GMB London calls for a halt on new offshore wind farms

In: Windfarms
GMB London has called for a halt on new offshore wind farms until a local supply chain, as is the case for nuclear, is in place. This follows criticism from GMB Scotland of foundation contracts being issued to fabrication yards outside Scotland for the Seagreen offshore wind farm.

Last week, COOEC-Fluor Heavy Industries, Co., Ltd. was named winner of a contract for the fabrication and load-out of suction caisson jackets for the
Seagreen offshore wind farm. The company is a joint venture between Fluor Corporation and Offshore Oil Engineering Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of China National Offshore Oil Corporation. The work will be completed at its Zhuhai Fabrication Yard in China’s Guangdong Province. It follows news in June that Lamprell in the UAE had secured foundation work for the project.

Warren Kenny, GMB's 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.

"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 Hinckley 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."

DF Barnes, owners of Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab), found the announcement "extremely disappointing". BiFab operations cover three yards in Arnish, Methil and Burntisland. Troubles started for the yards in 2017, with the threat of closure looming as a result of cash flow problems. This stemmed from a dispute over payments between regarding a contract for the manufacture of jacket foundations for the
Beatrice offshore wind farm.

The company received a financial package to temporarily lift the threat of administration and allow it to complete its contract for the £2.6bn offshore wind farm project. The financial support saw BiFab receive payments to alleviate immediate cash flow issues enabling the threat of administration to be lifted and ensuring the full funding of the Beatrice contract.

It was then bought by Canadian company JV Driver, through its subsidiary DF Barnes, in 2018. It was purchased as part of an agreement brokered by the Scottish government to support new opportunities at these yards for fabrication and construction in the marine, renewables and energy sector.

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