This has been a tough year with many ups and downs, sometimes difficult to see a clear way forward.
Our journey started with comment to the Lochaber News in January. Since then we have been taking initial soundings from a potential board, incorporating the company, building the membership, engaging with Rio Tinto Aluminium and working with other potential partners. We have worked through the several stages of RTA’s process and now find ourselves in a good position to negotiate with GFG Alliance, the new owner. We therefore move from being a minor party of several in a bidding process to being able to negotiate face to face with a party whom we can meet in the same room, which is a much improved position from having to second-guess a process being run from the other side of the Atlantic. The GFG Alliance has given us every encouragement and we look forward to meetings early in the New Year.
The prime aim of the Trust was to see the continuation of the operation of the Smelter but for much of the process this remained uncertain. We are of course overjoyed at the outcome and will play whatever part we can to underpin the venture.
We attended the handover from Rio Tinto Alcan to SIMEC and Liberty House Group on 19th December and heard the First Minister again publically endorse our plans as being complementary to the Scottish Government’s aim of One Million Acres in community ownership by 2020. She also welcomed the undertaking from GFG Alliance to work with us in taking forward these plans.
Throughout we have had solid advice and support from the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and their Community Assets Team and we much appreciate that.
At this appropriate time and as we move forward to the next important stage, we thank each of our members, the media and others who have encouraged us throughout 2016. Ceud taing agus Bliadhna Mhath Ùr Dhuibh Uile!