A trade union has called for a halt to new offshore wind farms until a local supply chain is established.
GMB London echoed the growing anger from GMB Scotland after it was announced last week that contracts to supply turbine jackets for SSE’s offshore wind farm, Seagreen, in Angus, were awarded to firms in China and UAE.
The decision meant Scottish firm Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab) was left overlooked in favour of companies based thousands of miles away, even though it has engineering sites in the country, in Fife and Stornoway.
Despite BiFab securing backing from the Scottish Government to win the work, SSE Renewables claimed the gap between the submissions of foreign firms and BiFab was “too significant to close”.
Back in 2010, a Scottish Government report suggested the offshore wind sector alone could offer the potential for 28,000 direct jobs, in addition to a further 20,000 positions in related industries and a £7.1 billion investment in Scotland by this year.
But just last year, BiFab again found itself priced out for local work by global competitors after EDF granted the vast majority of the supply chain for its wind farm, about 10 miles off the coast of Fife, to Indonesia.
Now, the GMB London union is arguing that supply chain set-ups undertaken in the nuclear industry should be the go-to for renewable energy, with “tens of thousands of jobs in developing nuclear zero-carbon emissions reliable electricity” in the UK.
It says wind farms continuing to use the current supply chain will lead to higher bills for UK households, in addition to an overall lack of jobs – which it says are both against the “direct economic interest” of its members and their families.
Warren Kenny, GMB regional secretary, said: “Politicians of all stripes, who bought into the hype that renewable energy would give rise to green jobs in the UK in return for the higher electricity prices and subsidies required to bring it on stream, are taking union members for fools at the breath-taking absurdity of the supply chain and carbon emissions reality.
“The steel for the turbines and jackets is being made from high emissions coal and the ships that transport them many thousands of miles will be powered by high emissions oil.
“It is householders in the UK that are required to pay a surcharge of £10 per week on household energy bills, regardless of income, to fund the subsidies required by renewables energy suppliers to make their projects viable while creating jobs in the Far East. Without the subsidies the wind farms would not exist.”
He went on: “Offshore wind farms and the current supply chain which lead to higher bills and no jobs are against the direct economic interest of union members and families.
“The contrast with Hinkley Point and Sizewell new nuclear power supply chain could not be more stark.
“There is a verifiable UK supply chain and tens of thousands of jobs in developing nuclear zero carbon emissions reliable electricity. GMB London calls for the Government to halt awarding any further offshore wind farm electricity supply contracts until the power companies have put in place a comparable UK-based supply chain.”
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