There have been charges of dishonesty and inaccuracy against the Scottish government, which argues that the lack of financial support from the Canadian owner of BiFab is to blame for the company’s issues.
As part of the Neart Na Gaoithe (NnG) initiative, a £ 2 billion contract for Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab) to produce eight wind turbine shells at its yards in Methil, Fife, collapsed last month.
In the U.K. And the Scottish government has said that it has no legal means to continue financially supporting the firm. After the Scottish government rescued BiFab in 2017, the company was acquired by Canada-based JV Driver in April 2018.
‘No valid way’ to bail out BiFab, say the governments of the UK and Scotland
Scottish Business Secretary Fiona Hyslop said on Tuesday that the “unwillingness” of the parent company and majority shareholder JV Driver to provide BiFab with working capital, expenditure or assurances was the key issue that led to the problems.
In a statement released today, however, BiFab said, “Scottish ministers continue to focus on the alleged lack of investment, guarantees and capital by JV Driver as the main cause of the current situation of the company.”
“This could not be further from the truth.”
BiFab said that JV Driver has offered on several occasions to pass any or all of its shares in BiFab to the Scottish Treasury at no expense to the Scottish Treasury, in view of the increasing state aid challenges facing Scottish ministers in the early 2020s, but ministers have never pursued this.
The company said, “This offer was made to allow Scottish ministers an ownership position that, if and when needed, could support further investment.”
“This offer was never pursued by Scottish ministers. That offer still stands today.”
The company claimed that BiFab and its management had no access to, and were not approached by, the BiFab working group set up by the UK and Scottish governments or had the opportunity to approach them.
BiFab added:’ In the current situation, Scottish ministers often refer to the absence of a long-term business strategy as a secondary causative factor.
Unions attack ‘lack of transparency’ over the inability of ministers to justify the about-face of BiFab’s
“This is wrong again. Before taking over BiFab, JV Driver delivered a multi-stage business plan to Scottish ministers.
BiFab said several countries have local supply chain protections that restrict the scope of international procurement for major energy infrastructure projects, but that there is no such regulation in Scotland or the UK as a whole.
The consequence is that the Middle East and Asia are losing thousands of well-paying manufacturing workers, and only Scottish and U.K. ministers have the power to reform these policies, BiFab said.
The firm said it eventually looks like the NnG project, along with the 400 to 500 jobs it promised to build, would be lost to BiFab.
It said, “As a result of recent correspondence with Scottish ministers, it is clear that there will be no creditor support from Scottish ministers required to pursue critical BiFab solutions.”
“Although we are incredibly disappointed, BiFab management continues to explore all options available to the company.”
Gary Smith and Pat Rafferty, the Scottish secretaries of the GMB and Unite unions, called the situation a ‘growing scandal.’
“The signal this sends to the renewables industry is clear: it is business as usual,” they added.
The employment of the future will continue to be exported to the rest of the world and funded by the taxpayer to the tune of billions.’
“At best, the UK will get scraps from its own offshore wind market, but it looks like both governments have buried any credible hope of a meaningful green jobs recovery in Scotland.”
The Scottish Government can not regret the fact that it is a minority shareholder with no seat on the board, while at the same time turning down chances to step up and become a controlling shareholder,” said Scottish Greens energy spokesman and Fife MSP Mark Ruskell.”
Bifab is in desperate need of a recovery plan that secures transitional work and preserves the promised green jobs