Lafarge Cement UK has confirmed that it is delaying the development of its new cement works at Snodland in the Medway Valley. Lafarge Cement managing director, Jean-Francois Sautin, said: ³We have chosen to break the link between Northfleet Works closing and the Medway plant opening. Instead we will be adopting a new supply arrangement to ensure that our UK works and the other Works in the Group¹s Europe network are fully utilised. In the meantime, we will continue with the necessary site works at Medway so that the project can swiftly be implemented when we need it.²
It had been planned that the new factory would open when production at its existing Northfleet Works on the Thames ends in April 2008. Lafarge will instead be supplying the market from its other UK plants, which will be benefiting from a multi-million investment programme over the next four years and from designated works in the rest of Lafarge¹s European production network.
Production at Northfleet will end when raw materials run out in April 2008. In the meantime, Lafarge will be setting up a new state of the art cement terminal on the Thames to store and distribute cement from designated Lafarge works in Western Europe.
³Being part of a large Group like Lafarge which has available capacity in the region gives us a unique opportunity, for the time being, to source cement as reliably and as competitively as if it was produced locally. This will ensure that we will continue to provide the service expected by our customers and that we will be well equipped to maintain our leadership on this South East market,² added Jeff Sautin.
³Our goal is to ensure that, when the time comes, we give our customers a seamless transition of supply from Northfleet to the new sources. As well as building a cement terminal, we will be making significant investment in the UK plant network to achieve this.²
Lafarge Cement¹s distribution capability for supplying the South East will also be upgraded, with improvements to the rail infrastructure at Hope Works and expansion of new depot capacity in the South East. Lafarge is just months away from completing the first phase of a new rail-fed cement depot at Theale, near Reading, which will supplied from Hope.
The new depot will complement supply direct from Northfleet, completing Lafarge¹s unique proposition for customers in the South East with supply from two sources one to the East and one to the West of the capital. This unique twin-hub distribution capability will be maintained once Northfleet closes, with supply to the East of the capital being via the purpose-built cement terminal that will be established on the Thames.