Rio Tinto’s 4,500-acre Northumberland agricultural land portfolio at Lynemouth has been sold to The Crown Estate.
The Alcan farms portfolio, which includes agricultural land, farm buildings, 19 homes, and an operational 13 turbine wind farm leased to Scottish Power Renewables, has been managed by Alcan Farms Ltd since 1972 after the land was acquired by Rio Tinto as part of the development of the former Lynemouth aluminium smelter.
The portfolio was put up for sale following the closure of the smelter in March 2012.
The eight Rio Tinto employees that work on the farm have been informed they will receive a package of outplacement support before and after their redundancy takes effect in June 2014.
The Alcan Farms Portfolio will now become known as the Ellington Estate, which will form part of The Crown Estate’s 360,000-acre rural portfolio – one of the largest in the UK.
The new owners said the investment in the Ellington Estate reflects its approach to managing its rural holdings across the UK which includes exploring opportunities to enhance its portfolio when high quality rural land becomes available.
With the purchase agreed, The Crown Estate said it will now be working to develop a management strategy for the estate.
Jon Storr, director of Alcan Farms Limited, said: “The sale to The Crown Estate ensures the land will continue to be managed and farmed to the highest standards into the future.
“Just as we did with the former smelter employees, we will provide the farm workforce with extensive practical support to help them take the next steps in their careers.”
Ken Jones, director of The Crown Estate’s rural and coastal portfolio, said: “This estate is a fantastic addition to our existing portfolio.
“Our next step will be to utilise our experience as a rural land manager to develop a strategy that ensures the estate continues to perform well over the long term.”
In addition to the land sale, Rio Tinto has donated parcels of land to community groups including Ellington Juniors Football Club, Ellington and Linton Parish Council and Lynemouth Cemetery.
The gifted land will be used for a range of community and environmental purposes.
Rio Tinto continues to decommission the former smelter site and remains in discussion with interested parties for the future development of the land.
In addition to rural land, The Crown Estate’s £8.1bn portfolio includes Regent Street and much of St James’s in London’s West End, one of the country’s largest collections of prime regional retail and leisure assets, around half of the UK’s foreshore and almost the entire seabed.