Negotiations 'ongoing' over West Midlands gigafactory despite Tata blow, says Mayor

Andy Street says negotiations with potential operators are "ongoing" in the race to secure a new gigafactory in the region.

A CGI of the proposed new gigafactory in Coventry
A CGI of the proposed new gigafactory in Coventry

The West Midlands Mayor said he remained committed to building a car battery plant at Coventry Airport, after it emerged Tata Group is reportedly set to strike a deal with the Government for a billion-pound facility in Somerset.

Earlier this year the Conservative Mayor revealed that Tata, which owns Jaguar Land Rover and has strong ties to the West Midlands, had rejected the region due to "technical aspects" of the site.

He said that while he was "disappointed" the region had missed out, the Somerset plans would be "brilliant news" for the electric vehicle industry in the UK as it would preserve and create jobs.

Labour's mayoral candidate Richard Parker said the decision meant people of the West Midlands would lose out.

Mr Street told the Star: "If this is confirmed it will be brilliant news for the electric vehicle industry in the UK, particularly in terms of jobs, but it makes no difference to our need to secure a gigafactory in Coventry.

"There are negotiations ongoing with other potential operators." Outline planning permission was given last year for the Coventry Airport gigafactory, which it is hoped will create 6,000 jobs.

Mr Parker said: "While this news is undoubtedly welcome for the wider UK economy, yet again it’s the people of the West Midlands that are losing out."

He accused Mr Street of failing to "make a convincing argument for this investment", resulting in "lost jobs" for the region.

"If we aren’t making batteries we won’t be making cars in the decades to come," he added. Tata, which has a steel park site in Wednesfield, is said to have chosen the UK over a site in Spain.

Ministers have said Britain needs up to 10 gigafactories to build the batteries required to run the country's growing electric vehicle market.

But the UK suffered a major blow earlier this year when with the collapse of the Britishvolt start-up, which had pledged to build a battery factory in the north-east.

Meanwhile Vauxhall owner Stellantis has warned it may have to shift UK electric car production abroad unless there are changes to the Brexit deal.

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