Offshore windfarm Boris Johnson visited a ‘political failure’, union claims

The Prime Minister said the bridge of the Moray East facility looked ‘like the Enterprise’

Boris Johnson visit to Scotland
Boris Johnson visit to Scotland

Boris Johnson faced criticism from opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer and a union boss as he visited an offshore wind farm on the final day of his Scotland trip.

The Prime Minister and business minister Kwasi Kwarteng boarded the Esvagt Alba in Fraserburgh Harbour, Aberdeenshire, on Thursday morning before heading several miles out into the Moray Firth to the Moray East Offshore Wind Farm.

As the Esvagt Alba travelled towards the windfarm, the Prime Minister was given a tour by operations manager Gary McGougan and spoke to technicians on board.

As he visited the bridge, which he said was “like the Enterprise”, captain John Christiansen showed him the controls of the ship.

The 100-turbine development is under construction but began exporting its first power to the National Grid in June.

Boris Johnson visit to Scotland
Prime Minister Boris Johnson waves as he boards the vessel (Jane Barlow/PA)

The development sparked controversy when BiFab fabrication yards in Scotland were overlooked for manufacturing contracts, with jobs going overseas.

GMB General Secretary Gary Smith said: “Boris Johnson will see first-hand what political failure looks like – a massive offshore wind farm worth billions, subsidised by the bill payer, but manufactured and delivered almost exclusively in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

“Moray East is a monument to the broken promises of the political leaders who promised us a ‘Saudi Arabia of renewables’ and it should serve as an important lesson to this Prime Minister.

“If he wants a genuine green jobs revolution across the nations and regions of the UK, then he must stop the mass export of the jobs we need to deliver it.

“Let’s build the future here instead.”

Sir Keir, also on the second day of a two-day visit to Scotland, called for action not “soundbites” from the Prime Minister on climate change.

He said: “We’ve got a UK Prime Minister who bundles around with a cabaret of soundbites, with targets about climate change but doesn’t put in place the action.

“We all know that hydrogen and wind are part of the future, we haven’t got an industrial strategy, we haven’t got a hydrogen strategy.

“Get your head out of the sand, stop the soundbites, let’s have some action.”

Speaking on a visit to the UK’s largest on-shore windfarm, Whitelee just outside of Glasgow, Sir Keir also criticised the Scottish Government claiming it had delivered just one in 20 of the jobs expected from offshore renewables.

Keir Starmer visit to Scotland
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer at Whitelee windfarm, Eaglesham (Andrew Milligan/PA)

He urged both governments “to take their heads of out the sand and make the necessary investment and commitment in next generation energy”.

His comments come as preparations continue for the UK hosting the international climate change summit Cop26 which is being held in Glasgow in autumn.

Earlier, Mr Johnson met with fishing industry leaders in Fraserburgh where he was urged to “stem the haemorrhage” of foreign workers in the fishing industry following Brexit.

He was also told the Brexit deal for the industry “had fallen far short of expectations”.

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister visited Police Scotland’s training college at Tulliallan, Fife, and promised “all the money that is needed” will be given to fund the thousands of officers required to police Cop26.

He declined an invitation to meet Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during his trip to discuss coronavirus recovery, which she said was a “missed opportunity”.

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