MSP questions First Minister over Fort William smelter

Jamie Halcro Johnston MSP.

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Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston has pressed First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for a statement to be made to the Scottish Parliament on the future of jobs at the Lochaber aluminium smelter in Fort William.

The issue was raised at First Minister’s Questions this week following concerns about the financial position of the GFG Group after one if its major financial backers looked set to enter administration.

The Conservative MSP questioned the First Minister on bringing ministers to Holyrood to answer questions and also queried the prospect of the facility falling into public ownership.

The Scottish Government has previously provided extensive guarantees for the business, which took over the smelter in 2016.

‘Our first concern must be with jobs at the Lochaber plant – and that the Scottish Government and its agencies are working with GFG to best insure that it will continue to operate,’ said Mr Johnston.

‘The First Minister has said that the government are in regular contact with GFG. I have urged her to ensure that the relevant ministers come before the Scottish Parliament to answer – in detail – what is going on and to provide any reassurances that they can to the workforce.

‘I welcome the indication that a statement may be made next week, as it is clear that there are still important issues to be addressed. Big promises were made when GFG took control of the smelter that have not come to pass and there are much wider concerns about the financial exposure of the Scottish Government in the deal they have made.

‘But above all, we should all be working to ensure a future for the Lochaber smelter as a significant local employer and a big part of the region’s economy.’MSP