BiFab goes into administration after missing out on windfarm contract

Scottish renewables contractor BiFab, which has bases two bases in Fife and one on Lewis, has gone into administration.

Thursday, 3rd December 2020, 10:10 am
Updated Thursday, 3rd December 2020, 12:50 pm
BiFab has had a tumultuous few years.

The company, which has which has yards in Burntisland and Methil, had previously been saved by the Scottish Government and Canadian firm JV Driver back in 2017.

A plan to manufacture eight wind turbine jackets as part of the Neart Na Gaoithe windfarm off the coast of Fife fell through, with both the UK and Scottish Governments saying their hands were tied by legal issues.

With the Scottish Government being a minority shareholder, it was unable to make further investment without support from JV Driver.

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In a statement, BiFab said: “BiFab can confirm that the board has agreed to place the company in administration following the Scottish Government’s decision to remove contract assurances.

“The company has worked tirelessly to bring jobs into Fife and Lewis with some success. However, the absence of supply chain protections in Scotland and the wider UK have consistently undermined our ability to compete with government-owned and government-supported yards outside and inside the European Union.

“We would urge the Scottish and UK Governments to address these structural challenges as a matter of urgency in order to ensure that the benefits of offshore renewables are shared more widely with communities across the country.”

A £2 billion deal for BiFab to manufacture eight wind turbine jackets at its yards in Methil as part of the Neart Na Gaoithe (NnG) project collapsed last month, and the UK and Scottish Governments have said they have no legal route to provide further financial support to the company.

Kirkcaldy MSP David Torrance, whose constituency contains two of BiFab’s yards, said: “I'm extremely disappointed to hear the breaking news this morning that BiFab has filed for administration.

"The company had so much potential, if JV Driver had only invested in it and if the UK Government had changed the rules around contract for difference, it would have allowed BiFab to compete on an even playing field with the rest of the world.

"The only positive from this is that if there are investors waiting in the wings, with the help of the Scottish Government they will be allowed to come in and invest in the company and take it forward to a positive future for the renewables sector and create jobs in the local area."

Joint Trade Union Secretaries Gary Smith and Pat Rafferty, of GMB Scotland & Unite Scotland have also issued a statement.

It said: “BiFab’s administration exposes the myth of Scotland’s renewables revolution as well as a decade of political hypocrisy and failure, in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

“The workers and communities dependent on these yards have fought so hard for a future and everyone was hoping that 2021 would finally be the turning point.

“Shamefully the Scottish Government has buried these hopes just in time for Christmas and they have worked together with UK Government in doing so.

“A decade on from the promise of a ‘Saudi Arabia of renewables’ and 28,000 full time jobs in offshore wind manufacturing, we’ve been left with industrial ruins in Fife and Lewis.”

Scottish Labour economy spokesperson Alex Rowley said: “This terrible news will come as a hammer blow to workers across Scotland and exposes the fraud that is the SNP’s claims of a renewables revolution.

“The failure of the SNP government to work with the company and the trade unions to find a way forward is unforgivable and the consequences of that failure is that Scotland will continue to lose out on thousands of jobs in the renewable sector.

“All possible options available to salvage the jobs must be put on the table. We cannot allow one of the jewels in the crown of Scottish manufacturing to be lost due to incompetence and a catastrophic lack of political will.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “The SNP Government’s incompetence has left an industrial wasteland. This was a golden opportunity to connect our battle against climate change with jobs in industrial communities across the country, but the government has wasted over £52 million creating a couple of hundred temporary jobs. The Bifab debacle has been little more than a very expensive publicity stunt.

“Ministers need a new plan to bring these jobs to Scotland, not yet another working group.

“EDF and Siapen must be called to Parliament to set out their plans to build the NNG jackets and whether they will build them in Scottish yards.”