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All jobs at biodiesel plant at risk as government urged to ‘step in’

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A union is calling for the Scottish Government to “step in now” to save jobs at risk at Scotland’s biggest biofuels company in North Lanarkshire.

Unite the Union claim 75 workers at Argent Energy’s plant in Newarthill near Motherwell face being made redundant after the company laid out plans to close the site by May 31.

The biofuels firm confirmed in March that consultation had begun to close the site with “external factors affecting the UK and EU biodiesel market” cited.

Unite said the plant will be mothballed after what it described as a “brief” consultation period with Argent’s plants in Ellesmere Port in England and in the port of Amsterdam set to remain open.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Argent Energy workers based at Newarthill are exactly the type of workforce supposed to be spearheading the march to greener jobs.

“The Scottish government needs to step in now or else its green jobs strategy will be in ruins. Unite will do all we possibly can to explore every option to keep the plant open.”

The company supplies fuel to Stagecoach in England, Metroline buses in London, and Eddie Stobart, with oil and gas companies such as Shell and BP blending its products with conventional diesel.

Esther O’Hara, Unite industrial officer, said: “Around 75 workers at Argent Energy face redundancy in a matter of weeks after the company confirmed it is set to mothball the plant by the end of May.

“Closure would be a devastating blow to the workers and their families, but also for the Scottish government’s just transition ambitions.

“There is £500m set aside for green jobs and there are also low emission scheme grants worth tens of millions which this plant should be able to access.

“It would be a cruel irony that one of the reasons given by the company for the plant’s closure is down to other governments subsidising biodiesel imports into the UK, yet our own governments in Edinburgh and London seem incapable of lifting one finger to support these jobs.”

The plant near Motherwell was opened in 2005 and is said to produce 45,000 tonnes of waste-based biodiesel each year.

Argent said it would work closely with all employees impacted.

Louise Calviou, chief executive officer of Argent said in statement last month: “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.

“We and our shareholder remain dedicated to our ambitious growth plans, and our mission to displace as much fossil fuel as possible continues.”

The Scottish Government have been contacted for comment.

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