Coventry Airport gigafactory plan sparks objection over ‘economic damage to region’

A specialist aviation consultancy based at Coventry Airport has lodged its official objection to huge gigafactory plans in the city.

If built, the new factory at the airport site would make batteries for electric cars and create around 6,000 jobs plus others in the supply chain.

After much talk a formal planning application was submitted in July.

READ MORE: Huge gigafactory plan for Coventry Airport hits major milestone

Among those supporting the plans is Business Secretary Kwasi Karteng, however not everyone agrees.

Sky Harbour UK Limited, which supports owner operators and business aircraft with aircraft acquisitions and aircraft management, has lodged its formal objection to planning applications with Warwick District Council and Coventry City Council.

Among the reasons they object are the closure of Coventry Airport, the potential damage to the local economy and a lack of recognition of the « significant historical importance of Coventry Airport « .

They also say there has been « significant political pressure to push the application through as quickly as possible ».

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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.

« With eight million sq ft of development land being offered as being available at Coventry Airport, Exeter Airport, Norwich Airport and Bournemouth Airport, the Rt Hon Robert Courts MP is right to be concerned, as should the country.

« As an island nation reliant on trade and commerce, we would not dream of filling in all of the harbours. Airports are an integral infrastructure that are worthy of our protection as more electrical propulsion and air mobility solutions emerge over the next decade.”

Watch: Business Secretary welcomes plans for the gigafactory

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Objection

In its letter of objection sent to Warwick and Coventry councils, Sky Harbour UK cites a number of reasons, including: the application being « speculative with no defined end user »; the closure of the airport, the application being « in conflict with the Government Policy for levelling up and directly impacts our business and those of prospective investors »; the potential « economic damage to the region » which includes Sky Harbour being unable to support the Commonwealth Games; and the lack of thought and recognition of « the significant historical importance of Coventry Airport ».

Political pressures

In its objection, the firm also states: « There has and clearly continues to be significant political pressure to push the application through as quickly as possible.

« Politicians as we all know come and go. It is therefore incumbent on the Planning Authority to retain their independence and serve as officers of the community to make judgement on the long-term benefits of an application independent of external pressures. »

What the plans say

The giant proposal for site, which would make batteries for electric cars, is set to create around 6,000 jobs but thousands more in the supply chain.

It is also said to add £434m in Gross Value Added to the regional economy each year.

The gigafactory will be powered by 100 per cent green energy, using a combination of sources including solar and wind power, as well as grid supplied renewables.

It will be able to recycle used batteries as well as build new ones in an industry-leading approach known as ‘cradle to cradle’.

If it does it is hoped a gigafactory could be up and running by 2025. A decision will be made later this year.

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