The next step towards the construction of a massive new gigafactory in the West Midlands was taken tonight after Warwick planning chiefs approved the scheme.
At a lengthy meeting of Warwick District Council’s planning committee, councillors backed an outline application for the project at Coventry Airport despite widespread opposition from local campaigners over issues such as development within the greenbelt, the loss of the airport and the factory’s proximity to residential areas.
The proposal, which was recommended for approval by Warwick planning officers, still has another hurdle to overcome though as part of the application site falls within Coventry and its planning committee is due to discuss the same outline application on Thursday.
The £2.5 billion factory is set to house facilities to build new electric vehicle batteries, as well as recycle used ones, and is expected to create 6,000 new jobs and support thousands more in the supply chain.
West Midlands Gigafactory, which is a joint partnership between Coventry City Council and Coventry Airport, is said to be the UK’s largest project of its kind and it is hoped it will be operational from 2025.
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It will cover more than 5.38 million sq ft of space and at full capacity will be capable of delivering up to 60GWh of production per year.
It will be powered by a planned major boost to the local energy network, giving the gigafactory access to a 100 per cent renewable electricity supply from a combination of solar power and grid-supplied renewables.
The gigafactory, plans for which were first unveiled last February, would occupy the entirety of the airport site with all airport-related operations ceasing and the on-site businesses no longer able to trade from there.
However, in order for the gigafactory to happen it requires a major investor to come on board and the search for one is continuing.
If Coventry City Council also backs the plans, the applications would need to be referred to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, because the development site sits within the greenbelt.
He would then decide whether the outline application should be called in and put before a public enquiry.
Car makers are keen to work with gigafactories close to their own manufacturing bases and the Midlands is already home to names such as BMW in Coleshill, Aston Martin in Gaydon and Toyota in Derby while Jaguar Land Rover operates factories across the West Midlands.
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