Burntisland Fabrications

– in the Scottish Parliament on 30th May 2019.

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Photo of Claire Baker Claire Baker Labour

5. To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to recent reports concerning the awarding of contracts to, and the future of, BiFab. (S5O-03318)

Photo of Paul Wheelhouse Paul Wheelhouse Scottish National Party

We understand that the contract for the Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind project has not yet been awarded, so it would be inappropriate to speculate on potential future contract awards, which relate to commercial matters for the parties that are involved.

I reiterate that the Scottish Government fully supports the efforts of the industry, trade unions and campaigners to increase the number and value of contracts that are awarded to Scotland’s supply chain and we will continue to do what we can to ensure that a greater share of the work for offshore wind projects stays in Scotland.

Photo of Claire Baker Claire Baker Labour

Following the passionate speeches from MSPs across the chamber in yesterday’s BiFab debate, does the minister agree that EDF can be in no doubt about the strength of feeling in Scotland, which is also evident from the Fife ready for renewal campaign, that BiFab must benefit from the award of contracts for the NnG project? In the areas that are within the scope of the Scottish Government’s powers, will the minister agree to take action on the weaknesses in the current procurement and contracting system that are disadvantaging Scottish companies, which members identified yesterday?

Photo of Paul Wheelhouse Paul Wheelhouse Scottish National Party

On Claire Baker’s latter point, as Derek Mackay and I made clear yesterday, we are absolutely committed to using the powers that the Scottish Government has to try to maximise the opportunities. We are not prepared to tolerate the position that has emerged in recent years, in which contracts happen with limited content from the Scottish supply chain. As the cabinet secretary set out yesterday, we will potentially use the powers around decommissioning liabilities and the next Crown Estate leasing round to try to maximise opportunities.

On actions that others have to take, as we said yesterday, the United Kingdom Government must review the contracts for difference process and ensure that it is doing everything in its powers to maximise the chances for the supply chain. We were left in no doubt yesterday about the views of members in the chamber and the strength of feeling regarding Scotland’s need to get a fair share of the activity in such projects.

Photo of Mr Mark Ruskell Mr Mark Ruskell Green

I thought that the cabinet secretary, Derek Mackay, was quite clear yesterday that he intends to use his powers under the Scottish Crown Estate Act 2019 to influence leasing, to ensure that wind farms on the coast of Scotland are being built and manufactured here, which would support communities in Fife and elsewhere. Will that be too late for the

Neart na Gaoithe wind farm and others that are currently in the pipeline, which BiFab desperately needs to have contracts for in order to retain jobs at Methil and Arnish?

Photo of Paul Wheelhouse Paul Wheelhouse Scottish National Party

As I said in my original answer, there is obviously some sensitivity around the contracting process relating to EDF and its supply chain at this time and we cannot intervene directly in commercial matters. However, all developers will have been left in no doubt about the strength of feeling across the Parliament yesterday.

Mark Ruskell is absolutely correct that the cabinet secretary is looking very closely at how we use the powers that have come to us through the establishment of Crown Estate Scotland when we look at the next leasing round to ensure that we avoid a situation in which the supply chain misses out on the work.

On existing projects, we have to work closely with developers to identify challenges for particular supply chain companies, maximise their chance of winning work and make them as competitive as possible. However, people can be left in no doubt about how strongly we in Parliament feel.