NEW rules to crackdown on cut-price competition from overseas must be brought in to stop Scottish yards losing offshore wind work, the owner of BiFab told MSPs.

DF Barnes, a subsidiary of Canadian Firm JV Driver, acquired BiFab's three yards – at Arnish on Lewis and Burntisland and Methil in Fife – last year in a Scottish Government-backed rescue package.

The total workforce of 1400 now stands at just 115.

Its director Bill Elkington called on ministers to address the "travesty" that sees domestic yards lose engineering contracts for offshore wind farms in Scotland to cheaper operators from overseas – despite commitments to support jobs here.

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Appearing before Holyrood's Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee, Elkington raised concerns about "competing against businesses that lose money".

That comment comes after key work on the Kincardine floating offshore wind development was won by Navantia, which is owned by the Spanish government and runs at a 35% revenue loss.

Questioning how this conforms to state aid rules, he said Scottish taxpayers subsidise the UK Government's Contract for Difference for offshore wind, which he said includes commitments to a proportion of work being carried out in Scotland – but there's "nothing to hold [developers] to that".

Elkington said elsewhere companies are punished for breaching that type of commitment, with one developer in Canada fined the equivalent of £86.3 million.

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Calling for "either regulation or government intervention" to address the "travesty", he added: "I'd recommend controlling who is bidding and if they are not living up to the requirements of state aid they should be excluded from it, and then we would have a bunch of people back to work."

Unite's Pat Rafferty said Scotland had been touted as "the new Saudi Arabia for renewables", adding: "If we continue in the way that we are in terms of how these contracts are getting awarded, then we certainly are not going to be the Saudia Arabia of renewables.

"They will be getting built in Saudi Arabia and shipped across here."

Andy McDonald from Scottish Enterprise said the organisation cannot breach state aid rules.

Nick Sharpe, of industry body Scottish Renewables, said historic under-investment in UK yards had enabled European rivals to provide round-the-clock fabricated steel manufacturing to a quality and cost that Scotland is currently "just not capable of, by and large". He added: "The issues are fixable."