CONSTRUCTION work is under way on a new £2 billion offshore wind farm that could power 375,000 homes after financial agreements were concluded.

Energy firm EDF Renewables’ Neart na Gaoithe (NnG) development will benefit Scottish companies with Forth Ports in Dundee assembling the 54 turbines and the Methil yard of engineering company Bifab in line to build eight of the foundation jackets which will anchor the turbines on to the seabed, 10 miles off the Fife coast.

Project servicing and maintenance will be carried out at the Scottish NnG Operations and Maintenance base where there will be 50 permanent jobs over the 25-year lifetime of the wind farm. The preferred supplier is Eyemouth Harbour, Berwickshire.

However, two leading trade unions said that while Scotland’s share of the project was welcome, more needed to be done.

A total of 25 financial institutions are involved in lending money for Neart na Gaoithe – which translates as “strength of the wind” – while EDF also announced Irish power company ESB is taking a 50% stake.

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EDF Renewables UK CEO, Matthieu Hue, said the development had now passed a number of “hugely important milestones”.

He said: “We are excited to get work under way with our new equity partner ESB, our contractors and all Scottish companies and stakeholders participating in the project.

“The 450 megawatt NnG project will play an important role in de-carbonising the UK electricity system and is a further example of EDF Renewables continuous investment and growth in Scotland.”

Matthias Haag, NnG’s project director, hailed it a great day for what would be “a fantastic project for Scotland and for EDF Renewables”.

Finance Secretary, Derek Mackay, added: “This is positive news for the Port of Dundee, Eyemouth Harbour and BiFab in Fife, which are set to benefit from the associated jobs and investment in the local community, demonstrating the strengths and potential of our indigenous supply chain.

“While we believe that much more is possible from across the whole sector, today’s announcement is another welcome step in the right direction.”

However, Gary Smith, secretary of GMB Scotland, said the union was disappointed that most of the work would be carried out 7000 miles from Scotland after the Fife yards had lain empty for 18 months: “The overwhelming majority of a contract based just 10 miles from the Fife coast will be delivered over 7000 miles away in Indonesia.

“If our politicians can’t see the problem in that then we’ve got no chance of building a meaningful renewables manufacturing sector.”

Unite Scottish Secretary, Pat Rafferty, added: “As we have been warning for months now, the fact that the vast majority of the jackets are to be built in Indonesia and then transported back to Dundee and Fife must be a source of national embarrassment for the Scottish and UK governments.”