Adrian’s business is one of many thriving in the area.
New manufacturing ventures range from producing ready-mix concrete to creating exquisite artisan chocolates. Other new businesses include a fitness centre, wooden pallet maintenance and storage, a pre-cast concrete producer, and a social enterprise hub for textile weaving.
Finding a responsible investor for the Lynemouth site was of paramount importance to Rio Tinto. There is a long history of industry in the north-east of England; it was a logical step, therefore, to seek a buyer for the site that would create jobs for an already skilled workforce.
The property management firm, Harworth Estates, which specialises in the remediation, restoration and regeneration of brownfield sites, was a natural fit, already owning a number of other brownfield sites in the area. It was first established to manage the many UK coal properties that had been decommissioned and now has a portfolio of more than 200 projects. The company pays particular attention to strengthening local economies and improving the lives of local people.
“Politicians were all worried about what was going to happen [at Lynemouth] – it was a good move to pick the right company with a background in this business,” said Eddie Peat, director of Natural Resources at Harworth Estates.
Rio Tinto was instrumental in securing some of the new tenants for the former smelter site, too. One of these – Lynx Precast – designs, manufactures and installs pre-cast concrete beams for the construction industry. “Rio Tinto stuck their neck out to support Lynx Precast,” said managing director, Andy Teasdale.
“Critically, they made it possible for us to move [there] whilst the decommissioning process was ongoing. Rio Tinto was unable to offer us a long-term lease prior to selling the site, but their level of support gave us the confidence to go ahead and invest over £1 million in developing our new business.”
Lynx Precast, in turn, attracted ready-mix concrete producers, H-Mix, to develop their plant at the site and the two companies now work together.
The Lynemouth operations also included 1,785ha of arable land and Rio Tinto was fortunate to find a buyer with a similarly strong reputation to Harworth Estates. The new owners of the farming portfolio, the Crown Estate, are one of the largest landowners in Britain and are well-known for their responsible approach to land stewardship.