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3 minute read

Green light for West Midlands battery gigafactory

The West Midlands Gigafactory project has taken the next step in its journey, with planning committees supporting the outline planning application for its site in Coventry and Warwickshire.

Warwick District Council and Coventry City Council have resolved to approve outline plans for the gigafactory which will result in a £2.5bn investment, creating up to 6,000 new jobs directly, alongside thousands more in the wider supply chain in Coventry, Warwickshire and the surrounding region.

Production ready from 2025, the 530,000 square metre facility will manufacture high-tech lithium-ion batteries for the global automotive and energy storage industries. The gigafactory will have capacity to deliver up to 60GWh by the end of the decade.

The West Midlands Gigafactory project has taken a step forward after receiving a green light for its outline planning application / Picture: West Midlands Gigafactory

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As the world rapidly moves towards an increasingly electrified future, gigafactories have been identified as critical to the UK’s automotive and domestic energy sectors, future economic growth and achieving net zero targets making the West Midlands Gigafactory an imperative for the UK’s electrified future.

Mike Murray, project director for the West Midlands Gigafactory, said: “This is an important milestone for the West Midlands Gigafactory. With outline planning permission supported, the site has everything in place that future investors, likely to be drawn from the global battery industry, need for a state-of-the-art gigafactory. Thanks to this decision, we are now in strong position to progress our discussions with the global automotive and energy storage industries.

“Located at the heart of the UK’s automotive industry, the gigafactory is closer to almost every car manufacturing plant in the UK than any of the other proposed or gigafactories under construction making it an ideal location for global battery manufacturers.”

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, added: “This is another crucial step forward in bringing our plans for a West Midlands Gigafactory to life. Not only will a gigafactory support the future of our region’s automotive sector, creating thousands of new jobs, but it will also help protect our planet from the climate change emergency. It truly would be a game-changer, and I am delighted both Warwick District Council and Coventry City Council have recognised this and backed our vision.

“The West Midlands is already home to the country’s biggest car manufacturer, Europe’s largest research centre of its kind, the UK’s only battery industrialisation centre, and a world-leading supply chain. A gigafactory therefore is the natural next step for the UK’s automotive heartland, and, working in partnership with industry and the government, we will not rest until we have secured one.”

The new gigafactory will be the result of a £2.5bn investment, creating up to 6,000 new highly skilled jobs directly / Picture: West Midlands Gigafactory

Powered by 100% renewable energy, plans for the gigafactory include one of the UK’s largest rooftop arrays of photovoltaic panels to harness solar power to operate the factory. The site includes facilities to store any excess solar energy for use when it is needed.

The gigafactory will adopt a net zero transport and logistics strategy with convenient access to the UK’s motorway network, as well as electrified road and rail options, saving seven million miles of HGV traffic on roads annually.

The West Midlands Gigafactory ‘cradle-to-cradle’ approach allows the plant to both manufacture new batteries and recycle used ones.

The gigafactory is a public-private joint venture between Coventry City Council and Coventry Airport. It has support from a unique alliance of West Midlands industrial groups, local government and academic institutions.

Following the positive resolutions at both planning committees, outline planning permission will be formally issued once the associated legal agreement has been signed and government has been consulted. This is expected in March 2022.

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