Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Concerns Reach the Top; Minister Says Rio Tinto Would Not Give Jobs Promise

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Concerns Reach the Top; Minister Says Rio Tinto Would Not Give Jobs Promise

Article excerpt

Byline: William Green

CONCERNS about the future of hundreds of staff at Northumberland's biggest private employer yesterday reached Parliament.

Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery asked Energy Secretary Chris Huhne about the Alcan plant, at Lynemouth, in the Commons.

Owners Rio Tinto are trying to sell the site, which includes a smelter and a power station, but have acknowledged the plant may close if a sale is unsuccessful.

The developments come amid warnings that green taxes have hit energy intensive industries like aluminium-smelting hard.

Proposals to convert Alcan's coal-fired power station to biomass have also been put forward, but the company has said it was waiting for details of how the Government would support green energy production.

The Government also yesterday outlined how its plans to subsidise green electricity though the "renewables obligation".

Under the scheme, suppliers have to show they have sourced a certain proportion of power from renewables with different credit awarded to different types of power.

In the Commons, Mr Lavery said: "The Secretary of State is aware of the situation at Rio Tinto Alcan at Lynemouth in my constituency. Some 650 private sector jobs are hanging by a thread.

"The company says that the problem is the green taxes implemented by the Government, which will wipe out pounds 50m in annual profit."

He asked for details about Government support for green electricity production and energy intensive industries.

"Can he assure the House [of Commons] that those packages combined will prevent mass job losses in the energy-intensive industry sector?" added Mr Lavery.

Mr Huhne confirmed he had discussed the plant with Rio Tinto, adding: "It is regrettable that it made its decision ahead of the publication of the renewables obligation. …

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