Outline planning permission granted for facility which could boost local economy by £434 million and create 6000 jobs
Warwick District Council and Coventry City Council have approved an early-stage planning application for a £2.5bn EV battery factory at Coventry airport.
Approval of the outline planning application – an agreement in principle to the development of a site – takes the 530,000 sq m facility one step closer to reality. Outline planning permission is expected to be officially granted in March, when the government has been consulted on the plans.
Final planning permission will be submitted once the necessary investment has been achieved and an end user for the facility identified.
The West Midlands Gigafactory, as it is known, is a public-private joint venture between Coventry City Council and Coventry Airport, who are seeking £2.5bn of investment over the next four years. They are pursuing investment opportunities with “battery manufacturers from around the globe”, and Autocar understands discussions are ongoing with the government-backed Advanced Propulsion Centre, which has £1bn of funding available for UK-based mobility projects.
It has not been confirmed how close the project is to reaching its fundraising goal.
Ultimately, the site will cover 530,000 square metres, have an annual capacity of 60GWh, add contribute a claimed £434 million in gross value to the regional economy.
The proposal also claims that 6000 new jobs will be created, with tens of thousands added to the supply chain, and that the factory will be powered by 100% green energy, including solar and wind power.
The applicants say too that Coventry Airport is an ideal location for an EV battery factory, because it’s adjacent to the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre, which is the UK’s largest battery research centre.
“It’s mission critical that the West Midlands secures a gigafactory, both for the future of our region’s automotive industry and the huge economic and job benefits it would bring, as well as the future of our planet,” said West Midlands mayor Andy Street.
“The West Midlands is already home to the country’s biggest car manufacturer, Europe’s largest research centre of its kind, the UK’s only battery industrialisation centre and a world-leading supply chain. A gigafactory therefore is the natural next step for the UK’s automotive heartland, and I will not rest until we have secured one.”
The proposed factory has also been backed by local MPs, Warwick District Council, Warwickshire County Council, the West Midlands Combined Authority and the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
The Coventry site, if it reaches fruition as planned, will be one of three operational battery factories in the UK in 2025: Nissan will expand its EV battery production facilities in Sunderland, while start-up company Britishvolt plans to open its own gigafactory in Blyth, Northumberland, in 2023.
A third of all cars produced in the UK come from the West Midlands, around Coventry, by companies including Aston Martin, BMW and Jaguar Land Rover.
The UK government plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030, and with car makers increasingly switching to EVs to reduce emissions, the need for an EV battery factory in this country is growing rapidly.
The government has also faced increasing pressure to support the development of EV battery production, following reports from the Confederation of British Industry and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders that called for progress before the UK potentially falls behind European competitors.
“Coventry has emerged as a world-leader in battery technology,” said Coventry City Council leader George Duggins. “The city is home to the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre [and] world-leading research institutions, and it’s clear to me that Coventry is the right location.
“Coventry Airport sits at the heart of this powerful automotive research cluster and is the obvious location for a UK gigafactory. Our joint-venture partnership is unique in the UK, and it creates a strong platform to attract investment and deliver more than 4000 new jobs, support our automotive sector and secure our competitive advantage.”
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