Concerns over Arnish Point yard as BiFab faces administration

BiFab has a yard in Arnish Point and also two in Fife.
BiFab has a yard in Arnish Point and also two in Fife.

Fears are growing for the future of BiFab, the company which operates the yard at Arnish Point on the Isle of Lewis

It is widely reported to be heading into administration, sparking deep concerns among politicians and trades unionists.

BiFab is s one of the largest fabricators for the energy industry in Scotland.

It employs over 600 people at three yards – one on Lewis, and two in Fife, where the majority of workers are based.

Fears over BiFab’s future has alarmed union leaders and politicians.

GMB, one of two unions which represents the yards’ workforce, said any closure would be a hammer blow.

It later tweeted: ‘‘Letting these workers and their communities go under is not an option.’’

The company has yet to make any comment since reports broke of its troubles.

But there have been cross-party calls for interventions from the Scottish Government and the local authorities where the yards are based.

Anas Sarwar MSP, who is bidding to be the next Scottish Labour leader, tweeted: ‘‘Very concerning reports about BiFab. It’s a major employer in Fife and the Western Isles. All parties should work together to prevent closure.’’

Claire Baker, a Fife-based MSP, whose wards includes two BiFab yards, said it was ‘‘vital’’ the Scottish Government stepped in amid fears any slide into administration would also impact badly on a number of suppliers.

And Councillor Ken Caldwell, who chairs Levenmouth’s local area committee, has written to the Scottish Government urging it to step in.

He said: ‘‘The loss of Bifab would be a huge blow to the local economy, not just financially, but it would hurt the moral of the community.’’

He described the local yard as ‘‘the cornerstone of the hopes for a better future for the area.’’

Paul Wheelhouse, Scottish Government Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, said he would be holding urgent meetings in a bid to find a solution.

There have been job losses previously at Arnish as the yard has battled for new work, but in 2016 it scored a big win with a contract to supply the bases for offshore wind turbines.

The £100m deal to supply 26 wind turbine foundations for the SSE-led 588MW Beatrice offshore wind farm. was warmly welcomed at the time by Alasdair Allan, Western Isles MP.

He said at the time: “This is a testimony to the skill and dedication of the workforce at Arnish. As Scotland builds up its capacity in renewable sources of energy. there will be a need for more work of this kind.’’