An article by Kenny MacAskill MP
Energy Rich Scotland – Fuel Poor Scots
The loss of a state asset and the loss of jobs
Offshore wind should see Scotland benefit from its natural resource and it’s people have access to affordable fuel. Moreover, it should provide for Scottish businesses to benefit from its location and create jobs for Scottish workers.
But one windfarm situated just off the coast of Fife shows the failure of UK and Scottish Governments to achieve that. It also highlights the absurdity of ownership being with foreign state-owned companies and jobs going to businesses outside Scotland and to foreign workers.
Neart na Gaoithe is the site of an offshore wind farm situated just 15.5 kilometres off the coast of Fife and covering an area of 105 square kilometres. It will produce up to 450 Mega Watts from its 54 turbines enough energy to power around 375,000 homes. The energy will be landed in East Lothian where work is ongoing near Torness.
The site is jointly owned by ESB Energy and EDF Renewables UK. EDF Renewables is a wholly owned subsidiary of theEDF Group, Electricite de France the French state-owned power company. Electricity Supply Board, ESB, is the state-owned electricity company of the Republic of Ireland.
So, ownership of an asset just over ten miles from the coast of Fife lies with State-owned companies with profits not going to Edinburgh or even London, but instead to Paris and Dublin.
What about the businesses to supply it and the jobs to be created by it? Where are they going?
Fife is home to BiFab but no turbines are being constructed there for the site. Instead, they are being manufactured by Siemens Gamesa at Hull on the Humber. The turbines will be assembled at the Port of Dundee, but the high value contract and the high paid jobs are in construction not assembly.
The foundations for the turbines will be supplied and installed by Saipem. Saipem is a company subject to the joint control of Eni Spa and CDP Equity Spa. Eni Spa is an Italian energy company and CDP Equity is an Italian sovereign wealth fund
The wind turbines are only being assembled at the Port of Dundee they are then transported by Fred Olsen Ocean windcarriers, which is subsidiary of Bonheur, an Oslo listed holding company of the Fred Olsen Group.
DEME Offshore, a Belgian solutions provider in the renewables industry, is installing the inter-array and interconnector cables. This will include 12 separate 66 kilovolt array strings which will connect the wind turbines generator to the offshore substations. The interconnector will connect the offshore substations together allowing the wind turbines to export electricity through the cables.
The contracts aren’t coming to Scotland but what about the jobs?
NnG operations will be based out of Eyemouth, although some preparatory maritime works are operating out of Montrose. The offshore wind farm is in Scottish and UK territorial waters. But UK crew are currently being paid off and cheaper foreign crews are being recruited.
The Solstad Offshore vessel, Normand Navigator involved with the Neart na Goaithe (NnG) Offshore wind farm project has just terminated the contracts of UK national seafarers in favour of foreign workers. UK nationals were hired to replace crew members from the Philippines as the deadline of the “Offshore wind workers Immigration Rules concession 2017” was approaching.
However, a recent extension of the concession on the 31st of October until the 30th of April 2023, by the UK Government has meant that Solstad has decided to immediately terminate all of the British crew working onboard in favour of bringing in a cheaper crew. 36 UK seafarers are losing their jobs with Solstad. Solstad gave their employees verbal notice of their contracts being terminated on the 5th November 2022, with written notice given on the 10th November 2022, but only receiving 3 days’ pay from Solstad. Many of the crew have given up fulltime contracted employment, and now have no income coming in during the cost of living crisis. Other and even bigger contractors have been lobbying and there are fears that further companies will follow suit.
So, as well as the contracts going abroad, so are the jobs.
A windfarm just 15 kilometres off the Fife coast is owned by the State Electricity companies of France and Ireland. The Turbines are being manufactured by a Spanish company at a yard in England. They’re then being taken to the windfarm by a Norwegian boat to be hooked up by cable laid by a Belgian firm. Taken ashore by cable laid by an Italiancompany to make profits for the citizens of France and the Republic of Ireland.
Meanwhile, a Scottish yard lies desolate in Fife and companies across Scotland are struggling to survive. At the same time Scottish and UK seafarers are being made redundant in favour of cheaper foreign labour. And all the while Scots are freezing in their homes unable to pay their electricity bills even when many can see turbines from their homes.
Enough is enough – there should be a Scottish State Energy Company taking a stake in every field and with contracts and jobs coming to Scottish firms and Scottish workers. We were promised a windfall and supply chain jobs – where are they?
Energy Rich Scotland Should Not have Fuel Poor Scots
The NRS Household estimates of households and dwellings 2019 publication details that there were estimated to be 238,269 households
Kenny highlights how Scotland, through allowing others to control our natural assets loses much of the potential benefits than could be realised just by better management and planning. There is so much wrong with this model and Salvo has recently revealed a whole new related issue which I hope will finally shake Scots out of this lethargy that has allowed this to develop. We should all be grateful for Kenny working so hard to highlight these wrongs. More power to him.
I am, as always
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