22nd Sep, 2021

Aviation journalist and pilot calls for rethink over Gigafactory and Coventry Airport closure plans

AN AVIATION journalist and pilot has expressed concerns about Coventry Airport making way for the city’s proposed Gigafactory.

And Charlotte Bailey, a member of the AOPA editorial team (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association), believes Coventry Airport is entirely unsuitable for the battery making plant.

Her calls come in the week when Tom Cruise was forced to land his helicopter in a residential garden because the airport was shut.

Plans submitted in July have earmarked the airport as the preferred location for the 4.5million sq ft gigafactory which would build electric car batteries – endorsed by the West Midlands Combined Authority.

Those behind the plans, including Coventry City Council, Coventry Airport Ltd and the West Midlands Combined Authority, claim the gigafactory is needed to meet the demand of batteries for EV cars and other uses as the nation switches from regular fuel vehicles to forms of transport considered more environmentally friendly.

And they say it would create 6,000 jobs and be powered using 100 per cent green energy through solar, wind and grid supplied renewable power.

But Ms Bailey said, despite the apparent environmental optimism pushing the proposal along, its fundamental flaws had been given little media representation.

“Although it may well suit the Rigby Group to perpetuate the portrayal of the airfield as ‘disused’, it remains very much a viable asset and is home to many businesses (including one of the busiest general aviation maintenance companies in the country), the air ambulance and the last airworthy RAF Vampire jet in the world.

“The Department for Transport recently stated that they ‘want the UK to be seen as the best place in the word for aviation’.

“The ireversable loss of Coventry’s extensive 2,000m runway would impact not only its immediate users but also the technological developments – particularly in advancing electric aviation – such an asset could assist with.

“The viability of a Gigafactory has already been called into question earlier this year, when Britishvolt rejected the site as having ‘insufficient power’ for a similar scheme – despite it making the final two of 44 proposed locations.

“The rationale behind ripping up such an irreplaceable runway may lie with the airfield’s prime location in green belt land – a status amendable only in ‘exceptional circumstances’ (a loss of protection Whitley South paid the price for as developers later revoked funding from).

“Coventry airport’s ongoing operation – with obvious benefits to not just the aviation community, but beyond – is very much a viable venture.”

She is also urging residents to submit an objection online to Warwick District Council before Wednesday’s (September 1) deadline.

People can have their say on the application via the Warwick District Council Planning Portal here.

 

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