Tom Keighley

Member Article

Alcan closure rocks Northumberland

Over 500 jobs have been lost, as Rio Tinto Alcan have confirmed their Northumberland plant will be closing.

The company will now shut down the Lynemouth site, following a 90 day consultation process with employee and union representatives.

Having been an integral part of the local economy since opening in 1972, the closure of the plant presents a significant blow to the area.

Jacynthe Côté, chief executive of Rio Tinto Alcan, said: “This decision follows a thorough strategic review which explored every possible option for continuing to operate the smelter and power station.

“However, it is clear the smelter is no longer a sustainable business because its energy costs are increasing significantly, due largely to emerging legislation. We are hopeful that the power station can remain in operation under new ownership.”

She went on to say that all the workers affected would be supported with local initiatives, designed to promote regional economic development.

Chris Jukes, Regional Political Officer for GMB union, said: “It’s devastating news since the company bought this site at the top end of the market, and now this strategic review is masking the fact that they paid over the odds for it.

“They will bank the land in assets, and if they sell the power station component of the site, what they will really be doing is covering the cost of making these people redundant.

“Now that the Alcan plant is gone, the only major employer left between Newcastle and Edinburgh will be the public sector, and at a time when we need more jobs in this area.”

Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central and Shadow Business Minister, said: “The closure of the plant is a terrible blow for Northumberland and my thoughts are with those who work there and their families.

“But I am also worried that at least part of the reason for this closure is the uncertainty caused by the Government’s inept and out of touch approach to manufacturing.

“The sudden imposition of carbon floors and the reduction in solar feed in tariffs are just two examples of government introducing policies in a way that makes long term planning impossible.

“For energy intensive industries like aluminium smelting this is particularly damaging, but we must now see what the Government will do to help ensure that the site can be put to a new use.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Tom Keighley .

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