Is there hope for CS Wind?

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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After Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) went to court to stop South Korean manufacturers from removing equipment from CS Wind UK’s Machrihanish factory comes news from the firm that it is actively looking for more orders for the wind tower construction plant.

An interim interdict was agreed at the Court of Session last month by Lord Ericht; this follows on from one issued in December last year.

The move by HIE does allow the company to remove finished towers to fulfil its remaining orders.

The enterprise company said that it took this formal step to protect the assets at Machrihanish and make sure the factory is capable of working again; CS Wind has informed HIE that is working to win new orders.

At its height the Machrihanish factory had a workforce of more than 130; last October came the news that the then 94 employees faced redundancy. Now it is believed only six remain at the closed-down plant; attempts by the Courier to contact CS Wind for comment have gone unanswered.

As well as more than £3 million of government funds pumped into the operation via HIE, there was a £27 millon investment from Siemens, leading wind farm developers, back in 2016.

In 2018 the pre-tax profits of the business were £7.1 million and its annual report that year said the coming financial year looked positive ‘with a further increase in production volume expected’.

A spokesman for the company, based in South Korea, is on record with a national paper as saying that it was involved in discussions with HIE and that new orders were being sought: ‘There is fluctuation in this kind of business so manufacture can stop operation sometimes and start again through rehiring.’

But Pat Rafferty, Scottish secretary of the union Unite said: ‘The fact that an injunction has been taken out against the company to prevent it from asset stripping equipment is unheard of and highlights the major concerns which governmental bodies hold regarding the intentions of CS Wind.

‘The factory should be one of the crown jewels in Scotland’s renewables industry as it manufactures onshore and offshore wind turbines, but it has been lying idle for months now.

‘It’s time the owners of CS Wind moved on to other shores in order to allow alternative ownership options to come forward, including forms of public ownership so that we can work towards guaranteeing the factory a successful future.’

The future of CS Wind UK, which is capable of producing both onshore towers, left, and offshore towers, right, is uncertain. NO_c11cswind01