During August this year, an average of 874 people have been directly employed on the project. Of those, 43 per cent are from Edinburgh, Lothian and Fife and 35 per cent are from other areas of Scotland. Those figures do not include the many others employed in the 365 Scotland-based firms that have to date been awarded subcontracts and supply orders on the project. Recruitment will continue throughout the project, with all job opportunities advertised in local jobcentres.
Can the cabinet secretary justify to this Parliament why an accommodation ship is moored in the River Forth for over 100 Spaniards working on the new Forth crossing, along with a freight ship with all the requisite food from Spain, which is denying local shops and businesses much-needed trade? That is against a background where Fife still experiences very troubling high levels of unemployment.
I am more than happy to meet Helen Eadie to discuss any particular issues of local concern, but I really think that we should be focusing on the massive positive economic benefit of the Queensferry crossing that is being delivered not just to Fife and Edinburgh but to communities across Scotland.
Let me give a few statistics that underline the importance of the project. As of June this year, 216 out of 368 subcontracts went to Scottish companies, along with almost 8,000 of the almost 11,000 supply orders, which is 90 per cent. We have 874 people directly employed in building the Forth replacement crossing. We see 365 Scottish firms already benefiting from subcontracts and supply orders worth a total of about £143 million. Those are fantastic benefits to local economies and to Scotland. It is about time that Labour started acknowledging that, rather than criticising the project.