Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Former UK energy minister calls on Scottish Government to ‘come clean’ about BiFab Arnish agreement

Brian Wilson, former UK energy minister.
Brian Wilson, former UK energy minister.

A former UK energy minister has called on the Scottish Government to “come clean” about the terms of a lease agreement for a mothballed BiFab yard on Lewis.

Brian Wilson, former UK energy minister under Tony Blair, said the current lease agreement has been “shrouded in secrecy” by Holyrood and must be made public to remove any barrier to trade at the Arnish premises and bring new work to the Western Isles.

It comes as BiFab owners DF Barnes revealed last week that the Scottish Government had pulled support for the firm and placed future contracts in serious doubt.

DF Barnes said the removal of assurances from Holyrood made any contract to provide eight turbine jackets for the NnG Offshore Wind Farm “very challenging”.

The Arnish yard is understood to be leased to BiFab but owned by the Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Mr Wilson said: “It’s pretty clear that BiFab have no ongoing interest in Arnish and the critical point is that if there are companies who could bring work to Lewis then there must be an open door to them – there must not be a barrier.

“Nobody in the community knows the terms of the agreement between the Scottish Government and BiFab as far as Arnish is concerned – it’s shrouded in secrecy.

“We need to know what is needed to make the yard viable and if another company could access it if they wanted to.”

Following the news that the Scottish Government would no longer be backing BiFab, the remaining maintenance crew at Arnish were handed redundancy notices by the firm on Thursday.

One former BiFab worker based on Lewis, who did not want to be named, said: “We asked Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) for the terms of the lease agreement between themselves and BiFab and they told us it was private and confidential – but they should divulge it now.

“BiFab have been here for 12 years, but over the last eight or nine years the yard has been closed more than it has been open.

“Arnish has now reached a crossroads. BiFab need to renege the lease and let companies come in and make a go of the yard.”

GMB Scotland organiser Hazel Nolan accused the Scottish Government of leading communities dependent on the success of BiFab’s yards “up the garden path for the last decade over Scotland’s green jobs prospects”.

She added: “The local community on Lewis are right to be furious and they are right to demand answers – all the difficult questions are the Scottish Government’s to answer.”

The Scottish Government last night refused to respond directly but said HIE hold direct responsibility for the Arnish lease to BiFab.

Already a subscriber? Sign in