Fife’s windfarm contract fight leads to public meeting challenge to EDF

BiFab, Fife Energy Park (Pic: JT Morkis)
BiFab, Fife Energy Park (Pic: JT Morkis)

Energy workers and the wider community in Leven Kirkcaldy and Burntisland have challenged French multinational EDF to attend a community meeting this week to respond to reports that work from the £2billion offshore windfarm, NNG, will not provide jobs in Fife.

The meeting comes after revelations that the electric utility company plans to ship work in fabricating wind turbine jackets abroad to Indonesia – instead of building them in Fife yards, which are currently lying empty and idle a mere 10-miles from the site of the proposed windfarm which will host the turbines.

The meeting takes place at Buckhaven Community Education Centre on Thursday from 6.00 pm when an alliance of trade unionists, community groups, elected representatives and environmental campaigners will come together to demand answers from EDF.

The ‘Fife Ready for Renewal’ campaign is comprised of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), GMB and Unite, and is attracting support from community groups and the wider public, as well as environmental campaign group, Friends of the Earth.

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EDF’s plan has come under intense scrutiny, as it will see massive steel structures shipped abroad two at a time per ship – requiring over 30 journeys – generating carbon emissions equivalent to millions of cars on the road.

Grahame Smith, General Secretary of the STUC, said: “This is an opportunity for EDF to engage with the community on Thursday, to discuss the future of the industry in Fife and their plans for construction of the turbine jackets.

There is a proud industrial history in Fife, and workers are standing ready to help deliver the much needed renewable energy infrastructure.

We urge EDF to do the right thing and listen to the community this Thursday, and commit to building the jackets here.”

Meanwhile, Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister, who was MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, has thrown his weight behind the yards’ campaign for the contracts.

Jobs of the future is one of the key themes in a new book History Of Fife, written by former Prime Minister and launched this week by Kirkcaldy MP Gordon Brown.

Mr Brown and co-author, the broadcaster and historian Alistair Moffat have particularly highlighted the local renewables industry .

He said: “It is nothing less than a national scandal that the contract for billions of pounds of wind farms a few miles off the coast of Fife is tipped to be awarded to an Indonesian yard 7000 miles away.

“This is despite promises from both Scottish and UK governments that 60 per cent of offshore renewable work would come to workers and communities here.

“Near to my home the once-vibrant Burntisland and Methil yards, that for years built up an expertise in wind turbines, are lying empty.

“And in a devastating blow to Scottish workers, the French state-owned company EDF is likely to short change local firms when its main contractor awards Indonesia the manufacturing work for the NnG offshore wind farm Neart na Gaoithe.”

The order has the potential to create 1000 ‘green’ jobs - and some estimates are nearer 2000 - at least 500 in the three-year build phase and 1000 jobs in operating and maintaining the 25 year project.

“When installed the turbines will generate enough energy per year to power the whole of Edinburgh,” added Mr Brown.

“Yet this – the one major infrastructure project that is ready to build in Scotland next year – is likely to yield only a fraction of its potential jobs for Scottish manufacturing yards.

“And what will make every family really angry is that we, the British public, are all paying – soon £520 per family per year – in a special energy levy to fund the work about to be sent overseas.”

“Burntisland and Methil yards are desperate for the work. And it’s not just this project that could be lost to the UK. The UK Committee on Climate Change state that the UK might need up to 7500 offshore wind turbines by 2050 in a net-zero world.

“Unless we get the terms right, and soon, more work will be lost.”