UPDATED: Highly sought GSK plant project runs into local opposition

After a national effort by Prime Minister David Cameron's government to induce GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) to expand its operations at home, a plant in Montrose, Scotland was included in the drugmaker's grand scheme to invest £500 million ($790 million) in the U.K. But in an illustration of the idea that all politics are local, a county council has stuck its finger in GSK's eye by turning down the drugmaker's plan to power it, in part with wind turbines.

Even after a reminder by GSK site manager Andy Ross of how important the API plant is economically to the area, the Angus Council yesterday voted 9-2 against the 85-meter-high turbines, The Courier reports. Local residents don't like the looks and worry about the effect on the town.

In an email response to FiercePharma, GSK spokesman Philip Brown says, "In essence, the refusal of the turbines won't impact the company's plans to invest in a vaccine adjuvants plant which will cost in the region of £25 million. This was announced in March 2012 as part of a £50 million package which included further investment in current products at Montrose, with around £10 million earmarked for the turbines and other energy efficiency technologies."

In March, after the U.K. Parliament approved a lower corporate tax rate on profits from U.K.-owned intellectual property, GSK said it would build its first new plant in the U.K. in 40 years in Ulverston, Cumbria. It also would invest £100 million ($158.3 million) in upgrades at existing plants in Irvine and Montrose in Scotland.

Ross reminded council members that in 2006 the Montrose plant was slated for closure. The expansion means work for local contractors and £25 million ($39.6 million) in annual salaries for locals. He said £50 million ($79.1 million) has been budgeted for a new product at the plant that helps ensure its longevity.

''The turbines will help make the site more attractive environmentally and commercially and underpin the 270 members of staff," The Courier quotes Ross telling the council members. ''It will help us double the size of the business over the next 5 to 6 years and I ask you to approve the application, given the economic significance of the factory to the town.''

But Montrose was never on board with the turbines; locals last year filed more than 360 objections to the 426-feet-high generators. So the council's response Tuesday? We appreciate what you have done, but don't put your turbines in our backyard. The council said GSK will just need to find another way to reduce its carbon footprint and power its plant. 

- read The Courier story 
- more from the Montrose Review 

Related Articles: 
Scottish town blows off GSK's wind turbine plan 
GSK to build new U.K. site, create up to 1,000 jobs 
GSK site pulls out all stops in plant-investment competition 
U.K. competition heats up for new GSK plant

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