Nearly 300 jobs to be created at BiFab yard for wind turbine foundation works

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Nearly 300 jobs are to be created at a bought-out yard in Fife for the manufacture of wind turbine foundations.

Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab), which has yards in Burntisland and Methil in Fife and one on the Isle of Lewis, went into administration at the end of last year after Scottish Government ministers ruled out nationalising the company.

Harland and Wolff (Methil) Limited, a subsidiary of InfraStrata, took over the Methil and Lewis sites in February following an £850,000 deal.

The new owner has now been awarded a contract by Saipem Limited for the fabrication, consolidation and load-out of the foundations to be conducted at the Methil plant.

The contract schedule is due to begin on July 1 and it is anticipated it will create around 290 direct and indirect jobs.

John Wood, InfraStrata chief executive, said: “We are delighted to have entered into this contract with Saipem and I believe that this contract paves the way for the execution and delivery of future fabrication contracts, a significant number of which are currently in advanced negotiations.

“The geographical proximity of our Methil facility to the North Sea makes it an ideal site for fabrication and load-out to wind farm projects such as this.

“More importantly, it validates our strategic vision of expanding the group’s fabrication footprint into regions that are strategically located within proximity to major wind farm projects.

BiFab workers
The work will be carried out at the Methil yard in Fife (PA)

“I am confident that this is only the beginning of a stream of projects in our pipeline that we expect to come to fruition.

“We are hugely excited about the massive potential that this first contract has unlocked, and we look forward to working with Saipem to successfully deliver under it.”

The jacket foundations will service the Neart na Gaoithe Offshore Wind Farm project, owned by EDF Renewables and ESB, located in the outer Firth of Forth.

If there is a need for work to become more cost effective, Harland and Wolff says it will be spread to its sites in Belfast, Arnish and Appledore.

The contract has also been welcomed by staff unions.

STUC general secretary Rozanne Foyer said: “This is a vindication of the relentless campaigning of workers in Fife and the Western Isles and the tenacity of the unions, GMB and Unite, who represent them.

“They refused to give up as, time after time, hurdles were thrown in their path. It is good news for workers in Fife and, we hope, at Arnish too.

“We have always said that there can and must be a future for the construction part of the renewables supply chain in Scotland. This provides some hope.

“It is of course one small part of what must develop into an industrial strategy for Scotland that ends the off-shoring of supply chain work and creates a plan for jobs.

“We expect the unions to examine the detail of the contract, enter talks with the employer, and to respond in due course.”

Unite regional secretary for Scotland, Pat Rafferty, and his GMB union counterpart, Gary Smith, said in a joint statement: “This is a welcome development – a working yard is better than an empty yard – but it has to be the first steps in a long journey of investment and contracts for our offshore wind supply chain.

“We need to take the opportunity now to work together and set out an industrial plan for Scotland’s future. It’s the vital ingredient that has been missing since devolution and we can’t succeed without it.”

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