Alcan land sale is cause for concern

Wind turbines near Alcan at Ashington.'REF 2402142433
Wind turbines near Alcan at Ashington.'REF 2402142433

VALUABLE farmland around Lynemouth has changed hands, prompting concerns about jobs and future uses.

The Crown Estate has completed the purchase of 4,500 acres from Rio Tinto’s Alcan Farms Portfolio.

It includes agricultural land, farm buildings, 19 homes and a 13-turbine windfarm leased to Scottish Power Renewables and will be known as the Ellington Estate.

Eight Rio Tinto farm workers will be made redundant in June. They will be offered job-search support.

The land was acquired by Rio Tinto in 1972 as part of the aluminium smelter development. It was put up for sale following the closure of the plant in March 2012.

Alcan Farms Director Jon Storr said: “The sale to The Crown Estate ensures the land will continue to be managed and farmed to the highest standards into the future.

“Just as we did with the former smelter employees, we will provide the farm workforce with extensive practical support to help people take the next steps in their careers.”

The Crown Estate has 360,000 acres of rural land across the UK.

Director of its Rural and Coastal Portfolio Ken Jones said: “This estate is a fantastic addition to our existing portfolio.

“Our next step will be to utilise our expertise as a rural land manager to develop a strategy that ensures the estate continues to perform well over the long term.”

In addition to the sale, Rio Tinto has donated 8.59 acres to Ellington Juniors Football Club for pitches, a clubhouse and parking, 2.79 acres to Ellington and Linton Parish Council for allotments and 0.17 acres for access and parking at Lynemouth Cemetery.

Parish councils are yet to discuss the sale, but there are concerns.

Lynemouth Parish Council Chairman Gillian Thompson said: “We were hoping that it would secure employment for the people already on the farms, plus bring some more employment. We are in a very deprived area to start with without more people being made unemployed.”

Ellington and Linton Parish Chairman George Jackson said: “We have a lot of things to consider as a parish. We need to look to the future and what this land will be used for. I think we would find it difficult as a council to accept any development of greenfield land, so we will have to see what they come up with.”