Biodiesel producer Argent Energy is set to close its only Scottish plant - leading to the loss of around 75 jobs.

The Glasgow Times understands the firm has entered into consultation with staff on plans to end production at its base in Newarthill just outside Motherwell.

Bosses say external factors affecting the UK and EU markets have driven a need for 'strategic change'. The company told the Glasgow Times this morning it is 'focusing its efforts on supporting all affected employees'.

The local site is where Argent Energy’s story started back in 2005, producing 45,000 tonnes of waste-based biodiesel each year, before the firm  expanded again in 2016. Argent’s second plant in Ellesmere Port is located on the Manchester Ship Canal and its third is strategically positioned in the port of Amsterdam.

An expansion of the Dutch facility is underway - with initial plans to triple capacity there as the plug is pulled on the Scottish operation.

A consultation process for employees at the Newarthill facility is expected to start within the next week.

A spokesperson said: "The decision to consult on closure of the plant was not easy. However, market conditions that have put severe economic pressures on biodiesel production facilities in the UK over the past two years have forced the move to ensure the continued strength and future of the business."

Chief Executive Officer, Louise Calviou, added: “This has been the hardest decision for us to make and is one we have not taken lightly. After careful consideration of market conditions and our strategic goals for global decarbonisation efforts, we believe it is a necessary step we need to take."

The firm say that unprecedented competition from imported Chinese biodiesel that benefits from state economic support and subsidies have badly hampered its ambitions. It also says it has suffered post-Brexit from the inability for the UK to import category 1 tallow – Argent’s main feedstock - from the EU due regulations.

The Glasgow Times understands shocked employees were told on Thursday to attend a meeting at the Newarthill plant the following day, where they were then told of the bombshell plan to close the site.

One worker said: "We were dumbfounded. It came totally out the blue and the workforce is shell-shocked, none of us seen this coming.

"There are around 75 people affected. People were leaving the meeting in tears."