The fortunes of Fort William are on the up thanks to a £120million investment from Liberty British Aluminium (LBA). LBA owners Gupta Family Group (GFG) Alliance bought the aluminium smelter in Fort William in 2016, securing 170 jobs. They also plan to manufacture alloy wheels from the site, providing transformational change for Lochaber.
Instead of just making aluminium and shipping it elsewhere, the company intends to build a factory to produce alloy wheels and other components to supply the UK automotive industry. Initial intentions are to deliver around two million wheels every year which is around a quarter of the wheels required for the UK motor sector. Full planning permission for the factory (which would employ up to 400 people) was granted in January 2018.
An investment of this scale doesn't come without its challenges with political leadership necessary. The Scottish Government has been involved from the outset with Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, chairing the Lochaber Delivery Group. This group co-ordinates efforts across public sector partners to ensure Fort William has the infrastructure and services needed to make the investment a success, and maximise the benefits it will bring to the wider community.
Representatives from the Scottish Government, HIE, Highland Council and Liberty meet quarterly along with other key stakeholders to discuss progress with regard to the factory project and also to advance the associated infrastructure required to accommodate a project of this scale within Fort William. Those wider developments will transform the town as a place to live, work, study and invest. The action notes from the Lochaber Delivery Group meetings are available to download using tehlinks on the left. For further information please contact the Scottish Government at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0131 244 4386.