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Views sought on wheel plant for Lochaber

Artist impression showing the planned wheels factory in Fort William
Artist impression showing the planned wheels factory in Fort William

Plans to prepare the Lochaber smelter site ahead of the construction of the proposed new alloy wheels factory have stepped up a gear.

Liberty British Aluminium – owned by GFG Alliance – want to build temporary offices in an area of the huge site outside Fort William.

And these would be in place until the new factory, which is expected to employ around 400 people, is built.

The proposals, which have been submitted to Highland Council, would see an existing building demolished before the work goes ahead.

The plans state that the temporary premises would be used only during the construction phase of the factory which is expected to last around three years.

The company will also update local residents and stakeholders on their plans for the alloy wheels factory at an information day in the Nevis Centre, Fort William, next week.

Expert studies on the proposals are currently being finalised and the company wants locals to see them before submitting a formal application to build the factory to Highland Council in November.

Around 200 people came along to the first community consultation event held by the company in the Ben Nevis Hotel in September. There, the first details about the factory were outlined and it was explained that liquid aluminium from the smelter would be used to make around two million alloy wheels every year for the UK car industry.

Brian King, managing director of Lochaber Operations for the GFG Alliance said: “We were very pleased by the size of the turnout for the first community consultation and very encouraged by the amount of local support there was for this proposal.

“We also had a valuable opportunity to listen to people’s comments on how we should take the plan forward and we’ve fed these to the team preparing the application for us,” he added.

Those who come along to next week’s event will be given more details on what the new plant will look like along with findings from the required environmental impact assessment .

These will include the potential impact on transport, landscape, noise levels, air quality, ecology and cultural heritage and any mitigation measures where necessary.

Members of the public can also submit representations on the proposed development to the council once the planning application has been submitted.

The company hopes a decision on the application can be made next Spring and, if it gets the green light, that production could start in Spring 2020.

The information day at the Nevis Centre will be held on Thursday, November 2, from 2.30-7.30pm.

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