Argent Energy in big green jobs blow

Unite is calling on the Scottish government to ‘step in now’ as 75 jobs are at risk following Argent Energy’s announcement that it plans to close its biodiesel plant in Newarthill. 

A difficult decision for Argent Energy.

Green jobs setback

The union responded to the latest green jobs setback in Scotland as Argent Energy confirmed its plans to mothball its North Lanarkshire plant by the 31 May following a brief consultation period, while its other plants in Ellesmere Port, England, and the port of Amsterdam, Holland, are set to remain open. 

The company supplies biodiesel to Stagecoach England, Metroline buses in London, and Eddie Stobart along with oil and gas companies including Shell and BP who blend its products with conventional diesel. Unite which represents workers at Argent Energy has demanded government action stating funding streams including the Scottish Government’s £500m just transition fund and low emission scheme grants must be urgently explored to keep the plant 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.” 

Argent Energy has inferred its closure decision has been influenced by imported Chinese biodiesel that benefits from state economic support and subsidies while also citing the UK’s inability to import category one tallow, which is the company’s main feedstock, from the EU due to regulations.   

Cruel irony

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 £500 million 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.”

Image credit: Argent Energy