Glasgow & West Scotland

Alex Salmond accused of 'withholding' news of Doosan wind farm decision

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Media captionFrom Democracy Live: Alex Salmond is accused of withholding the news of Doosan's decision

First Minister Alex Salmond has been accused of withholding news that a major wind farm project in Scotland had been scrapped.

In December, Korean firm Doosan pulled its plans to open a research facility in Renfrew and a factory.

Labour leader Johann Lamont said the project was still being cited in budget documents at the start of this year.

Mr Salmond said it was not up to him to announce company news, adding that Doosan was planning further investment.

Finance Secretary John Swinney is to meet senior managers at Doosan Power Systems in South Korea on Friday.

The Scottish government hopes to secure investment in other renewable energy technologies from the engineering giant.

In March 2011, a few months before the Scottish election, Mr Salmond announced plans by Doosan Power Systems for its Renfrew project, which included a £170m "centre of excellence".

But, in December, the Scottish government was told by the company it was no longer pursuing the development and cited "overall economic conditions and liquidity issues in Europe".

During question time at Holyrood, Ms Lamont said the decision had not been publicised until it emerged at an industry conference in Denmark on Wednesday.

In January, during a visit to Abu Dhabi by Mr Salmond, the Scottish government said its trade and investment arm, Scottish Development International, had "helped secure major inward investment in Scotland's renewables sector from world-leading firms Mitsubishi, Gamesa and Doosan" .

The Labour leader said the project, which would have created hundreds of jobs, continued to appear in government budget documents which were debated in parliament on 25 January and 8 February.

Ms Lamont said Doosan's decision to scrap the project was "hugely significant", adding: "The first minister announced they were coming - when was he going to tell us they weren't?"

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

"A Scottish government spokesman, in the same article, denies this and is reported to have said that the Scottish government wanted the statement out earlier."

Mr Salmond said Scots Finance Secretary John Swinney had talked about the Doosan decision on a BBC Scotland programme on Sunday, adding that the firm was planning more projects in Scotland in the future.

Wind turbines

He added: "You don't make company announcements for them. If Doosan wish to make announcements to their supply chain, then they have the right to do that - that is their decision."

The first minister said that, since December, both Samsung and Gamesa had announced plans to develop and manufacture next-generation wind turbines in Scotland.

He said: "Many companies are investing in offshore wind, and many of these companies are investing in Scotland.

"One thing can be absolutely sure as that succession of announcements is made and the thousands of jobs they're going to bring to the economy - Johann Lamont won't welcome a single one of them."

A spokesman for Mr Salmond said later that the government budget document was published in September and the decision by Doosan had been in the "public domain" since February.

In a statement, Doosan said: "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."

The company said of its decision in December: "We informed the Scottish government and potential customers at the time. We were not prevented by the Scottish government from releasing the news."

Mr Trump, who is next week giving evidence to Holyrood's green energy inquiry, is objecting to a planned offshore wind farm near the site of his new £1bn luxury golf resort.

In a letter to Mr Salmond, the entrepreneur wrote: "I just heard that the Korean company Doosan has abandoned their investment in Scotland, due to deteriorating confidence in the offshore wind market.

"This is one of many, as wind power does not work.

"Once the subsidies end, wind power dies, as we have already seen all over the world. Please learn something from all of this - don't destroy your coastlines and your countryside with these monstrous turbines.

"Your economy will become a third world wasteland that global investors will avoid."

The Scottish government said Doosan themselves made clear decision in December 2011 was taken because of the "overall conditions and liquidity issues in Europe".

When Doosan announced the project in March 2011, the company said its research centre in Renfrew could employ up to 200 people.

It also said it wanted to build a manufacturing plant in Scotland, creating up to 500 direct jobs and 1,000 supply-side jobs.

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