Plans for a huge gigafactory at Coventry Airport have been approved by Coventry City Council.
Approval for the outline application was given at a city council planning committee which took place yesterday (Thursday January 13), just two days after Warwick District Council also approved the scheme.
Both councils approved the project, which could create thousands of jobs, despite opposition over a number of issues.
Coventry City Council’s planning committee also needed to approve the outline application, as part of the proposed site falls within the Coventry boundary.
The £2.5 billion factory is set to house facilities to build new electric vehicle batteries, as well as recycle used ones, and is expected to create 6,000 new jobs and support thousands more in the supply chain.
West Midlands Gigafactory, which is a joint partnership between Coventry City Council and Coventry Airport, is said to be the UK’s largest project of its kind and it is hoped it will be operational from 2025.
It would cover more than 5.38 million sq ft of space and at full capacity be capable of delivering up to 60GWh of production per year.
However, the project still requires the backing of a major investor and the search for one continues.
It will be powered by a planned major boost to the local energy network, giving the gigafactory access to a 100 per cent renewable electricity supply from a combination of solar power and grid-supplied renewables.
The gigafactory, plans for which were first unveiled in February 2021, would result in the closure of the airport and therefore impact on the on-site businesses who would no longer able to trade from there.
The application still needs to be referred to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, because the development site sits within the green belt.
He would then decide whether the outline application should be called in and put before a public enquiry.
There are currently no other battery plants in the UK but both Britishvolt and Envision AESC won consent for schemes in the North East last year.
Car makers are keen to work with gigafactories close to their own manufacturing bases and the Midlands is already home to several such firms.
The approval of the outline planning application has been welcomed by the gigafactory project director, Coventry City Council’s jobs and regeneration and climate change chief and the West Midlands Mayor.
Gigafactory project director Mike Murray said: “This is an important milestone for the West Midlands Gigafactory.
“With outline planning permission supported, the site has everything in place that future investors, likely to be drawn from the global battery industry, need for a state-of-the-art gigafactory.
“Thanks to this decision, we are now in strong position to progress our discussions with the global automotive and energy storage industries.
“Located at the heart of the UK’s automotive industry, the gigafactory is closer to almost every car manufacturing plant in the UK than any of the other proposed or gigafactories under construction making it an ideal location for global battery manufacturers.”
Cllr Jim O’Boyle, cabinet member for jobs, regeneration and climate change at Coventry City Council, said: “This is good news for Coventry.
“The gigafactory, alongside our ambitions including Very Light Rail, will put us at the front of the green industrial revolution bringing significant investment and job creation to our city.
“The gigafactory is part of Coventry and Warwickshire’s ambitious 10-year vision and investment plan, it is at the heart of an area that has been developed to create the right environment for the next generation of automotive investment.
“We have the location, people and supply chain expertise developed in the automotive and battery sectors over many years to make us the perfect location for a gigafactory.
“The next step is to secure an investor to ensure that the wider automotive and battery ecosystem in Coventry and the West Midlands continues to contribute towards increased economic growth, job creation and skills development.”
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “This is another crucial step forward in bringing our plans for a West Midlands gigafactory to life.
“Not only will a gigafactory support the future of our region’s automotive sector, creating thousands of new jobs, but it will also help protect our planet from the climate change emergency.
“It truly would be a game-changer, and I am delighted both Warwick District Council and Coventry City Council have recognised this and backed our vision.
“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, working in partnership with industry and the Government, we will not rest until we have secured one.”
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