Lesley Laird MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland. Both the UK and Scottish governments have put climate change at the top of their agenda. Yet, despite the newfound enthusiasm for all things green, there is an irony in the fact that this golden opportunity to be a world leader in the market may simply pass Scotland by. BiFab, nestled on the coast of Fife, ran into financial difficulties at the end of 2017. It was saved by the determination of its workers to keep it alive and by a rescue package from Canadian company DF Barnes and the Scottish Government. At that moment there was an optimism that the yard could be saved. Unfortunately from that moment on, there has been very little progress. The workers have gone, the yard remains but lays dormant. I have been in discussions with key stakeholders, EDF, DF Barnes who own the yards, and the STUC, whose campaign Ready for Renewal is focused on ensuring that the latest round of contracts being awarded by EDF for the Neart na Gaoithe project do not pass these workers and their communities by. The project is being built just off of the Fife coastline and just 10 miles from the BiFab yards. With the industry developing it is now clear that there is strong consolidation around core companies and countries such as Spain, Denmark and United Arab Emirates. Many of these emerging facilities are increasingly state owned or the respective government subsidises them substantially. Bifab have already lost out in winning any work from the Kincardine and Moray contracts. The bid process for the NnG project is live. The opportunity is there to be seized. But there are challenges. The yard needs investment. But the raw materials are all there – they just require investment now to ensure that we do not lose sight of the strategic opportunity that this contract provides. Now is the time to commit and to act. The Scottish Government has a tremendous opportunity here to use its stake, just as other national governments have done, to commit to a tangible up-front investment in the yards. That will not only open the door to securing work from the NnG contract, but will ensure that Scotland gains a strategic foothold in the Green Industrial Revolution. The UK Government cannot be allowed off the hook either. The Offshore Sector Deal was lauded as revolutionary when it was released a few months ago, but if we are serious about becoming a world leader in the industry then we must start now and both governments must work together.
Scotsman 17th June 2019 read more »