Alex Salmond highlighted investment by a major industrial firm as evidence the independence referendum is not damaging the economy without revealing it had shelved a £170 million project, the Daily Telegraph can reveal.
Doosan Power Systems informed the Scottish Executive last December it was postponing a major scheme to build an offshore wind research centre in Glasgow, with a turbine factory to follow.
But the following month the First Minister’s official spokesman issued a statement rejecting claims the referendum is causing uncertainty by citing a list of companies who are “making huge investments” in Scotland.
“In recent months, Avaloq, Dell, Gamesa, Amazon, Doosan Power Systems and Michelin, to name just a few, have invested in Scotland – and, with the full financial and economic powers of independence, we can achieve even more,” he said.
The company was most recently lauded in an Executive press release last week announcing a visit by John Swinney, the SNP Finance Minister, to Japan and South Korea.
Opposition parties last night accused the SNP of misleading MSPs after it was finally made public that Doosan had decided to postpone the scheme because of the European sovereign debt crisis.
Willie Rennie, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, said: “In their desperation to prove that Scotland isn’t suffering from the uncertainty of the delayed independence referendum the SNP have misrepresented Doosan.
“Doosan deserve an immediate apology. People will also be much more sceptical of the First Minister’s bold claims in future.”
Tom Greatrex, Labour’s Shadow Energy Minister, said: “The loss of this investment to Scotland is a big blow, but if the Scottish government have been systematically misleading people about Doosan, that is a very serious matter.
“Ministers have an obligation to be truthful and upfront about these things, and holding out false hope for investment – when the company has put it on hold – is deeply troubling.”
Doosan last night confirmed it decided last December to postpone the construction of the Scottish turbine assembly plant and research centre “until economic conditions are more stable.”
“However, the company remains committed to working in Scotland and the UK as a whole. We informed the Scottish government and potential customers at the time,” a spokesman said.
Among the press statements issued this year highlighting Doosan’s investment in Scotland was one in January announcing a visit by the First Minister to Abu Dhabi.
This praised Scottish Development International, a quango, for securing “major inward investment” in the renewables sector from “world-leading firms Mitsubishi, Gamesa and Doosan”.
Last week’s release on behalf of Mr Swinney praised Scotland’s “successful commercial relationship” with the company.
The Scottish Executive last night said the releases referred only to Doosan’s existing investments in Scotland and not the £170 million project the company has shelved.
The firm opened a research and development centre five years ago in Renfrew that is focusing on carbon capture technology.
However, opposition parties said this did not explain the First Minister’s spokesman applauding recent investment by the company in January this year.
An Executive spokesman said there was no attempt to suppress the bad news, adding that ministers “will be delighted to continue working with this prestigious company on any such opportunities that may arise in Scotland.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding