Tuesday 30th January 2018
The GFG Alliance has welcomed the decision of the Highland Council South Area Planning Committee today (30th January) to grant full planning permission for a new 400-worker alloy wheel factory next to the Liberty British Aluminium smelter at Fort William.
The consent, which comes with a number of standard conditions, clears the way for the company to begin detailed design on the landmark project to develop the UK’s only large-scale alloy wheel plant, with work hopefully beginning on site later this year.
It is intended that the new plant – part of a £120m investment by GFG at Fort William – will use aluminium from the adjacent smelter to manufacture up to two million wheels a year for the British car industry, with production beginning in early 2020. The ambitious plans for the site will make Fort William a major centre for the automotive industry, supplying at least one fifth of all the wheels required by UK vehicle manufacturers.
Speaking after today’s decision, Sanjeev Gupta, Executive Chairman of the GFG Alliance which includes Liberty British Aluminium said: “We are delighted to have reached this milestone in the development of a very exciting project and are very grateful to the Council for giving this matter their close attention over recent months. We also appreciate very much, the valuable input of the many statutory bodies, other organisations and the local community, who have worked with us on the wide range of issues associated with this development, which will add major value to the Highland economy.”
“Our plans for Fort William will not only transform the economic prospects of the area but also create the UK’s only large-scale alloy wheel plant, a major step forward in Britain’s manufacturing capabilities. We plan to invest heavily in R&D to develop a world class product, made in the Scottish Highlands. We look forward to continuing to work with these bodies to fulfil the conditions set out in the planning consent and then to move ahead quickly with the building of the plant,” he added.
In addition to the skilled employment created at the wheel factory itself, GFG envisages that there will be hundreds more jobs generated in businesses supplying the plant and in the wider Highland economy.
Through the Lochaber Delivery Group, set up by GFG and the Scottish Government, a range of local and regional bodies are working together to address the issues – including housing, infrastructure and local services – associated with an industrial development on this scale. The new plant will be one of the biggest such projects of its kind in the Highlands for decades.
Lois Brearley (iNHouse Communications)