Row breaks out after Doosan postpones renewables investment

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By G.A.Ponsonby
 
A row has broken out between the Scottish Government and the Labour party after Korean company Doosan decided to delay a £170 investment in Scotland’s offshore wind sector.
 
The row centres on claims by Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont that First Minister Alex Salmond had deliberately withheld news of the investment loss.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood today, Ms Lamont attacked Mr Salmond and accused him of deliberately seeking to hide the news until after May’s local elections.

Ms Lamont also suggested that the Scottish Government had tried to get the company to suppress the news.

The Scottish Labour leader said: “The First Minister announced they were coming – when was he going to tell us they weren’t?”

She added: “It has been reported that the Scottish government wanted this news suppressed until after the local council elections.”

The First Minister rejected the accusations and insisted that the Scottish Government do not make company announcements.  Mr Salmond also ridiculed claims that his Government had sought to suppress the news.
 
“You don’t make company announcements for them.” he said, and added: ” If Doosan wish to make announcements to their supply chain, then they have the right to do that – that is their decision.”.

Doosan has also refuted claims that it was asked to suppress the news.  A statement from the company said: “We informed the Scottish Government and potential customers at the time.  We were not prevented by the Scottish Government from releasing the news.”

Mr Salmond pointed out that the BBC’s very own Douglas Fraser had discussed the matter with Finance Minister John Swinney on Radio Scotland four days previously.

It has also emerged that the decision to postpone the £170 investment plans was reported in February 9th by leading industry newsletter reNews.

Newsnet Scotland spoke to magazine editor Todd Westbrook who confirmed that the story had featured prominently on the front page of February’s edition.

Doosan announced that it had decided to delay its investment in offshore wind at the end of last year, citing lack of investor confidence prompted by the European debt crisis.

A statement from Doosan: “In light of the European sovereign debt crisis, Doosan Power Systems reluctantly decided in December 2011 to postpone its plans to enter into the offshore wind market and subsequent investment in offshore assembly plants in the UK.

“The uncertain economic situation in Europe has created general liquidity issues, as well as sapped market confidence – putting a question mark over the future development of the offshore wind market.”

Doosan says that it is delaying investment in offshore wind “until economic conditions are more stable”.

It added: “The company remains committed to working in Scotland and the UK as a whole, as demonstrated by our continual investment in technology and product development as a global centre of excellence for the Doosan Group.

“We also continue to fully support the development of clean energy solutions.”