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3rd Jul, 2022

Government green-light for gigafactory plans

A MASSIVE electric vehicle battery plant at Coventry Airport is a national priority says the leader of Warwick District Council (WDC) after the Government cleared plans for the controversial project.

WDC welcomed the Government’s decision to not ‘call-in’ plans for the £2.5billion so-called gigafactory at Baginton airport, which is set to create some 6,000 jobs.

WDC and Coventry City Council both resolved to grant permission for the outline plans last month before they referred the final say to Levelling Up secretary Michael Gove, due to the scale of the plant and its location in the green belt.

WDC leader Andrew Day said: “The speed of this decision is a clear endorsement by the Government that these gigafactory plans are a national priority. Mr Gove has cleared the way for efforts to be focused on securing the right battery manufacturer to take on this vitally important facility.

“The ambition is simply to ignite a new industrial revolution, to attract fresh investment in the automotive sector, and to create thousands of highly skilled jobs for south Warwickshire.”

The gigafactory, which would be powered using 100 per cent green energy – including one of the UK’s largest rooftop arrays of solar panels – is a joint venture between Coventry City Council and Coventry Airport, which they hope will be operational from 2025.

It will manufacture high-tech lithium-ion batteries for the global automotive and energy storage industries.

The majority of the proposed site falls in Warwick district and would cover nearly 80 hectares – the equivalent of around 150 football pitches.

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).

Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western, who is also Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Motor Group, is among supporters of the plan.

He said: “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.”

But the plans are still proving controversial.

There is strong opposition to the plant, most notably from Baginton and Bubbenhall parish councils, which have raised concerns over the impact of such a large site on the green belt together with fears over increased traffic.

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.

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