Plans to shut Coventry Airport and build a huge factory on the site continue to divide opinion

Rugby's MP backs the plans - but the civil aviation authority is calling for the airport to be saved
An outline of the boundaries affected by the plan.An outline of the boundaries affected by the plan.
An outline of the boundaries affected by the plan.

An ongoing planning application which would see Coventry Airport shut and a huge 'Gigafactory' built on the site continues to split opinion - with Rugby MP Mark Pawsey backing the project but the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) contending that the airport is an important part of the country's infrastructure.

If built, the Gigafactory would act as a hub for battery manufacturing for electric vehicles in the West Midlands.

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The project is a joint venture between Coventry City Council and Coventry Airport Ltd, alongside a number of other partners from across the region.

Mr Pawsey said it would represent a £2 billion investment in the West Midlands economy and it is expected to create 4,500 jobs in the manufacturing and automotive sectors.

But the CAA has lodged an official objection to the plan - a move welcomed by Sky Harbour UK Limited, which is based at the airport.

Steve Ford, CEO of Sky Harbour UK Limited, said: “Speculative property development, often with no defined end user is not limited to Coventry Airport but is evident across the

entire country.

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"The Civil Aviation Authority objection sends a clear message across the country, of just how important the national airport infrastructure is to future economic growth and job creation.”

In its objection to the plan, the CAA states that, in the short term, the airport could get a sizeable income by storing airliners and, in the long term, it could benefit from an expected rise in the use of eco-friendly and unmanned aircraft.

The objection reads: "The airport represents one of only a few of our GA [general aviation] aerodromes large enough to accommodate large airliners making it a viable destination of choice for business aviation.

"In the short term, and potentially into the future, the abundant space available could be utilised for aircraft storage.

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"Other such sites have benefited financially from such opportunities when they have arisen.

"With the advent of electrically powered flight and other alternative fuels such as hydrogen, as well as urban air mobility, we are at the beginning of a new paradigm for UK aviation.

"With unmanned aircraft systems and their various potential applications getting ever closer to commercial reality, Coventry Airport could benefit from its current position and lead the way in testing and development with academia.

"It could become one of the first GA aerodromes to benefit from new inward investment from tech firms and mail order giants that will inevitably seek to diversify and benefit from the opportunities that unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) will present.

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"The current lease holders of the site could expand their business aviation aspirations.

"The many based operators located at Coventry play a part in the local economy and provide employment.

"They require the airport to remain operational for the purposes of their business.

"If the airport were to be closed, not only would these based operators be forced to move elsewhere or close, but a vital link for the next generation of aviation professionals will be lost from the region too."