The Scottish government looks ready, finally, to pull the plug on struggling Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab). The manufacturer, owned almost a third by taxpayers, has now lost out on contracts to work on two massive offshore wind farms that will be built in Scottish waters. Last week the government warned in a leaked document that it was unlikely “to continue providing ongoing support to BiFab in its current form”. Canadian owner DF Barnes, which responded in 2018 to an invitation from the SNP to take on the business when it was threatened with administration, appears ready to cut its losses too. So much for all that talk of an “energy revolution”, creating 28,000 direct jobs in offshore wind in Scotland and £7.1bn of investment. This should be a lesson to the SNP that throwing taxpayers’ money at something for a quick headline — at least £40m in the case of BiFab — is not a substitute for a proper strategic plan for Scotland’s future industry and economy. In case you missed it, DF Barnes withdrew its bid for work on the Neart na Gaoithe (NnG) wind farm project following a refusal by the Scottish government, which has a 32% stake in BiFab, to abide by an earlier commitment to provide financial guarantees for the contract. The abrupt volte-face by the Scottish government, based on an apparent sudden recognition that the guarantee violated European Union state aid rules, doesn’t ring true. The government appears to have belatedly realised this too. It now says that its decision was also based on a consideration of “the prospects and performance” of the business. The government insists it is merely a “minority shareholder” in the business, therefore it is up to BiFab’s majority shareholder, DF Barnes, to invest more.
Times 25th Oct 2020 read more »
MINISTERS stand to lose up to £52.4m of taxpayers money after pulling the rug under state-owned renewables manufacturer Burntisland Fabrication (BiFab) which is now believed to be on the brink of financial collapse. The Herald on Sunday can reveal that ministers signed off on what was a secret £30m guarantee to support Bifab last year before doing a U-turn after the failure of an important contract, leaving fears that the company faces liquidation.
Herald 25th Oct 2020 read more »