Energy Park jobs boom just over the horizon

Fife Energy Park'Methil'Tam Pelan picture'Use for EAST FIFE MAIL only.
Fife Energy Park'Methil'Tam Pelan picture'Use for EAST FIFE MAIL only.

Some “big, big, players” in the renewable energy sector are sounding out Methil’s Energy Park on a regular basis, it has been claimed.

At Wednesday’s meeting of Levenmouth’s area councillors, a report on the proposed £16m second phase of development at the park, which includes a potential to increase its size through land reclamation, were discussed.

However, crucially to local people with regard to potential jobs for the area, set dates were outlined to have in place over 800 positions at the site within the next eight years.

Councillors heard an agreed development services plan has estimated that 808 jobs will be created at the Energy Park by 2019.

Area committee chair, Councillor David Alexander, said: “What I like about this report are the dates that have been set out.

“If these jobs are not in place by 2019 then, if we’re still sitting here, people can come back and ask why.

“It’s set us a target – and that’s something that we’ve never had before.”

Fife Council’s economic adviser, Glynn Scott, told the meeting the jobs would be likely to range across a host of sectors, from welding and fabricating to administration, office work and health and safety.

He added that one current resident in the park, Bi-Fab, was currently waiting for a new contract to start on jacket building so is going through a “lull” presently.

He added: “We have had a number of enquiries from big, big players from the renewable sector regarding the park.

“It will be around 2013 or 14 when their orders come in and then they can really commit.”

The committee heard how development on the site was still important, as it may not presently be able to host another company with size demands on the scale of Bi-Fab.

The Crown Estate has announced several phases of offshore windfarm developments around waters in the UK.

It’s claimed the Scottish developments have the potential to generate sufficient energy to meet all of the country’s electricity demands.

Methil has been identified as one of only 12 priority sites in Scotland which can service the industry’s deep water access needs.

Councillor Andrew Rodger raised the point of education and training in the sector for Levenmouth’s young people so that the jobs can stay in the area, and was told there are currently on-going discussions with colleges regarding this, while St Andrews University had also indicated it would be interested in some sort of presence on the site.

Cllr Arthur Robertson said: “This is one of the biggest things to happen here for a long, long time.

“The potential is fantastic.”

A third phase of the development is also now being considered and will include further land reclamations and road improvements made in Buckhaven and Methil. The development of the renewable energy sector is considered a core element of the Scottish Government’s economic strategy, with the Energy Park important to its delivery.

It’s suggested in the council report that the park will help contribute to roughly 2000 jobs being created in the Kingdom by firms in the sector and other companies in the supply chain.

From old King Coal to oil, gas and the green tide

AS Methil’s Kvaerner offshore fabrication yard ground to a halt in 2001, the Fife Energy Park arrived in its wake.

In 2004 the Mail reported on the first murmurings of the “potential” to unlock the dockland area as a business yard for renewable energy.

Peter Holt, who was general manager of the site, appealed for its development, saying the area had always been associated with energy from coal, through to oil and gas and on towards renewables.

He claimed Methil could “rise to the top” if more businesses could be attracted to the 133-acre site.

The same year, MSP Christine May said she and others were working towards making the park a reality, before in July 2006 the official blueprint for the park was announced.

It was said the park would inject more than £130m into the economy, create several hundred jobs and generate more than £65m of new investment for the Levenmouth area.

The project would also inject £172m into Scotland’s economy by 2015 and that by 2010, 40 per cent of Scotland’s electricity would be provided by green sources.

That figure was around 30 per cent at 2011.