JOBS could be at risk at one of the largest employers in the Ribble Valley amidst predictions for a "tough" 2012.

Fears have circulated that jobs are set to be axed at Castle Cement in Clitheroe as the parent company of the site, Hanson Cement, announced that there are to be changes in production at the site.

Castle Cement meets 25 per cent of the UK demand for cement and employs around 300 people in Clitheroe.

But the credit crunch has hit the firm hard with demand at a low not seen since the Second World War.

Jon Morrish, managing director at Hanson Cement, said: "We informed employees two weeks ago that we were carrying out a detailed review of the cement business to prepare us for what we expect to be a very tough market in 2012 and beyond.

"This review, which includes an assessment of recent changes to the European carbon trading rules, encompasses all three of our cement plants (Ketton, Clitheroe and Padeswood) and covers all functions from production and sales to technical and distribution.

"The three plants are all vitally important to the long term future of the business and there is no intention to close any of them.

"However, it is likely that production levels will change, which will have an impact on jobs. We plan to table outline proposals to employee representatives and recognised trade unions early next week and begin a proper and effective consultation process."

Bosses at the firm said the review comes in light of the recent changes to the European carbon trading rules.

The carbon trading scheme is used to charge industries such as oil refineries, power stations and steel works for CO2 emissions as part of Europe's efforts against climate change.

In 2009 Hanson announced it was shutting the historic Accrington Brick factory, where the famous Nori bricks were manufactured, with the loss of 83 jobs.

Elsewhere within the company a kiln was to be shut down at Rutland meaning a loss of manufacturing staff.

More than 1,000 people are employed at three works in Clitheroe, north Wales and Rutland, supported by terminals in Avon and Humberside, and a network of depots.

Clitheroe mayor, Sue Knox, said: "If there are job losses it is devastating blow for many families in the area in the run up to Christmas.

"It will be an item on the agenda at the next town council meeting to see whether we can out pressure on the government to provide stimulus for the local economy and we will also be looking at measures to provide support for all local families."