Trust ‘kept in dark’ about plans for Lochaber es­tate

The Press and Journal (Inverness) - - NEWS - BY ANN MACK

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.

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