Grant asks Cabinet Secretary: When will the Lochaber community get its promised slice of smelter site?

Today in Parliament, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism, was asked to reassure Parliament about the smelter owner’s operations in Scotland, particularly in Lochaber, following the collapse of the Greensill Capital UK finance firm.

Mr Ewing told the chamber jobs at the smelter were secure and the order book was healthy.

Highlands & Islands MSP Rhoda Grant raised follow-up questions around community land ownership.

She said: “I am pleased to receive the reassurance with regard to GFG Alliance’s operations in Scotland and especially in Lochaber.

“When it purchased the Alcan Estate and Smelter in Lochaber a commitment was made to the Scottish Government and the community that they would transfer some of the vast estate to community ownership, this would have created more jobs and boosted the local economy.

“I understand from East Lochaber and Laggan Community Trust that this has not happened. 

“I wrote to the Cabinet Secretary about this, and in his response, he appeared to wash his hands off this matter. 

“Therefore, can I prevail push upon him to ensure that GFG Alliance make good this commitment?”

The Cabinet Secretary accepted there was work to do in this area, saying community involvement was something he would very much like to see taken forward. He said he has had discussions with the owner, Sanjeev Gupta, and that they had spoken to Community Councils and had been looking at one project in particular – to which there was no further mention.

Speaking afterwards, Mrs Grant said: “I was pleased to hear some work is being done on this but we definitely need to keep the pressure up on them to get things moving. If anything is coming down the line, it’s a long time coming.”