Coventry City Council will enter into an agreement with the Coventry Airport Ltd Joint Venture to develop plans for a Coventry Airport Gigafactory.
In the UK’s pursuit of a Gigafactory, the public-private collaboration constitutes a game-changing project and further confirms the appeal of the West Midlands to battery suppliers.
Proposals will be produced by the joint venture partners and an outline planning proposal for the Gigafactory in 2021 will be submitted. This will take place in combination with regional negotiations with suppliers of batteries and car manufactures to ensure the requisite long-term investment.
The strategy would dramatically increase the attractiveness of the West Midlands as an investment destination, while substantially decreasing the time necessary for the operation of the Giga Factory.
The West Midlands is now home to many car manufactures, including Jaguar Land Rover, Aston Martin Lagonda, BMW, LEVC and others, and is already the centre of the UK automotive industry.
Securing a Gigafactory in the West Midlands has been recognised as key to the car industry’s continued success, generating thousands of renewable jobs, raising up to £ 2 billion in funding, and helping Net Zero’s push.
The Government of the United Kingdom is aggressively seeking investment in a Gigafactory and has made up to £ 500 m of funding available, which will be bid for in due course by the West Midlands.
Coventry Airport has officially been endorsed as the chosen site for a Gigafactory by the West Midlands Combined Authority, which is headed by the West Midlands Mayor and includes the seven urban councils of the area. Up to 4.5m sq ft of commercial space could be accommodated at the airport site, allowing use of the wide areas of hard-standing and current construction.
Cllr George Duggins, Leader of Coventry City Council, said: “Coventry has 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.
“Our Joint Venture partnership is unique in the UK and creates a strong platform to attract investment and deliver more than 4,000 new jobs, support our automotive sector, and secure our competitive advantage.”
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “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 Coventry Airport Ltd will continue to establish our region as the obvious location for a UK Gigafactory.”
Cllr Andrew Day, Leader of Warwick District Council, said: Andrew Day, Leader 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.”
The joint venture between Coventry City Council and Coventry Airport Ltd is expected to be accepted at a meeting on 23 February by the Cabinet of Coventry City Council. A planning application will be submitted in 2021 and the Gigafactory at Coventry Airport will be operational by 2025, due to fruitful negotiations with car manufactures and battery suppliers.