Shipyards – Scotsman Article – 25 November 2021


I’m usually very keen to laud job creation, especially in areas are scarred by unemployment. But the welcoming of the ship breaking yard at Inverclyde drydock causes me huge concern. The fawning sycophancy of some local politicians’ beggar’s belief.

Of course, the area’s crying out for investment and work, but this is damaging to prospects for shipbuilding on the Lower Clyde. Something that offers a far more lucrative return for community and workforce.

Instead, this is akin to old colliery towns welcoming an open cast site when our pits were still open. Or as I’ve also experienced some politicians asking for a prison to be built, as a sort of job creation scheme for their locality. Both are cries of despair, any port in a storm I suppose for them.

An expert in maritime matters I know was saying, ship breaking tends to be located in developing countries, developed nations tending to prefer ship building. That’s where the skilled work is and the higher wages that follow. You’d have thought that on the Clyde with all its past history and current skill base you’d prefer the latter?

But, it’s the long term implications that most concern me. This restricts the potential expansion of the Ferguson Yard at Port Glasgow. The site had been wanted before by the entrepreneur Jim McColl when he’d first taken over the Ferguson Yard. With ships aplenty crying out to be built for Cal Mac, to provide for our beleaguered islands, you’d have thought it a “no-brainer” by whoever was now running the yard. Given it’s the Scottish Government who are operating not just the yard but the ferries, simples you’d think? But no.

Peel Ports who own the dock, also run Cammell Laird shipyard on the Mersey. A potential conflict of interest you might think. The decision to impede future shipyard expansion and instead create a ship-breaking site’s, perhaps understandable from their narrow commercial interests. A return from the site without threatening their Mersey yard.

But it’s certainly not beneficial from the perspective of Inverclyde or Scotland. Instead, this is torpedoing our shipbuilding future.