City Council and Coventry Airport Ltd join forces for Gigafactory which would bring 4,000 new green jobs - The Coventry Observer

12th Aug, 2022

City Council and Coventry Airport Ltd join forces for Gigafactory which would bring 4,000 new green jobs

A JOINT venture partnership between the city council and Coventry Airport Ltd will see proposals put forward for a Gigafactory which would bring more than 4,000 new green jobs.

The public-private partnership for the Gigafactory near the airport further strengthens the West Midlands’ attraction and need for battery suppliers.

Proposals will be developed and an outline planning application will be put forward, alongside regional discussions with battery suppliers and automotive manufacturers to secure the long-term investment needed.

The approach will significantly improve the attractiveness of the West Midlands as a destination for investment, whilst drastically reducing the time needed for a Gigafactory to become operational.

The West Midlands is already the heart of the UK automotive sector, and home to several automotive manufacturers, including Jaguar Land Rover, Aston Martin Lagonda, BMW, LEVC and others.

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 £2billion of investment, and supporting the drive for Net Zero Carbon.

The UK Government is actively pursuing investment in a Gigafactory and has made up to £500m funding available, which the West Midlands will be bidding for in due course.

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), led by the Mayor Andy Street and comprising of the region’s seven urban councils, has formally endorsed Coventry Airport as the preferred site for a Gigafactory.

Coun George Duggins, Leader of Coventry City Council, said the city had 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.”

He said the partnership was unique in the UK and created a strong platform to attract investment and deliver more than 4,000 new jobs, whilst supporting the automotive sector.

Mr Street added: “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 underway with the UK’s leading car makers and battery suppliers across the globe to put together the strongest bid possible.

“I will not rest until the West Midlands has the Gigafactory it needs.”

Andrew Bell, CEO of Regional City Airports who own and manage Coventry Airport, said: “Coventry City Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority have together identified Coventry Airport as the preferred site for a Gigafactory.

“Coventry Airport Ltd has been working to deliver the best possible outcome for the region and are ready to back the West Midlands through a Joint Venture with Coventry City Council.

“We recognise what a significant opportunity this is and are backing the project with investment alongside our public sector partners.

“This is a ground-breaking initiative, and we are excited to be a part of it.”

Nick Abell, Chair of Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership said: “Coventry and Warwickshire has worked incredibly hard over recent years to ensure the region is an attractive destination for investment, particularly in automotive and battery manufacturing, allying our engineering heritage and capability with our cutting-edge research.

“Since securing the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre in 2017, our capability in battery technology has gone from strength to strength.

“The Joint Venture between Coventry City Council and The Rigby Group will continue to establish our region as the obvious location for a UK Gigafactory.”

Coventry Airport is within the Warwick District Council area.

The authority’s leader Coun Andrew Day said Warwick District Council would ensure the planning application was considered rigorously, meticulously and diligently, as is every application submitted to us.

“As a key partner in the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Warwick District Council has been supportive of the efforts to ensure that the sub-region is an attractive destination for investment, particularly in automotive and battery manufacturing.

“We have already begun work with the Joint Venture partners to ensure that the application they ultimately submit recognises and mitigates the potential impacts of these proposals.”

Labour’s West Midlands Mayoral candidate Liam Byrne MP has called on the Government to provide cash incentives in next month’s budget to encourage investment in a Gigafactory to supply the region’s emerging green car industry.

He welcomed the plans for the Gigafactory but warned that without Government incentives jobs could be lost.

Mr Byrne added: “The Government’s own Comprehensive Spending Review recommended gigafactories in the Midlands and the North East.

“Once again, the government has yet to provide a lead or commit public funds.

“Already our European competitors are being backed by their governments.

“Both France and Germany have provided financial incentives estimated to be €750million and €1billion respectively to battery manufacturing firms. Our government needs to back green vehicle manufacturing in this region on a similar scale.”

“This is vital for our future as a green car manufacturing region.”

Mr Byrne warned that 114,000 jobs, many in the West Midlands, are in peril if Britain does not start investing in UK battery factories for electric vehicles on the same scale as the European competitors.

“This goes wider than Coventry and the big car plants.

“The supply chain for our motor industry goes into virtually every workshop and industrial estate across the region. Coventry, Birmingham, the Black Country, and beyond – there are thousands of people with jobs dependant on a thriving vehicle industry.”

The venture is set to be approved on Tuesday, February 23, 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.

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