture, laying the blame at owners JV Driver, a Canada-based company.
They added State Aid legislation would prevent them from providing additional financial support.
Impact on economy and environment
In their letter, Mr Miliband and Mr Whitehead warn the UK Government the loss of work in Fife will be economically and environmentally damaging.
They said: “As you will be aware, 2019’s Offshore Wind Sector Deal included a commitment from the sector to ‘increase UK content to 60 per cent by 2030, including increases in the capital expenditure phase’.
“Not only are we dismayed to see that early procurement of projects after that sector deal was agreed comes to far less than that, but we are concerned that if BiFab is lost, the UK will have virtually no capacity in mounting fabrication for the foreseeable future.
“In those circumstances, we fear that the target of UK content for offshore wind will become very hard to achieve, especially as BiFab’s positioning on the east coast places it in prime position for the projects due to come online for future windfarm development.”
‘Scottish Government declining to give support’
They added: “We understand that the Scottish Government, which are part owners of BiFab, have declined to provide immediate support.
“We consider that the UK Government, in the light of the continuing reservation of energy matters is in an excellent position to provide support, and thereby take a substantial step in securing UK content for our future offshore wind ambitions.
“Both the UK government and Scottish government have made lofty promises to make the UK the ‘Saudi Arabia of renewables’. It would be a scandal if the long-term manufacturing jobs and supply chains required to build the next generation of renewable power infrastructure just miles from yards like BiFab’s were lost overseas.”