The Scottish Government should not lease seabed off the coast of Fife and Tayside without the guarantee of local jobs, it has been argued.
The demand has come as part of Fife’s Ready for Renewal campaign, which has called for the delivery of high quality, sustainable jobs in the region’s renewables sector in light of the difficulties faced by the BiFab yards in Methil and Burntisland.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn used a Scottish Trades Union Council (STUC) rally in Kirkcaldy on Saturday to call for a “green industrial revolution” and his calls have been echoed by Green MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife Mark Ruskell, who believes ministers at Holyrood and Westminster could and should go a step further to protect the local workforce.
BiFab is expected to be given work for eight of the 53 jacket foundations needed for the Neart Na Gaoithe (NnG) offshore wind farm but unions here have branded that a “paltry return” given the fact most of the work is destined for Italian oil and gas contractor Saipem’s base thousands of miles away in Indonesia.
With the finished structures to be sitting little more than 10 miles away from the eastern Scottish shoreline, Mr Ruskell insists there is a need to look again at how French firm EDF, which bought the NnG project, has been able to overlook local workers.
He said: “Both the Scottish and UK governments need to take action now to protect jobs.
“There should be no offshore wind farm leases issued from the Crown Estate without the guarantee of local jobs. Likewise, Westminster should make generation subsidies conditional on there being local content.
“No work for Fife should mean no lease and no subsidy.
“A Scottish Green New Deal means local jobs but it will also need free movement in the EU to be protected to grow the workforce.
“We can’t rely on the dead hand of the free market to grow jobs.
“Oil and gas companies will extract every last drop until production goes over the cliff and takes communities dependent on the jobs with it. That’s why we need a Scottish Green New Deal to plan now and ensure no workers are left behind.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are committed to doing everything within our devolved competence to increase Scottish content in offshore wind projects.
“All parties are currently working collaboratively in respect of the ongoing commercial discussions on the NnG project.
“As a result, it would not be appropriate to comment on the specifics of this project at this time but we will continue to encourage all parties to work towards a positive outcome to ensure the success of BiFab, and the wider supply chain in Fife.”
A Crown Estate Scotland spokesman has provided a glimmer of hope by revealing preparations are being finalised for its new leasing process for offshore wind in Scotland, called ScotWind Leasing.
“Our aim is for this process to attract investment to Scotland to help reduce climate change emissions and enable wider socio-economic benefits for communities,” the spokesman added, although no firm details have yet emerged.