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Financial crisis does for Scottish biofuel plant

Plans for £65m facility on indefinite hold

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Chemical company Ineos Enterprises has "put on hold" indefinitely plans to build a £65m biodiesel plant in Grangemouth, near Falkirk.

The company, which already operates a synthetic ethanol refinery in the town, said the "current economic slowdown had rendered the project unviable", according to the BBC.

The proposed facility - announced back in 2006 and expected to be operational this year - would have produced 500,000 tons of biofuel a year. It had attracted a £9m grant from the Scottish Government, which Ineos has returned.

Ineos said in a statement: "Given the continued and prolonged global economic downturn Ineos is focussing on tight control of costs and expenditure across its entire portfolio.

"As a consequence, ongoing plans to invest in new additional biodiesel capacity across Europe are on hold until Ineos has a clearer picture of the economic outlook. Across Europe, manufacturing industry, including chemicals and biofuels, is experiencing a period of unprecedented volatility and uncertainty and accurate forecasting is expected to remain extremely difficult in the short-term."

The convener of Falkirk Council's economic development committee, councillor Craig Martin, said: "We are obviously disappointed that this innovative idea isn't going ahead. However, we fully recognise that many businesses across the UK are being forced to rethink their operations.

"We are willing to assist Ineos in any way we can, particularly when it comes to preserving jobs."

Ineos Enterprises already operates a biodiesel plant in Baleycourt, France. A spokesman said the firm would press ahead with plans to double capacity there. ®

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