NICOLA Sturgeon has welcomed the decision by the French energy giant EDF to buy a large offshore wind project off the coast of Scotland for more than €500 million from its Irish developer.

The project, dubbed Neart na Gaoithe, which means “strength of the wind” in Gaelic, was delayed by several years because of a legal challenge concerning its impact on seabirds, but ultimately gained approval and won a government subsidy contract.

The deal follows similar investments by EDF, which has pushed into renewables in recent years with big deals ranging from solar in Dubai to wind projects in Chile.

The project, which will cost EDF a further £1.8 billion to complete, will generate 450 megawatts of energy, which is enough to supply electricity to 375,000 homes, and help the UK meets its emissions reduction targets. Mainstream Renewable Power, the Dublin-based energy company that developed the project, called it a “vital infrastructure project for Scotland” when the deal was announced last week.

The deal arose during First Minister Questions when Sturgeon was asked for her views by Labour’s Lewis Macdonald.

She said: “We welcome the purchase of the Neart na Gaoithe project by EDF Energy Renewables.

“Let me give some context to the matter. In August 2017, the Fraser of Allander institute estimated that the project would contribute 0.6% of gross domestic product – about £827m – to the Scottish economy over its lifetime.

“The institute also predicted that the project would create thousands of jobs during the construction phase and more than 230 operations and maintenance jobs over the 25-year lifetime of the wind farm.”

She added that she had met EDF chief executive officers last week and that a further meeting was to take place with the Scottish energy minister Paul Wheelhouse to see how the Scottish supply chain will benefit.

Macdonald replied: “I share the First Minister’s welcome for the project and I look forward to hearing more from the Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy in due course. Does the First Minister also agree support for training will be vital if workers such as those in BiFab are to take full advantage of such opportunities?

“If so, what training support will her government’s agencies provide to ensure a future for the yards in Methil and Stornoway as well as the yard in Burntisland?”

The First Minister said she hoped BifFab would win contracts from Neart na Gaoithe. She said: “When the acquisition by DF Barnes was announced, it was made very clear that it was not a magic solution and that hard times still lay ahead. The yard has to win contracts.

“However, the acquisition means BiFab has not closed, and we now need to support it to win contracts from projects such as Neart na Gaoithe to ensure that it has the bright future that all of us want to see.”