Plans for a gigafactory at Coventry Airport will be drawn up to build batteries for electric cars, following approval from Coventry councillors.
Yesterday (February 23), Coventry City Council’s cabinet backed a joint venture partnership between the authority and Coventry Airport.
Following the approval, a planning application will be submitted in 2021 and, subject to successful discussions with car makers and battery suppliers, a gigafactory at Coventry Airport could be operational by 2025.
Speaking at cabinet, councillor Jim O’Boyle said: “We have been working hard on this as we knew this is a really vital bit of infrastructure and the jobs it will create, 4,000 directly, up to 20,000 indirectly.
“Putting together this joint venture with the leaseholders of Coventry Airport and the Rigby group is to make it very clear to anybody that will listen – particularly the Government – that we need to make a decision to help support this business and industry going forward by getting on with the decisions so those businesses can start to invest and prepare for the future.
“2030 - when all internal combustion engines will no longer be able to be sold in this country - is not that far away. It takes many years for the development of these vehicles.
“In Europe there are 16 gigafactories that are either built or in the process of being built so we need to crack on with this and make this decision now to support the industry.”
Securing a gigafactory in the West Midlands has been identified as vital for the continued success of the automotive industry, creating thousands of 'green' jobs, attracting up to £2 billion of investment, and supporting the drive for Net Zero.
The Government has made up to £500m funding available to support the investment in a gigafactory, which the West Midlands will be bidding for, said Coventry City Council.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said the UK must secure investment in battery gigafactories “at pace”, following the post-Brexit trade deal.
Developing gigafactories are a key part of the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan.
Currently, the West Midlands is home to automotive manufacturers including Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), Aston Martin Lagonda, BMW and LEVC.
George Duggins, leader of Coventry City Council, said: “Coventry has emerged as a world leader in battery technology.
“The city is home to the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre, world-leading research institutions, and the UK’s largest car maker (Jaguar Land Rover) 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.
“It will immediately plug in to a mature automotive supply chain and skills eco-system.
“The green industrial revolution is coming, and I will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that Coventry is right at the heart of it. We have the site, the skills and the pedigree to make this work.
“Our joint venture partnership is unique in the UK and creates a strong platform to attract investment and deliver more than 4,000 new jobs, support our automotive sector, and secure our competitive advantage.”
In December 2020, battery technology company Britishvolt announced it would be building its first £2.6 billion gigaplant in Blyth, Northumberland, that will start production of EV batteries from 2023 and will scale to 300,000 units a year.
Global construction specialist ISG has been appointed to lead the build of the £2.6 billion project, where construction will start in the second half of 2021.
Plans for the airport site in Coventry could accommodate up to 4.5m square foot of commercial space and have been backed by the West Midlands Combined Authority.