Tuesday 26th September 2017
Two political rivals at Westminster teamed up this week for a fact-finding visit in the Highlands to hear the latest on ambitious plans to bring many hundreds of industrial jobs to this part of Scotland.
Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell MP, and SNP leader in the House of Commons, Ian Blackford MP, dropped in on the GFG Alliance aluminium smelter and hydro power facilities at Fort William on Tuesday and spoke to senior directors about their aim to invest hundreds of millions of pounds in the region.
Having acquired the assets in December 2016, GFG has since brought forward plans to build a 400-job alloy wheels factory next door, powered by renewable energy.
The smelter is already powered by hydro and bio-liquid generated electricity – making it one of the greenest industrial installations in Britain – and GFG has plans to add wind power to the energy mix to support its expansion and job creation programme both at Lochaber and at its steelmaking facilities in Lanarkshire.
It has further plans to create new economic and recreational activity across its 114,000 Highland estates and is discussing these with local communities and other stakeholders at present.
Jay Hambro chief investment officer for the GFG Alliance said: “It is a pleasure to host both the Secretary of State and the SNP leader in the Commons and we are very encouraged by the level of interest they have shown in our GREENALUMINIUM plans which we believe will make a major positive contribution to the life and economy of the Highlands over the coming years.”
Mr Mundell commented: “The Highlands region needs skilled and sustainable jobs in order to support its communities and economy. That is what the GFG Alliance is delivering, and at the same time providing a boost to the wider Scottish economy. The UK Government, working with the Scottish Government, is determined to support Scottish industry and iconic establishments like the British Liberty Aluminium Lochaber Smelter.”
Ian Blackford whose constituency of Ross Skye and Lochaber includes the GFG plants said: “Local people in the area are watching with interest and excitement what is unfolding here. These plans not only consolidate the future of the smelter but will maximise the value of this long-established facility by creating spin-off manufacturing to provide jobs and careers for residents of the area, particularly our young people.”
Lois Brearley (iNHouse Communications)