Firm still aiming to lead the world

A COMPANY with close links to Rio Tinto Alcan believes south east Northumberland could still have a prosperous future ahead of it even if the smelter cannot be saved.

Astec Aquaculture Business and Science Centre, sited next door to Rio Tinto Alcan in Lynemouth, is the UK’s first development of its kind and has already played a major role in developing fledgeling enterprises.

It provides support and advice to anyone looking to set up a small aquaculture business and uses sea water heated up by Rio Tinto Alcan for its own power station to increase the varieties of sea life – both plants and animals – that it nurtures and develops.

Its bosses, although concerned about the loss of Alcan, feel that it can become a market leader, helping bring more jobs and industry to south east Northumberland.

Chief executive Kevin Haddrick said: “We have a permanent flow of tropical sea water, which is a significant advantage for anyone who wants to set up a similar business.

“We can trade in a broader range of species and create a broader range of conditions, supporting species throughout the year.

“We are the only such facility in the UK. We have a national and international role in helping to develop aquaculture businesses.

Dismissing concerns about possible knock-on effects from the loss of Alcan, he said: “Because we draw water from the power station, then if it wasn’t there, we would have difficulties heating sea water and would have to look at other options.

“If the power station was sold to another company, we’d look to build up a relationship with the new owner.

“We’ve had an excellent, close relationship with Alcan, and we have been talking to them for a while under this review.

“Because we’re here, the industry itself is starting to take notice of what we can do and is starting to put Northumberland on the map.

“This is a chance for Northumberland to be at the early stage of a growing industry and be involved in starting to develop strategies.

“We need to continue here.”

For further information about Astec visit www.astecaquaculture.com