Plans for a huge gigafactory at Coventry Airport have taken a big step closer after the project was given the green light by Warwick District Council.
At a lengthy meeting of the district council’s planning committee last night (Tuesday January 11), councillors backed an outline application for the giant factory.
Coventry City Council’s planning committee must also approve the outline application, as part of the proposed site falls within the Coventry boundary. Coventry councillors will discuss the outline application on Thursday (January 13).
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.
If Coventry City Council also backs the plans, the applications would need to be referred to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, because the development site sits within the greenbelt.
He would then decide whether the outline application should be called in and put before a public enquiry.
“While we are pleased with Warwick District Council’s decision that it is minded to approve the gigafactory, Coventry City Council will also consider the application during its next planning committee meeting tomorrow. We look forward to its decision and feedback.”
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 car makers.
The Warwick District Council decision was welcomed by the local Green Party.
Warwick District Green Party said it would be a big boost to the local economy, create skilled green jobs and make a big contribution to the decarbonisation of motor vehicles in the UK.
Cllr John Dearing (Kenilworth Park Hill), said: “This is an opportunity to create a facility that not only delivers the batteries needed by the motor vehicle industry but is also as green as possible in construction and operation.”
Cllr Dearing also called for the factory to be “climate change proofed”.
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