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Biodiesel plant closure would be 'devastating' for Lanarkshire

Biodiesal plant
Biodiesal plant

A biodiesel producer has proposed closing its Scottish plant, placing dozens of jobs at risk.

Argent Energy will open consultation with affected employees at its Newarthill plant imminently, having cited "market pressures" as the reason for the possible closure.

Local MP Marion Fellows described the news as a "devastating blow" to North Lanarkshire.

Argent, which uses waste fats and oils to decarbonise transport, said that it had faced "severe economic pressures" since 2022.

Workers are believed to have been told of the news earlier this month.

The site, near Motherwell, was the company's first location in 2005, before it later expanded to Cheshire and Amsterdam.

The Glasgow Times reported around 75 roles are under threat, but the company declined to confirm if this figure was correct.

Louise Calviou, Argent's chief executive officer, said: "This has been the hardest decision for us to make and is one we have not taken lightly.

"After careful consideration of market conditions and our strategic goals for global decarbonisation efforts, we believe it is a necessary step we need to take."

The company said the environment for biodiesal production had been weakened by greater competition from imported Chinese biodiesel and post-Brexit difficulties in importing feedstock.

'Huge knock-on effects'

Marion Fellows, the SNP MP for Motherwell and Wishaw, told BBC Scotland News that she was "shocked by what appears to be a very sudden reversal in fortune".

She said: "If this goes ahead it will be a devastating blow to the whole of North Lanarkshire.

"It will come as no consolation to this excellent workforce that the company is blaming external market forces.

"These are jobs that North Lanarkshire and Scotland does not want to lose".

Ms Fellows added that there would be "huge knock-on effects" for the local economy if the closure went ahead.

Argent Energy said it was "too early to say" how many employees would be affected by the closure due as the consultation process had not yet started.

A Scottish government spokesman described the news as "very disappointing".

He added: "This will be a concerning time for the staff and their families and supporting affected staff members must be the immediate priority."

The Newarthill plant has the capacity to produce up to 50 million litres of biodiesel a year.

The company was founded in 2001 and began production in Lanarkshire four years later.