Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell MP, and SNP leader in the House of Commons, Ian Blackford MP, dropped in on the GFG Alliance aluminium smelter and hydro power facilities at Fort William on Tuesday

Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell MP, and SNP leader in the House of Commons, Ian Blackford MP, dropped in on the GFG Alliance aluminium smelter and hydro power facilities at Fort William on Tuesday

Industrial group GFG Alliance has unveiled plans to build a new car wheel factory in Fort William.

The new plant, which could get underway next year, will be located next to the town’s aluminium smelter and hydro power facilities, which it acquired in a £330 million deal.

It is expected that the new factory will create 400 jobs.

At a consultation event in Fort William this week, Brian King, director of Lochaber operations, GFG Alliance, said: “We want to get the planning application in by the end of next month. It is ambitious and a push but we are hoping to have approval by the end of March next year and begin construction as soon as possible after that, hopefully in the second quarter of next year.”

It is hoped that the factory could start producing wheels at the start of 2020.

Mr King added: “Initially it was thought that 320 jobs would be created, but as we have got more into detail it is closer to 400. That is just direct jobs. If you take into account the knock on effect, you could probably double that.”

The new factory, in the shadow of Ben Nevis, is being designed to look unobtrusive from above and blend in with the landscape as much as possible.

Richard MacDonald, architect, Keppie Design, said: “We have designed the factory buildings to look like the aluminium ingots (or slabs). The site is pretty visible from Nevis Range and we wanted to break it down.”

There are long term plans for a research and development centre which could design car wheels for the customers.

There will be a second public consultation towards the end of October.