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Job-spinning wheels plant plan to roll up before council

Brian King managing director of GFG Alliance's subsidiary Liberty British Aluminium
Brian King managing director of GFG Alliance's subsidiary Liberty British Aluminium

Ambitious plans for a new alloy wheels factory in Fort William will be submitted to Highland Council on Monday.

Liberty British Aluminium – owned by GFG Alliance – held a second public event in the town yesterday where the final proposals for the new plant were on display.

The information day drop-in at the Nevis Centre updated local residents and stakeholders on the company’s final proposals before being sent to the council’s planning department.

And the steady stream of visitors throughout the afternoon and early evening showed how interest in the proposed new development is gripping the town and beyond.

The new plant would produce around two million alloy wheels for the UK market each year using aluminium from the smelter.

Planning company, JLL, has been working with Liberty on the new development, and transport consultant, Alan DeVenny, said that initially the finished wheels would be transported by road from Fort William.

“They would be mainly going to destinations in the Midlands and the north of England which would mean just an extra seven HGV movements at the new plant per day. But busy times on the A82 would be avoided.

“We did consider rail, but because they would be going to a number of destinations, we felt this was the best option.”

Craig Wallace, JLL’s planning consultant, added that the environmental impact assessment on the site had now been concluded.

“This was a big milestone for us and there will be no negative impact regarding ecology. There might be some mitigating circumstances regarding the noise level during the construction period, but the public will be advised when this is happening.

“We also want to establish community liaison structures with local people so that they can be kept informed about what’s going on at the site.”

If given the green light by planners, the alloy wheels factory is expected to employ around 400 people. The jobs would include engineering production, design, IT, finance, sales and human resources.

Additional jobs would be created through the construction period and local suppliers would also be used.

The company hopes a decision will be made by the planning committee on January 30 next year, so that, if given the green light, construction work can begin the following month. This would continue until February 2019, with the first alloy wheels being produced in the Spring of 2020.

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