The government stands accused of failing to protect workers as it sold off projects to EDF and other foreign firms

In the renewables sector, the Scottish government has been perfecting a form of political alchemy over the last decade. In this, Nicola Sturgeon and her ministers have succeeded in spinning mere optimism into hard political currency.

The title of its manifesto for the 2011 Holyrood election asked voters to “Re-elect a Scottish Government Working For Scotland” and claimed that developing the low-carbon economy would create “around 130,000 jobs”. At the current growth rate of real jobs in this sector, you wouldn’t bet on that figure of 130,000 being reached before that big asteroid with Earth’s name on it finds its bearings.

The fabled potential of this sector for the economy has long mesmerised the political classes. Offshore Wind Scotland’s offering to potential investors reads like a licence to print money: “With over 25% of Europe’s offshore wind resource passing over Scottish seas, it’s no wonder some of the biggest names in offshore wind are already operating here,” it trills. “If your company is interested in the UK’s multibillion-pound offshore wind and renewables opportunity, then Scotland’s enterprise agencies are able to assist.”

The 20 or so workers at the mothballed BiFab construction yards in Methil and Burntisland on the Fife coast have another perspective. The future of these yards is crucial to the wider, working-class communities that surround them. That future is now subject to the whims of the French energy giant EDF, which has a £1bn contract to supply jacket foundations, which support and anchor wind turbines to the seabed.

The Scottish government, to give it its due, bought a significant stake in BiFab to help JV Driver, its new Canadian owner, navigate its way through the treacherous currents that dictate global contracts and processes in this sector. The EDF contract could create more than 1,000 long-term, skilled and well-paid jobs. It has the potential to revive and sustain communities that still haven’t recovered from Thatcherism. These hopes now hang by slender threads thanks to a mixture of what might generously be described as economic opportunism by EDF and rank incompetence by the Scottish Government.

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