One of the world's top industrial groups today announced it had chosen a site at Eggborough, near Selby, on which to build a new £60 million glass factory.

The float glass production plant will initially create 165 jobs in work-starved Selby area, where unemployment is running at 6.3 per cent.

Selby broke open the champagne after winning a straight fight with Grimsby, where a site had also been earmarked by France-based company Saint-Gobain.

The manufacturing giant, which employs over 100,000 people in 60 countries, has submitted a planning application to Selby District Council to develop the 96-acre site next door to Eggborough Power Station.

Saint-Gobain's UK general delegate Paul Neeteson said they hoped to start construction work in July of this year, with completion scheduled for next summer.

He said the new plant would produce 185,000 tonnes of float glass a year, most of which would supply the company's UK glass processing and installation subsidiary, Solaglas.

It would also reduce costs of shipping glass from the company's international float lines, and help meet the increasing demand of the European market.

Saint-Gobain had narrowed down its search to Eggborough and Grimsby as it sought to establish its first foothold in the UK.

But Selby got the vote because the plant will be able to plug into a large electricity supply provided by Eggborough Power Station, and boasts a good national road and rail network.

The new plant is also expected to create spin-off employment in servicing, maintenance and transportation.

Mr Neeteson said the company had undertaken a complete environmental impact assessment, looking at all aspects of environmental protection.

This included noise control, emissions, visual impact and the underground reservoir directly beneath the site which supplies drinking water to a large part of Selby area.

He said: "We are confident that the measures proposed in our planning application will minimise disruption in Eggborough.

"Nevertheless we are keen to consult with local people about the development as soon as possible, and we are arranging a series of meetings with community representatives to fully explain our plans."

Today's announcement follows months of negotiations between Saint-Gobain, Selby District and North Yorkshire County Councils, and Yorkshire and Humberside Development Agency (YHDA).

John Siddall, chief executive of YHDA, said: "This is excellent news for Selby area. It confirms our ability to attract large manufacturing projects through a combination of ideal sites, readily available labour, and a first class infrastructure."

District council leader Geoff Lynch said he was delighted that Saint-Gobain had chosen Selby.

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