‘Total failure’ to bring energy jobs to Dundee is ‘one of Scotland’s biggest scandals’

The failure to bring decommissioning jobs to places like Dundee is “one of the biggest scandals” in Scottish politics, says a former UK energy minister.

Brian Wilson said the lack of government support for a potential £100bn industry is seeing work lost to England, which he said is better prepared for the jobs boon.

In a fringe event at the Labour conference in Dundee, the ex-MP Jim McGovern demanded the workforce is local when the jobs do land, as he criticised the V&A project for bussing in people from the rest of the country.

Mr Wilson said the “total failure” to capitalise on the decommissioning and renewables industries is “one of the biggest scandals in Scottish politics over the past decade”.

“We are in the process of seeing the decommissioning industry pass us by,” he said.

“All of that was foreseeable, all of that should have been planned for, all of it should have been exploited to the benefit of the Scottish manufacturing base.”

Speaking at the fringe event, which has hosted by Labour MSP Jenny Marra and the GMB union, Mr Wilson said the emerging industry was known about 20 years ago.

“Not only Norway and other countries have prepared for it, but the east coast of England has prepared for it far better and that is where many of these installations are going.

“They don’t have to go to the other side of the world, they just go down to Humberside.

“Why is none of that, virtually none of that, coming to Scotland?”

Decommissioning involves breaking up North Sea oil and gas installations and it has been estimated the industry could bring 5,000 jobs to Dundee alone.

Gary Smith, for GMB Scotland, said: “It is scandalous. We have got redundancies at Rosyth dockyard going on at the moment, we have got BiFab yards hanging by a thread and yet we have got all these opportunities of renewables and decommissioning passing us by.”

Mr McGovern, who was a Labour MP for Dundee West, warned against repeating the situation at the V&A where workers were mostly sourced from outside the city.

“How do we make sure if the work comes to Dundee, Dundee people get the jobs?” he added.

In its draft energy strategy published in December, the Scottish Government said the supply chain is “already capturing a large share of the value of the decommissioning contracts available”.

Paul Wheelhouse, the energy minister, has said millions of pounds has been distributed by the Scottish Government’s Decommissioning Challenge Fund to support infrastructure, adding it is a “clear signal to the market to think seriously about decommissioning and to plan and invest accordingly”.

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