Comhairle backs Action for Arnish campaign

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Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is backing the Action for Arnish campaign and was due to meet with Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse this week to highlight concerns and seek a more sustainable future for the Arnish yard on Lewis.

The campaign has been launched by former workers at the yard, trade unions and community leaders.

Speaking this week, Councillor Donald Crichton, chairman of the local authority’s Sustainable Development Committee, said it was disappointing to hear BiFab had been unsuccessful in bidding for the SSE renewables contract off the east coast, describing it as further blow to the island’s economy.

‘This, of course, has implications for the Arnish fabrication yard and leaves our skilled local workforce without any prospect of future work,’ he added.

‘ It further highlights the lack of a national strategy or framework that would put in place incentives to ensure renewable energy developers use local markets to construct their projects.

‘Along with the Council Leader, I am a signatory to the statement by the Arnish Campaign Group and fully share the frustration at the lack of progress in securing contracts for the yard.’

The Comhairle was due to meet Mr Wheelhouse yesterday (Wednesday) when it intended highlighting concerns and seeking that he open up a new dialogue with the Arnish Campaign Group to address the issues raised and seek a more sustainable future for the yard.

The campaign has the backing of other councillors, ex-Arnish workers, trade unions and local business leaders.

The Western Isles Labour Party has also given its backing to the Action for Arnish campaign.

In a statement, the constituency party said:  ‘We warmly commend the former Arnish workers who have taken the lead in trying to focus attention on the disgraceful treatment of the yard over recent years.

‘The demand for the Arnish yard to be available to any user which can bring work to it is particularly important. The dependence on BiFab, which was created by the Scottish Government as a side-deal to the Fife yards, has been a disaster for Arnish.

‘Without a sustained campaign to market Arnish and make the necessary investment, we will continue to see opportunities pass the yard by without anyone being held responsible for this failure.

‘The Western Isles Labour Party urges every islander, regardless of politics, to add their names to the Declaration for Arnish and to give full support to an ongoing campaign for the yard.’

 

The yard at Arnish. NO F38 BiFab 01