THE SOUTH Korean-owned company running Britain’s only UK facility for manufacturing onshore and offshore wind towers based in Scotland has gone into administration.
CS Wind (UK) had been seen as a key part of the green jobs revolution in Scotland.
But its factory in Machrihanish, Argyllshire was down to just one full-time member of staff for nearly a year after a slump in orders.
The announcement was met with anger from Unite Scotland who slammed the green jobs “myth”.
Michelle Elliot and Tom MacLennan, partners with FRP Advisory, who have been appointed joint administrators said the company – seen as a key part of the so-called green jobs revolution in Scotland – had been suffering as “market conditions deteriorated resulting in a decline in contracts and revenue”. As a result, CS Wind began a managed wind down during 2020 and was effectively mothballed in the Spring of 2020. The company was unable to secure new contracts and all staff have now either left or been made redundant by the company.
They said that “with no prospects of any recovery in the market the company’s directors decided to place the business into administration”.
The joint administrators will now market the assets for sale, including various plant and machinery and a residential property in the heart of Campbeltown that had been used by management for accommodation.
Pat Rafferty, Unite Scottish Secretary, said: “Unite has repeatedly warned of the disgraceful situation developing at the hands of the South Korean owners who have a track record for taking millions in public funds only to run a factory into the ground.
“The Scottish Government has sat back and watched from the sideline offering absolutely nothing. It’s high time they accept that on their watch, for over a decade now, there has been minimal green and low-carbon manufacturing jobs directly created in Scotland.
“There is no jobs revolution – it’s a myth. The Scottish Government’s projection of nearly 50,000 jobs by 2020 comes crashing against the stark reality that for both the onshore and offshore wind sectors only 3,300 jobs were estimated to have been created by 2019. It’s a pathetic return on the billions of pounds being poured into and around Scotland’s shores. It’s a national scandal.”
Commenting, joint administrator Michelle Elliot said: “CS Wind (UK) and its predecessor businesses have a long tradition of designing, manufacturing and supplying high quality wind tower solutions to clients across the UK and Europe. The wind tower industry has hence had a significant presence in Argyll for many years, but market conditions have unfortunately resulted in the business being unsustainable and with no immediate prospect of recovery.
“We will now move to market the assets of the business for sale.”
CS Wind took over operations in April, 2016, after the Scottish Government development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise offloaded a 19% stake in Argyll-based firm Wind Towers (Scotland) that once owned the factory.
HIE and Scottish energy firm SSE, which sold its entire 81% stake in WTS said at the time that CS Wind planned to invest up to £14m in Scotland which would safeguard 130 skilled jobs and create up to 70 new jobs in rural Argyll.
Minutes of an HIE board meeting from February, 2017 reveal that just ten months after the CS Wind takeover they were told that 63 jobs were at risk.
In 2018, HIE said a £2.8m extension and alteration of the factory leased to CS Wind “will increase the company’s competitiveness when bidding for offshore wind contracts”.
CS Wind was expected to hire around 400 people when it first opened.
As of 2015, it employed 482 people and as of 2019 there was no activity on site.
It started winding down production six years after promising jobs and economic investment.
CS Wind used to have 134 staff at its Scottish base but quietly scores lost their jobs, while the company recorded pre-tax profits of £7.1 million in 2018.
In the summer of last year elected representatives of the Kintyre area, including four councillors, the MP and the MSP, joined forces with the union Unite Scotland to issue an open letter to CS Wind urging them to seek orders for the plant or let others take over the facility.
The executive director CS Wind Yun-Cheol Kim then called for talks with Scottish ministers.
He told the Herald in August that despite indications to the contrary it intended to remain.
“I understand the situation of the local workforce,” he said. “So the local community may hope CS Wind vacates and some other manufacturer comes in.
“But CS Wind doesn’t have any intention to move out now. If the local community, government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise hopes that CS Wind moves out, we need to discuss all together.
“CS Wind hopes to keep business in Scotland, unfortunately we didn’t get the projects yet.
“CS Wind is working on getting projects actively. The periods of expected production for many of the projects are not now, but our sales department is communicating with potential customers continuously.
“Many projects are not starting the bidding stage yet. Short-term operations, starting and stopping repeatedly is not good for the company or employee. So we are strongly looking for a long-term pipeline.
“If Scottish Government & HIE [find it] difficult to support CS Wind stronger and they hope that CS Wind moves out, I think that HIE may be able to ask us for it. We have to make a clear agreement to reach a final conclusion from my perspective.”