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Site agreed for Midlands battery gigafactory

16 Feb Plans are being drawn up for the construction of a gigafactory at Coventry Airport.

Image from Coventry City Council
Image from Coventry City Council

The Midlands has aspirations for a lithium-ion battery factory to support electric car manufacturers, to match that under development in Northumberland.

Coventry City Council is set to enter a joint venture partnership with Coventry Airport Ltd to develop proposals for a massive battery at Coventry Airport. The aim is to get an outline planning application submitted later this year, while discussions are held with battery suppliers and car manufacturers to secure the long-term investment needed.

They say that battery production could start by 2025.

In Northumberland, a start-up company called Britishvolt plans to invest £2.6bn in the UK’s first battery gigaplant. As previously reported, ISG has been given the job of building it and is expecting to start construction this summer on a 95-hectare site that was formerly the site of Blyth power station.

The West Midlands Combined Authority has formally endorsed Coventry Airport as the preferred site for the regions’ gigafactory. The airport site could accommodate up to 4.5 million sq ft of commercial space, making use of the large areas of hard standing and existing development.

Coventry City Council leader George Duggins 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 it’s clear to me that Coventry is the right location.

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“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.”

The UK government has made up to £500m funding available for a gigafactory, for which the West Midlands plans to bid.

West Midlands mayor Andy Street said: “I have been utterly obsessed with securing a Gigafactory for the West Midlands due to the huge economic and job benefits it would bring, and so I am delighted we have announced our preferred site and taken a huge leap forward today.

“The point I have been ferociously lobbying to government is that the West Midlands is the natural place for a UK gigafactory as we are already home to the country’s biggest car manufacturer, Europe’s largest research centre, the UK’s only battery industrialisation centre, and a world-leading supply chain. By announcing the site now and driving forward with a planning application and a joint venture, we are showing how united and serious the region is about making this happen.

“The next step is to submit the case to government to win the funding required, and discussions are already well under way with the UK’s leading car makers and battery suppliers across the globe to put together the strongest bid possible.”

The joint venture between Coventry City Council and Coventry Airport Ltd is expected to be approved by Coventry City Council’s cabinet at a meeting on 23rd February.

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