THE Scottish Government is to introduce new measures designed to increase the number of offshore wind contracts awarded in Scotland.

Developers will have to agree on supply chain commitments when applying for offshore wind leases, under an agreement between Holyrood ministers and the Crown Estate Scotland.

Representatives from the Scottish and UK governments, trades unions and industry gathered at a summit in Edinburgh yesterday to discuss solutions to issues facing the offshore wind sector.

Ahead of the talks, trade union GMB Scotland said contracts worth billions were lost to overseas competitors last year, costing tens of thousands of Scottish jobs.

However, the agreement reached at the Scottish Offshore Wind Sector Summit yesterday was welcomed by union bosses.

Scottish secretaries of Unite and GMB, Pat Rafferty and Gary Smith respectively, said the Scottish Government must build on the latest measures to improve job retention and creation in the industry.

A joint statement read: “We welcome these long overdue measures announced today by the Scottish Government in taking a harder line with the industry – but this must be the start of change and not the end.

“The truth is it’s been a decade of failure for job creation in Scotland’s offshore wind sector.”

The union chiefs warned Scotland was some way off meeting Holyrood forecasts from 2011, which predicted the renewables industry could provide 28,000 direct jobs and 20,000 indirect jobs by 2020.

The statement continued: “We are nowhere near that and in the last few months redundancy notices have been handed out at supply chain firms like BiFab and CS Wind.

“In the same period, industry majors like SSE have been subsidised to the tune of billions of pounds of public money through the UK Government’s Contracts for Difference scheme, with no link at all to domestic job creation commitments.”

Rafferty and Smith added: “It’s a scandalous story of missed opportunities and ultimately one of industrial and political failure.”

“Without a detailed industrial plan involving the industry and a substantial programme of investment for our supply chain, our green jobs revolution will continue to be delivered in Spain, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Indonesia and China – anywhere but Scotland.”

Economy Secretary Derek Mackay said that the recent failure of the offshore energy sector to award contracts to Scottish-based firms made clear that more had to be done.

He added: “Scotland is the ideal location for offshore wind, but recent projects have not delivered the significant economic opportunities we want to see for Scottish businesses.”

Mackay said the agreement reached at the Edinburgh summit yesterday was a crucial step in boosting employment prospects for Scottish renewables sector workers.

“I will use every lever at our disposal to ensure that our renewables supply chain benefits from the expansion of offshore wind in our waters, leading to the creation and retention of Scottish jobs,” the Finance Secretary said.

“The measures agreed with Crown Estate Scotland will help to release more of those economic benefits for the Scottish economy and ensure that the Scottish-based supply chain is considered when tendering for work or making long-term conditions.”