Ambitious plans for Fort William wheel facility

Posted on 17 Oct 2017 and read 279 times
Ambitious plans for Fort William wheel facilityConstruction of a new factory that will create up to 400 jobs and give the economy of Fort William a massive boost could get under way next year.

The GFG Alliance (www.gfgalliance.com) bought the town’s historic aluminium smelter — previously owned by Rio Tinto — in a £330 million deal at the end of last year, securing 170 jobs. It now plans to build the UK’s largest manufacturing facility for aluminium wheels at the site.

At a consultation event held at the end of September, outline details of the plans were revealed. Brian King, director of operations for GFG Alliance, said: “We want to get the planning application in by the end of October.

“It is ambitious, but we are hoping to have approval by the end of March next year and begin construction as soon as possible after that.”

If all goes according to plan, it is hoped that the factory could start producing wheels at the beginning of 2020.

Mr King added: “Initially, it was thought that 320 jobs would be created, but as we have got more into the detail, it is closer to 400. That is just direct jobs; if you take the knock-on effect into account, you could probably double that.”

The new factory will be built on the site of a historic battlefield, but it is not envisaged that this will hold up the development.

Mr King said: “As part of the environmental impact assessment, we will look into it, but nothing we have discovered so far gives us cause for concern or is going to delay what we are doing.

"The new factory, in the shadow of Ben Nevis, is being designed to look unobtrusive from above and to blend in with the landscape as much as possible.”

GFG Alliance owns the 120,000-acre Highland Estate where the aluminium smelter is located. It has plans for a research and development centre, housing for employees, tourist and leisure facilities, and a helipad for businesses and the emergency services to use.

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