Partnership supporting Scotland's aluminium industry
14 November 2011
Rio Tinto Alcan has signed up to a pioneering partnership with local and national government as part of its plans for ongoing maintenance and expansion at its highland smelter and hydro power stations at Lochaber and Kinlochleven over the next five years.
Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop, met with staff from the company along with representatives from The Highland Council and Historic Scotland to hear about how they have worked together to simplify the planning process associated with the modernisation currently being carried out by Rio Tinto Alcan at its Lochaber power station.
The Cabinet Secretary said:
“I feel this partnership is hugely significant. The agreement provides a flexible and streamlined approach to the management of the historic environment, delivering a proportionate and responsive system of planning consents.
“It demonstrates the commitment of the Scottish Government to the simplification of the planning system and to building strong partnerships with key international stakeholders. By creating a flexible approach to environment management and planning it supports the growth of industry in Scotland and its sustainable economic development.
“This innovative approach to managing an active industrial site with incredible heritage value has involved a partnership between Rio Tinto Alcan, Highland Council and Historic Scotland. The three organisations have agreed the expected programme of works at the Lochaber and Kinlochleven sites for the next five years and identified how this might impact on the historic importance of the sites.”
In agreeing the partnership, the three bodies have clarified which works will need planning permission or listed building consent and how these processes can be handled more efficiently.
Mario Foucault, Managing Director of Rio Tinto Alcan’s UK operations said:
“This agreement shows what can be achieved when organisations collaborate with one another in the interests of the wider community.
“We are very proud of our heritage in the Scottish Highlands but we need also to ensure we have a framework around which we can plan the future success of Lochaber Smelter. I am delighted to welcome to Lochaber the Cabinet Secretary and our partners in this agreement to celebrate this important occasion.”
Proposed works have then been categorised according to their significance and this clarity and advance notice means that approval for any works should now be able to be processed more quickly and in a manner which takes account of the architectural and historic interest of the site, as well as the requirements of an operational power station.
Chairman of The Highland Council’s Planning, Environment and Development Committee, Councillor Ian Ross said:
“We at Highland Council are committed to improving our Services and making them more responsive to the needs of customers – we very much see Planning as a crucial tool in the promotion and delivery of very necessary economic and community development.
“We are pleased to have had the opportunity to work with Historic Scotland and Rio Tinto Alcan in the development of this pioneering first Partnership Management Agreement – this is a further demonstration of our wish to work closely in partnership with key Agencies and others in promoting better and more efficient ways of delivering our services.
“We want to ensure that businesses have a positive experience in working through the planning process and that this results in high quality developments which promote economic prosperity. We believe that Partnership Management Agreements mean the listed building consent process will in the future be less onerous for large portfolio holders such as Rio Tinto Alcan.”
The partnership is the first of its kind from Historic Scotland and follows research into the architecture of the Scottish energy industry, which has been at the forefront of international design for decades. Further agreements with other partners from industry, education and infrastructure will be forthcoming and there is international interest in this groundbreaking work.
Notes for editors
- Rio Tinto Alcan’s Lochaber and Kinlochleven sites include a number of listed buildings at category A and B, meaning that they are of regional and national importance.
- Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.