MP pushing for sale of power plant to save jobs

Rio Tinto Alcan smelter at Lynemouth.
Rio Tinto Alcan smelter at Lynemouth.

WANSBECK MP Ian Lavery has pledged to do all that he can to ensure the long-awaited sale of Alcan’s Lynemouth power station goes to plan.

The plant, which is now redundant following the closure of the adjacent aluminium smelter, has provided a glimmer of hope that at least some jobs can be safeguarded on the site.

Negotiations with a potential buyer have been ongoing for some time, however, plans to run the power station separately from the smelter need to be approved by a drawn-out government process.

Mr Lavery said he felt positive after he attended a meeting with energy minister Charles Hendry and the Rio Tinto Alcan management team.

He told the News Post Leader: “Put simply, the smelter and the power station has been basically one and the same operation.

“They need a different licence to generate electricity.

“This is a lengthy procedure which needs to be entered into through parliament, which leaves it to the government to decide whether or not to grant a licence to operate and generate its own electricity. This takes some time.

“I met with Charles Hendry and also Alcan and discussed this with the management team.

“I said I will do everything within my power to ensure there are no hiccups.

“We can’t afford for any hiccups in order to progress the sale of the power station.

“I got a very positive response from him, he agreed with me.”

Mr Lavery, pictured, said he was hopeful that the deal could be completed soon.

“Alcan have been very tight-lipped,” he said. “What they have said is whilst this one buyer is ready to sign they are not prepared to entertain any other interested parties.

“We need to get the power station signed up and sold and begin to safeguard upwards of 110 jobs without any delay.

“And I understand quite clearly there is a procedure that has to be followed.”