Scotland should be reaping the wind jobs

The first ever large-scale offshore tower being produced at CS Wind UK, for the Walney Project owned by DONG energy. Photograph by Raymond Hosie.

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Unions have welcomed new measures to take a harder line with the offshore wind industry, but said this must be the start of change and not the end.

Pat Rafferty and Gary Smith, the Scottish secretaries of Unite and GMB, gave a joint statement after a summit in Edinburgh last week to discuss the  closure of CS Wind in Campbeltown and the ongoing lack of work linked to the massive investments in wind farm and other renewable technology coming into the country.

Following the event, the Scottish Government announced that Scottish companies will benefit from new steps to increase the number of offshore wind contracts staying in Scotland.

Developers will have to agree on supply-chain commitments when applying for offshore wind leases, under an agreement between the Scottish Government and Crown Estate Scotland.

Representatives from the UK Government, trades unions, and industry attended the Scottish Offshore Wind Sector Summit in Edinburgh to discuss solutions to the issues facing the offshore wind supply chain.

Mr Rafferty and Mr Smith said in the statement: ‘We welcome these long overdue measures announced today by the Scottish Government in taking a harder line with the industry – but this must be the start of change and not the end.

‘The truth is it’s been a decade of failure for job creation in Scotland’s offshore wind sector.

‘In 2011 employment in Scotland’s offshore wind sector was forecast to be 28,000 direct jobs and 20,000 indirect jobs by 2020.

‘We are nowhere near that and in the last few months redundancy notices have been handed out at supply chain firms like BiFab and CS Wind.

‘In the same period, industry majors like SSE have been subsidised to the tune of billions of pounds of public money through the UK Government’s Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme, with no link at all to domestic job creation commitments.

‘It’s a scandalous story of missed opportunities and ultimately one of industrial and political failure.

‘Without a detailed industrial plan involving the industry and a substantial programme of investment for our supply chain, our green jobs revolution will continue to be delivered in Spain, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Indonesia and China – anywhere but Scotland.’

Speaking after the meeting, Derek Mackay MSP, Economy Secretary, admitted: ‘Scotland is the ideal location for offshore wind, but recent projects have not delivered the significant economic opportunities we want to see for Scottish businesses.

‘The Scottish Government has been calling for the offshore sector to do more by awarding contracts to our indigenous supply chain, but recent disappointments suggest that more has to be done.’

He pledged: ‘I will use every lever at our disposal to ensure that our renewables supply chain benefits from the expansion of offshore wind in our waters, leading to the creation and retention of Scottish jobs.

‘The measures agreed with Crown Estate Scotland will help to release more of those economic benefits for the Scottish economy and ensure that the Scottish-based supply chain is considered when tendering for work or making long-term conditions.’

The minister was joined by Colin Palmer, director of marine for Crown Estate Scotland who added: ‘Scotland has unique potential when it comes to offshore wind and we’re committed to doing all we can to unlock that opportunity. ScotWind Leasing will present Scotland as an attractive destination for the significant investment needed to deliver the scale of offshore wind projects we want to see.’

‘Nothing further’

Employment was on the agenda at Campbeltown Community Council’s meeting last week.

Chairman Alan Baker said: ‘We discussed the unemployment in the area due to various redundancies that were issued, namely at Campbeltown Creamery and CS Wind.

‘It was felt that after the initial meeting at the MACC premises that nothing further has been forthcoming.

‘There is also to be a meeting in March with Fergus Ewing MSP to discuss further action.’

The Courier asked both Mr Ewing’s office and the press office at the Scottish Government but no one could confirm the meeting was taking place, or when, by the time we went to press.