New owners share plans for smelter with public
THE NEW owners of Lochaber’s smelter were in Fort William last week detailing their plans for the site.
Liberty House and SIMEC, both members of GFG Alliance, held a public drop-in session with MSP Kate Forbes last Friday to discuss plans for a new car parts factory at the smelter which will create 300 new jobs.
Around 50 people attended to find out what the plans will mean for the community.
The company announced a £ 330 million deal securing the smelter last year after months of uncertainty over the future of the site.
The deal, which secured 170 jobs, includes the hydro- electric station and aluminum smelter at Fort William, the neighbouring hydro-plant at Kinlochleven and more than 100,000 acres of estate land.
Over the next decade it is thought it will bring up to 2,000 direct and supply- chain jobs to the West Highlands and boost the economy by around £1 billion.
The company announced the expansion of metal manufactur- ing in Fort William saying ‘huge value is being missed out on’.
A spokesperson for the firm said it was focusing on delivering the downstream commitments, with the addition of an alloy wheel factory.
He said: ‘We will be working to keep the value on site– this fits with our wider strategy. The firm has started the planning process and the next step will be consultation with the local community.’
When asked about further developments at Kinlochleven, the spokesperson said: ‘Fort William is our focus at the moment.’ He added: ‘The feedback from the event was positive and people were pleased we have a sustainable vision for the site to ensure its long-term future.’
GFG Allience has said it has started the planning process for the car parts factory, with consultations to take place soon.
Fort William and Ardnamurchan councillor Brian Murphy, who worked at the smelter for 21 years, said the plans are ‘fantastic’. ‘It’s good to see a company come along that is committed to investing in the the place. I think doing the car parts here will be adding value in Fort William which surly has to be better,’ he said.
The company also plans to create a number of graduate posts and apprenticeships.
Mr Murphy commented: ‘There is a lot of businesses in Lochaber crying out for skilled workers.
‘We need more in the way of skills courses locally because we can’t afford to lose our best people. We have got to try and keep them in the area.’
Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said: ‘I am excited about what it means for the community in terms of jobs, homes and transport. This deal is going to unlock huge potential for the community.’