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A special meeting is to be held next month after plans emerged for ‘significant upgrades’ to Corpach harbour.
The meeting is to be hosted by two community councils – Kilmallie and Ardgour – with representatives from Lochaber Smelter operators Alvance Aluminium, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Corpach harbour operators Boyd Brothers invited to attend.
News of the possible port upgrade was revealed last week when Alvance’s parent company, GFG Alliance, announced plans to invest £94m in a new plant alongside the smelter which would use scrap aluminium to boost output at the smelter from around 40,000 tones a year to 80,000 tonnes.
This would be – subject to the firm obtaining planning consent – an alternative to the already-consented scheme for an alloy wheels plant, which has now been abandoned due to the downturn in the automotive industry.
However, the operation of the port and associated nearby businesses on the industrial estate has been the source of numerous noise and light pollution complaints for a number of years and talk of an upgrade has triggered alarm bells in the community.
In its press release last week, Alvance explained: ‘To support the developments, Alvance is also proposing significant upgrades to the nearby port of Corpach to improve efficiency of material flow.’
Asked for more information on what these upgrades would involve, a company spokesperson told the Lochaber Times: ‘The exact nature of the upgrades is subject to ongoing discussions with the owners of the port.’
At Monday night’s virtual monthly meeting of Kilmallie Community Council, Sam Thomson, of Ardgour Community Council, said she would be keen to attend a special meeting to obtain more information about what was going on.
‘There are environmental issues at Annat point already, so I’d be keen to see these dealt with before there is even consideration of further expansion,’ she said.
John Hutchison, acting chairman of Kilmallie Community Council, said members were ‘slightly in the dark’ over the Alvance proposals.
‘I think a meeting to which we can invite Alvance and HIE, as well as the port operators, might be the best way to get an update,’ said Mr Hutchison.
Local Highland Council member Allan Henderson told the meeting local authority ward members knew no more than community councils: ‘We only know what was in the press release as well.’
Councillors agreed that a meeting should be fixed, hopefully for some time in mid-December, for the issue to be further discussed.