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Aluminium

Volume 707: debated on Wednesday 11 February 2009

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether aluminium plants at (a) Wylfa and (b) Lynemouth will be closed as a consequence of European Union state aid rules and the large combustion plants directive; and what steps they will take to avert these closures and save the 1,100 jobs that could be lost. [HL911]

Lynemouth—the large combustion plants directive requires operators of large combustion plants to reduce their emissions of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dust. The directive exempts those plants which make direct use of the products of combustion in manufacturing processes.

Aluminium smelting is an electrochemical process which requires large and uninterrupted quantities of electricity. For that reason, Alcan's Lynemouth smelter has its own dedicated, coal-burning combustion plant. The European Commission takes the view that this plant should be subject to the directive. The Government, and the owners of the plant, Rio Tinto Alcan, take a different view, arguing that it falls within the directive's exemption regarding manufacturing processes. The correct interpretation of the relevant provisions of the directive is now a matter for the European Court of Justice, since the Commission has instigated infraction proceedings against the UK for not applying the directive to the Lynemouth plant.

Anglesey Aluminium—the Anglesey aluminium plant takes its electricity from the Wylfa nuclear power station and is therefore not directly affected by the large combustion plant directive.