The UK's first 'game-changing Gigafactory' for producing batteries could be built in the Warwick district

Experts hope this will be a huge shot in the arm for the automotive industry, which plays a key part in the local economy

The UK's first 'Gigafactory' - which can produce and manufacture the latest battery technology - could be built in the Warwick district.
The UK's first 'Gigafactory' - which can produce and manufacture the latest battery technology - could be built in the Warwick district.

The UK's first 'Gigafactory' - which can produce and manufacture the latest battery technology - could be built in the Warwick district.

And experts hope this will be a huge shot in the arm for the automotive industry, which plays a key part in the local economy.

Coventry Airport has been named as the preferred site for a Gigafactory, which will particularly look to produce batteries for electric vehicles.

From left to right: Cllr Andrew Day (leader, Warwick DC), Cllr George Duggins (leader, Coventry CC), Margot James (executive chair, WMG), Andy Street (Mayor of the West Midlands) and Nick Abell (xhair, CWLEP).

Such factories have already been developed in other parts of the world – for example, by Tesla in the USA – but there is currently no Gigafactory in the UK.

The West Midlands Combined Authority, which is led by the West Midlands Mayor and comprises the region’s seven urban councils, has formally endorsed Coventry Airport as the preferred site, which lies to the north of the Warwick district.

The airport site could accommodate up to 4.5m sq ft of commercial space, making use of the large areas of hard standing and existing development.

As part of the proposal, Coventry City Council will enter a Joint Venture partnership with Coventry Airport Ltd to develop proposals for the Gigafactory.

The Joint Venture partners will submit an outline planning application for the plan in 2021. This will take place alongside regional discussions with battery suppliers and automotive manufacturers to secure the long-term investment needed.

Local leaders say the move could be 'game-changing'.

Cllr Andrew Day, leader of Warwick District Council, said: “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.

"In relation to the site now being proposed, Coventry Airport is within the Warwick District Council area and as the Strategic Local Planning Authority, this council will ensure that the planning application is considered rigorously, meticulously and diligently, as is every application submitted to us.

“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.”

Matt Western, MP for Warwick and Leamington and chair of the All-Party Motor Group in Parliament, said: “Warwickshire and the West Midlands have always been the UK’s industrial heartlands, and the jewel in the crown of our automotive sector.

“Ambitious plans to phase out petrol and diesel along with Brexit complications mean we are going to have to produce batteries at home and at scale if the sector is to compete globally in the long-term.

“Coventry and Warwickshire, more specifically the old airport site, is clearly the best location for a battery production Gigafactory to serve manufacturing giants Jaguar Land Rover as well as Aston Martin and BMW Mini.

“Our area is vital to UK manufacturing and the prospect of 4,000 jobs would be a massive boost.

“Coventry's bid has my full support and I urge ministers to back it.”

Mr Western will be sending a letter to business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng outlining why Coventry is the best position for the Gigafactory.

Andrew Bell, CEO of Regional City Airports who own and manage Coventry Airport, said: “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.”

The Joint Venture between Coventry City Council and Coventry Airport Ltd is set to be approved by Coventry City Council’s Cabinet at a meeting on 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.

For more information, visit www.ukgigafactory.com