THE owners of the Alcan smelter in Lynemouth still plan to shut it despite the Chancellor unveiling a £250m package to stop such closures in energy-intensive industries.
George Osborne cheered energy-intensive industries by confirming a £250m package of support in a bid to keep industry and jobs in Britain.
But Alcan owners Rio Tinto were still pressing ahead with closure plans last night which would mean the loss of 515 jobs plus hundreds more in the supply chain.
In his Autumn Statement on the economy, Mr Osborne said he was worried about the combined impact of green policies adopted by Britain and the European Union on heavy, energy-intensive industries.
“We’re not going to save the planet by shutting down our steel mills and our aluminium smelters, our paper manufacturers,” said the Chancellor.
He told MPs that the £250m scheme over the life of the current Parliament “will keep industry and jobs here in Britain”.
But a Rio Tinto Alcan spokesman said: “It is still our intention to close subject to consultation and to any interest that may emerge in the smelter as a consequence of this announcement.”
The spokesman added: “We welcome Government support for the UK’s energy intensive industries, especially at a time when there is so much pressure on the public purse.
“As for our own circumstances at Lynemouth, Rio Tinto will listen very carefully to any credible third parties who are able to make an offer to operate the smelter sustainably.
“We will do so in parallel with the consultation process we launched on November 16 and the support announced by the Government may help this process.”
Separate discussions about the potential sale of the site’s power station are still being held.
Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery said: “It looks as if there hasn’t been enough money allocated to resolve the Alcan position.”
The Labour MP added: “Industry has been waiting for this announcement for months now. I am very disappointed at the level of subsidy and forecast there will be many more jobs lost in the energy intensive industry through the UK.”
Sir Alan Beith, MP for Berwick, said: “The Government has been ready all along to help ease the impact on Rio Tinto of carbon targets, but the company was simply not interested.
“The Government has also made it clear that they are prepared to talk to any credible potential buyer, but we do have to prepare for the possibility that no buyer will come forward.”