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Plans for a huge electric car battery factory at Coventry Airport have been approved by Coventry City Council, subject to conditions and a section 106 agreement.
The proposal, which results in the airport closing, would create a ‘gigafactory’ to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles and a range of other applications and would create 6,000 jobs at the facility on average paying £40,000 pa.
261 objections were made directly to Warwick District Council and 64 to Coventry. Save Coventry Airport group opposing said losing Coventry Airport would cause “irreparable damage” to businesses who use it, The Save Coventry Airport group said.
Coventry City Council says a gigafactory is essential to safeguard and ensure the prosperity of the UK automotive industry. It says the UK is currently lagging behind the USA and Europe in battery production and there are only two (including this proposal) that are making their way through the planning process.
The government has set a target of new cars and vans to be powered wholly by electricity by 2030 and new petrol and diesel will not be sold in the UK. The proposal says therefore the gigafactory’s are needed to create a domestic capacity before 2030.
Nearly £4m has been proposed by Coventry City Council to improve transport services in an effort to pass the plans. £1.3m will be used towards London Road and Willenhall Active Travel Corridors and £1.2m will be put towards bus service enhancements.
The impact to the green belt has been considered said Coventry City Council and Warwick District Council and both concluded that the special circumstances of the development outweigh the harm identified. They say the current site has low environmental value and has no value as a recreation or leisure resource as members of the public are excluded from it.
Objections have come from the All Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation which said the West Midlands is already underprovided with aviation airfields and the “needless loss of the Coventry runway when the UK is trying to rebuild its economy would be a tragic waste of an irreplaceable infrastructure asset.”
In addition, Royal Mail currently occupies and is the leaseholder of Coventry South Delivery Office adjacent to the north of the proposed development site. It is concerned that the factory would have a severe impact on the road network.
Baginton and Bubbenhall Parish Council also objected to the due to concerns over the impact on the green belt and also the scale of the development. Bubbenhall Parish Council says the output of the proposed Gigafactory is to be 60GWh per annum, three times that of other such factories under consideration elsewhere in the country and in Europe. The Uk is expected to need 50GWh pa of battery output by 2030 and 140GWh pa by 2040.