More than 120 workers at Highland wind turbine factory Skykon have been sent home after the facility fell into the hands of administrators.
The uncertain future of the Campbeltown factory – the only major turbine maker north of the Border – is a blow for Scotland’s aspirations to lead the way in renewable energy generation.
Insolvency specialists from Ernst & Young held a meeting with staff at the manufacturing base in Machrihanish yesterday morning, when workers were told that just six of the 130-strong workforce would be kept on to assist administrators.
The remainder have been asked to take unpaid leave while a buyer is sought.
In October, the factory’s Danish parent company admitted it had filed for a “suspension of payment” in the Danish courts, saying it was in a “very cash-strapped situation”.
Administrator Andrew Davison of Ernst & Young said: “We are currently reviewing the facility’s financial position and order book with a view to assessing its immediate trading prospects.
“Some initial expressions of interest have been made and all options will be explored to find a future for the site.”
It is thought that staff will be asked to return to the factory next week, when Ernst & Young will issue a further update.
The Scottish Government ploughed millions of pounds of grant funding into the factory less than two years ago in a bid to rescue the facility, previously owned by Vestas.
Skykon acquired the eight-year-old wind tower manufacturing plant through a new company called Welcon Towers in March 2009 after winning a pledge of £9.2 million of funding from the Scottish Government and Scottish Development International, through a Regional Selective Assistance grant. It said in October that just £2.4m of the grant money had been paid out – and payments would be suspended until Skykon’s financial problems had been clarified.
Business groups vowed to work to try to save the factory, a major employer in the area.
Douglas Cowan, area manager for Argyll and the Islands at Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), said: “HIE and our partners have been working hard to avoid this outcome for Campbeltown. We will now do all we can to assist the administrator to identify and negotiate with a new operator.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Government added: “Scottish Development International and HIE are working with the administrators and their various stakeholders to achieve a positive outcome and every effort is being made to secure the viability of the asset and long-term, low-carbon jobs for the area.”