A new row has erupted over the future of beleaguered Fife firm BiFab after the company’s Canadian owners were accused of not doing enough to secure an offshore contract that would support 450 jobs.
Speaking at a special meeting of Fife Council on Thursday, SNP co-leader David Alexander alleged DF Barnes were “not putting their money where their mouth is” after negotiation to build jackets for wind turbines to be installed off the coast of Fife by French outfit EDF, broke down.
DF Barnes cited a refusal by the Scottish Government to provide £30 million in financial guarantees but cabinet secretary Fiona Hyslop told Holyrood last week EU state aid rules prevented more public money being spent.
Fife Council representatives are due to meet again with Ms Hyslop on Monday.
Mr Alexander said DF Barnes could not expect public money to bear all the risks of the project and said BiFab was only still in existence because of the Scottish Government.
“Almost £50 million of public money has been put in to keep BiFab afloat.
“DF Barnes are the ones driving this and the Scottish Government has done as much as it can.
“I have no doubt that money from the Scottish Government will be available if DF Barnes come forward but DF Barnes are not putting their money where their mouth is.”
Mr Alexander also noted failed legal challenges from RSPB Scotland had stalled major wind projects, impacting BiFab’s chances.
“We’re trying to get BiFab to win contracts when they are not a going concern. If this had happened when BiFab was a going concern, we would not have had a problem.”
His council co-leader, Labour’s David Ross, said the current crisis appears to be the Scottish Government’s making.
Labour councillor Colin Davidson described Mr Alexander’s comments as “reckless, without foundation and regrettable”.
Calling on the two council leaders to push the Scottish Government on Monday to reveal its renewable energy investment plans, Mr Davidson said: “I’d like to reiterate our determination to do all we can to support DF Barnes, the workforce and the out of work employees to get them the investment they need to secure orders.”
Fellow Levenmouth Labour councillor Ryan Smart also said the comments were “seriously detrimental” and accused Mr Alexander and the SNP of putting party politics above the needs of local communities.
“They should retract the statements about blaming DF Barnes.
“Local members at all levels are very keen to keep working with the Team Scotland approach rather than singling out one or two members and defending the Scottish Government at all costs.”
Sources close to DF Barnes said they were surprised by the comments as, in their view, the Scottish Government had always been the primary financier behind the project.