Trust ‘kept in dark’ about plans for Lochaber estate
The chairman of a West Highland trust said he was kept in the dark about a global business giant’s ambitious plans to redevelop a huge local estate.
John Hutchison of the East Lochaber and Laggan Community Trust, ELLCT, said he was disappointed not to be told about GFG Alliance’s wide-ranging proposals – announced yesterday – for 114,000 acres of land near its aluminium smelter in Fort William.
The company revealed there would be multiple projects on the estate covering renewable energy, outdoor sports, tourist facilities, forestry and new agricultural activity. There is also the potential for hundreds of new jobs.
But Mr Hutchison explained he had not heard about these plans and only found out about them through the media.
He said: “The trust has been working with GFG Alliance since they bought the aluminium smelter last year. We have also been working with Harrison Rural Consultancy which is involved with the estate and have been pressing ahead with our aim of community ownership of a significant part of it.
“I know the company has given various assurances to public bodies about community ownership, so I am disappointed to say the least.”
But Jay Hambro, chief investment officer for GFG Alliance, said: “We have not closed the door on any option. Our position hasn’t changed from the beginning.
“We are committed to working with all stakeholders, including all local communities to achieve the best and most productive use of the estate lands for the benefit of all involved.
“To that end we continue to look at all options.”
The company revealed its plans for the estate when it unveiled its new property arm, Jahama. A key division is Jahama Highland Estates and Duncan Mackison has been appointed as its chief executive officer.