A bid for the CF fertiliser plant in Cheshire led by former British army chief Lord Dannatt is understood to have collapsed.

Reported in The Telegraph newspaper, the UK Nitrogen consortium failed to match the bid needed for parent company CF Industries to sell the factory at Ince in Cheshire.

It is understood that the bidders had requested a £10m loan from the UK Government. Whilst Defra indicated they were sympathetic, the Treasury were unwilling to fund the initiative.

Justin Madders, MP for the Ellesmere Port & Neston constituency where the plant is based, said he was worried that CF Industries might be holding out for an unrealistic price. There is concern that CF are pushing the price up to prevent a competing company from buying the plant. This could put additional pressure on their other plant at Billingham.

It is understood that CF are talking to a number of parties over the site but so far none of the offers have been enough to secure the long-term future of the facility and its employees.

The NFU in England are worried about the impact of the site closing permanently and are calling on the government to undertake an impact assessment from a loss of supply and replacement perspective, so that growers can start to make informed decisions when purchasing new season supplies.