Rio Tinto sale due by the end of the year

NEGOTIATIONS are expected to be concluded by the end of the year to bring about the sale of Lynemouth’s power station.

It is hoped energy giant RWE’s take-over of the Rio Tinto site will be signed in the coming weeks.

The company plans to convert the plant to biomass.

A public meeting in Newbiggin Maritime Centre last week heard that talks with RWE were at a crucial stage.

Rio Tinto Regional Economic Development Director John McCabe said there were a few details to work out, but he was confident the deal would be done.

As the decommissioning of Lynemouth’s smelter continues, the meeting also heard that the site’s chimneys could be demolished in the next two years.

Just over 400 workers have now left the smelter, but Mr McCabe said 78 per cent are classed as ‘re-settled’, either in employment elsewhere or within Rio Tinto, self-employment, education or retirement.

“We continue to offer support to the people who are continuing to need it,” he said. “Unfortunately, more people will leave, some are leaving at the end of this year and a small number next year.”

Mr McCabe spoke of his wish to bring long-term investment and jobs back to the site, rather than settling for the highest bidder.

He said: “We’ve been there 40-odd years. We want to get as many good jobs back into Lynemouth as we possibly can. We don’t want to sell the site to just anyone.

“We want good-quality investment, good-quality jobs, so there is a lot of work to do.

“We are talking to people with potential interest in the site. Hopefully we’ve got off to a good start.”

He added that the Alcan legacy of community involvement would continue, with £188,000 handed over to community groups and good causes in the past year.

“We’ve tried to play a part in the community, with charities and voluntary organisations. Because of the closure, rather than pull back from that, we are really going to ramp it up,” he said.

“Next we meet as a group to allocate the next round of funding, and throughout the course of next year we will continue to make these contributions to the community.”

Rio Tinto will also be looking for a buyer for the 4,500 acres of farmland attached to the site come the next farming season.

And Mr McCabe confirmed talks are ongoing about donating land to community groups, including a strip of sand dunes north of Cresswell at Druridge Bay.