CS Wind (UK) in administration: councillors, MP and MSP react

On the left, a section from an onshore tower, beside 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. NO_c37turbines01
CAPTION: The Machrihanish wind towers factory has had a tumultuous history since it was first opened in 2001. Photograph: Raymond Hosie.

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Last week, the Courier reported that CS Wind (UK), owner of the wind towers factory at Machrihanish Airbase Community Company Business Park, had gone into administration.

The plant has had a tumultuous history since it was opened in 2001 by Danish wind turbine company Vestas.

Eight years later, in 2009, when Vestas decided to close the facility, it was bought over by fellow Danish firm Skykon.

In 2011, Skykon filed for bankruptcy but, four months after going into administration, the factory was purchased by Wind Towers (Scotland) Limited, a joint venture between Scottish and Southern Energy and Marsh Wind Technology.

The Royal Hotel is completely hidden an off shore tower on the move.
The Royal Hotel is completely hidden an off shore tower on the move.

Five years later, in 2016, it was purchased by CS Wind (UK), a subsidiary of the South Korea-owned wind turbine tower manufacturing group.

Last year, the company began a managed wind-down and was effectively mothballed in the spring of that year.

At the time, a Scottish Government agency won a fight to block CS Wind (UK) from removing plant from the factory, which had received £3 million in taxpayer-funded grants from economic and community development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

All staff have now either left or been made redundant, resulting in the loss of 94 full-time positions.

The Courier asked Kintyre’s local elected representatives about their thoughts on the prospects for the factory’s future.

‘Hopefully this means CS Wind will now be out of the factory for good,’ said Councillor John Armour.

‘After hearing this news, I got in touch with council officers, Brendan O’Hara MP and Jenni Minto MSP to ask them to work with government, HIE, council and other agencies to find a way forward and find a new operator for this excellent facility which has so much potential.

‘I am happy to support them every step of the way.’

Councillor John Armour has encouraged people to take part in the consultation.
Councillor John Armour.

Councillor Donald Kelly said: ‘This will hopefully pave the way for another company to take over and develop the site.

‘If it is indeed another wind company that takes over, it will be required to guarantee continuity of employment if it hopes to attract local people to the facility.

‘We need to get away from the boom and bust scenarios which have surrounded all the previous owners and make sure that the various agencies involved step up to the plate and deliver for the community.’

Councillor Donald Kelly.

Councillor Rory Colville added: ‘The infrastructure is in place, assets must be secured and priority given to new ground-breaking industry, this time, hopefully, using Scottish, conceivably Argyll-based, innovation, skills and investment.’

Councillor Rory Colville.
Councillor Rory Colville.

Argyll and Bute MSP Jenni Minto and Brendan O’Hara, MP for the region, both said they were ‘very disappointed’ that administrators had been brought in.

Ms Minto said: ‘I immediately contacted and held discussions with HIE, Scottish Government Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise Ivan McKee, Councillor John Armour and Unite the Union and a positive is that everyone wants the same result – a factory supporting the renewables industry, employing skilled workers as part of the just transition to a sustainable and resilient community.

‘I am hosting a roundtable meeting in October with these stakeholders to further our aims.’

Jenni Minto – ‘my role is getting Argyll and Bute into the parliament on as regular a basis as I can’

Mr O’Hara said he would do all he could to work with those seeking to attract a new operator for the factory.

‘The people of South Kintyre have been badly let down by CS Wind (UK),’ he said, ‘but there is no reason why, in a Scottish renewables boom, that a company which had been at the forefront of building turbine towers could not tap into that market.

‘I am grateful to local councillor John Armour for all his work to ensure equipment bought with public funds stays on site, and to Jenni Minto MSP for organising for all partners to come together to find a way forward.

‘It is now up to HIE, Argyll and Bute Council, the Scottish Government and us, to find a new operator, one that will value the highly skilled local workforce, attract people back to the area to work, and make a positive contribution to Scotland’s renewables industry.’

Brendan O’Hara MP