Scotland is missing out on offshore wind farm jobs while English yards are “booming”, says a former SNP government minister.
New research from the House of Commons reveals developments in the north of England are seeing turbine construction and a jobs boom.
Kenny MacAskill, former SNP justice secretary and Alba MP, said the “rhetoric of the Saudi Arabia of wind isn’t matching the reality onshore in Scotland”.
He claims yards at Arnish on the Isle of Lewis and the former Bi-Fab yard at Methil, Fife, are “lying idle and workers seeing employment” and has called for governments to take action to deliver more jobs north of the border.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously said he wants to make a “big bet” on renewables and turn the UK into the “Saudi Arabia” of wind power.
The Siemens Gamesa facility in Hull is one of the sites that will receive funding via the UK Government’s Offshore Wind Manufacturing Investment Support Scheme.
The yard, which opened in 2016, has produced more than 1,500 blades to customers worldwide and employs around 1,000 people directly, according to the Commons research.
In August the plant announced £186 million plans to expand to more than double its existing size by 2023, adding another 200 direct jobs.
Meanwhile, a new GE plant in Teeside, expected to create 750 direct renewable energy jobs and “close to 1,500 indirect jobs in the area”, is due to open in 2023.
‘We’ve got the yards and the skills’
Mr MacAskill claims former Bi-Fab yards in Fife and at Arnish on the Isle of Lewis are “sitting idle” and should replicate the success of their English counterparts.
It was revealed this week that the former Bi-Fab fabrication yard at Arnish landed its first external contract since being taken over by Harland and Wolff earlier this year.
In April, the company’s Methil yard in Fife won a £26 million deal with Saipem for the fabrication and load-out of eight wind turbine generator (WTG) jacket foundations on the Neart na Gaoithe (NnG) Offshore Wind Farm in the outer Firth of Forth.
Mr MacAskill said: “The rhetoric of the Saudia Arabia of wind isn’t matching the reality onshore in Scotland.
“With 25% 0f Europe’s offshore wind resource we’re hardly figuring in onshore jobs.
“Boris Johnson is ensuring that developments off the North of England are seeing turbine construction and jobs boom.
“Where’s ours here in Scotland with Bifab and Arnish lying idle and workers seeking employment?
“We’ve got the yards and the skills and now need the work.
“The Scottish Government might not have the full powers needed but they’re still the government.
“They should be able to deliver some contracts and jobs onshore. Their current failure is lamentable.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We are fully committed to delivering a greener, fairer future for everyone and are using all of our devolved powers to deliver a just transition that delivers more for all of Scotland.
“This includes a £500m Just Transition Fund to support the north east as one of Scotland’s centres of excellence for the transition to a net zero economy, a £100 million Green Jobs Fund and, through the Green Work Force Academy, a skills guarantee to help workers in carbon-intense sectors to reskill.”
A UK Government spokeswoman said: “The energy industry in Scotland is one of the UK’s great success stories and we are committed to helping the industry and employment in the sector develop further.
“We are investing £380m in our world-leading offshore wind sector, which will secure jobs and benefits in Scotland and across the UK.
“This is on top of our ambitions for floating offshore wind, which will offer substantial opportunities in Scotland.”