Highlands & Islands

Wheels plant near Fort William could be producing in 2020

Planned alloy wheel plant Image copyright GFG Alliance
Image caption Illustrations of aluminium slabs, left, and the planned alloy wheel plant

The developers of a planned alloy car wheels factory hope the plant in Lochaber could be in production early in 2020.

GFG Alliance plans to build the factory as part of an expansion of its Lochaber Smelter near Fort William.

The wheels factory would employ 400 people and could be built to a design based on the shape of aluminium slabs, which are produced at the smelter.

A planning application for the new plant could be submitted in November.

Before the application is made to Highland Council, a local public consultation event is scheduled to be held later this month.

Image copyright GFG Alliance
Image caption An illustration showing the smelter, right, and the planned new wheels factory

A drop-in event for the public was held in Fort William last week involving about 150 people.

GFG Alliance also held a special briefing for local community council representatives.

Image copyright GFG Alliance
Image caption The new plant could be in production in early 2020

If the project secures planning permission, the plant will convert liquid aluminium from the smelter into about two million alloy wheels a year.

GFG Alliance said there are currently no large volume producers of alloy wheels in the UK, which imports millions of alloy wheels.

The group's managing director of Lochaber operations, Brian King, said: "Our ambition is for this plant to become a leader in its field, producing the most advanced products on the market and employing highly-skilled people."

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