Ill wind blows letter to turbine company

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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Elected representatives of the Kintyre area have joined forces with Unite the Union to issue an open letter to the South Korean owners of CS Wind urging them to seek orders for the plant or let others take over the operation.

Four councillors, the MP and the MSP have signed the document in the hope of securing employment and a place in the renewables industry for the Macrihanish-based wind turbine company.

They have copied the letter to Paul Wheelhouse, the Scottish Government Energy Minister, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Argyll and Bute Council and have given a commitment to campaign locally on this issue when Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

MSP Michael Russell and Unite the Union regional officer Charlie McDonald said: ‘We are keen to see a vibrant, successful renewable industry in Scotland and CS Wind has the opportunity to be a vital part of that, providing high quality employment in Kintyre.

‘But the company must be active in seeking work and if it had decided not to participate it must also be honest about that and allow a different structure to emerge which will ensure the skilled work force can contribute to local and national success.’

The letter was sparked following a spate of redundancies at CS Wind last year and its failure in securing contracts for the Scottish factory despite it being the only one in the country.

The signatories further note that, although the company stated gaining new work was a key aim, they had been informed by developers that CS Wind had not been willing to bid for many suitable contracts.

The letter states: ‘We are sure you are aware of the potential that exists for a company that is, as CS Wind has been as a result of the skills and effort of those who have worked there, efficient and productive.

‘It is likely demand for new on shore and off shore turbines will, given projections of applications for energy consent already submitted, due, scoped, being scoped or in preliminary talks, be for at least 1,500 towers.

‘We believe your company would be strongly positioned to bid for a significant proportion of those units. We are also informed developers would like to place contracts with you and support a Scottish renewables manufacturing industry.

‘However, if you maintain your current stance and either refuse to bid or claim that you are unable to do so, developers will have to seek towers elsewhere, outside Kintyre and Scotland. Meanwhile your company will continue to occupy a prime site in an unproductive way, preventing any other potential manufacturer from utilising the facility for which you have had substantial support from Scottish Government agencies and leaving a skilled workforce unemployed or forced to move from the area.’

The signatory group plan to hold a public meeting in Campbeltown when Covid-19 guidelines permit them to do so.

The signatories are: Pat Rafferty, regional secretary, and Charlie McDonald, regional officer, Unite the Union; Kenny Cunningham and David McCallum, senior shop stewards, CS Wind; Michael Russell MSP; Brendan O’Hara MP and Argyll and Bute councillors John Armour, Donald Kelly, Rory Colville and Anne Horn.