CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a massive electric car battery plant at Coventry Airport have been given the green light by councillors.
The proposals for the so-called gigafactory at the Baginton airport – which would create some 6,000 jobs – were agreed by Warwick District Council’s planning committee on Tuesday.
But the plans still also have to be agreed by Coventry City Council which will consider them tomorrow (Thursday).
The gigafactory, which would be powered using 100 per cent green energy through solar, wind and grid supplied renewable power, is a joint venture between Coventry City Council and Coventry Airport, which they hope will be operational from 2025.
The majority of the proposed site falls in Warwick district which is why both the Warwick and Coventry councils have to decide on the plans for the £2.5billion plant, which would cover nearly 80 hectares – the equivalent of around 150 football pitches.
Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western, who is also Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Motor Group, is among supporters of the plans.
He said: “I have long been a champion of boosting regional manufacturing with an electric battery facility or ‘gigafactory’ to support our rapidly transforming and hugely important car industry.
“More than a quarter of all new cars registered last year were electrified in some way – and we must build on this momentum for the sake of the industry and the environment.
“A new gigafactory can make this possible while securing the dividends for the West Midlands.”
Others who back the plans include local Conservative MPs Jeremy Wright and Mark Pawsey, together with West Midlands mayor Andy Street.
Supporters point to the region being home to car manufacturers including Jaguar Land Rover, Aston Martin Lagonda, and BMW, while Coventry Airport was already next to the UK’s largest battery research centre, the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC).
But there is strong opposition to the plans, most notably from Baginton and Bubbenhall Parish Council respectively, with both raising concern at the impact of such a large site on the green belt together with traffic concerns.
And Save Coventry Airport campaigners, who fear for the future of the airport as a direct result of the plans, held an open day at the weekend.
Others objecting include the All Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation, The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE), and Royal Mail, which has a hub neighbouring the proposed site.
If Coventry City Council backs the plans on Thursday, the final decison would rest with Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, as the development site is within the greenbelt.