Developers are ready to go with gigaplant site in Cambois

The developers behind a £2.6bn gigaplant earmarked for Cambois say they are all set to get going – once planning approval is given.

Friday, 30th April 2021, 10:00 am
The site of Britishvolt's proposed £2.6bn gigaplant in Cambois.

Britishvolt are looking to create 3,000 new jobs – and up to 8,000 including construction and the supply chain – with their new gigaplant producing batteries for electric vehicles.

Earlier this month, they concluded the purchase of the site at the former Blyth power station from Northumberland County Council and have begun exploratory work on the site.

A planning application in to the council has also received support from residents, with 53 letters of support and eight against, although some were from the same household.

Now, officials at Britishvolt are hoping to get the green light from the council’s planning committee in either late June or early July so they can push ahead with the next phase of the scheme – and hit their target of being up and running in 2023.

Peter Rolton, chairman, said: “The issue is making sure we get approval first time around. Time is our enemy.

"We need to get into production, we need to show progress to our investors. That’s why momentum is very important to us.

"We will start enabling works straight away, including clearance of the site and if planning approval is given, start properly in September/autumn time.”

He added: "Cambois desperately needs investment.

"75 per cent of 25-year-olds have left the area to find work. That is a shocking statistic. The social demographic has changed, the community is out of balance.

"We want to reverse that. We want to show these people that there are work opportunities here.”

Mr Rolton said reaffirmed the message that the site was the most suitable in Europe due to its links to the power grid, rail network and close proximity to the Port.

Once complete, the building – which will have a perimeter of 1.3miles – will be the biggest investment in the North East since Nissan and the fourth largest building in Europe.

Mr Rolton said their application ticked all the boxes of the site being zoned for manufacturing, low carbon and jobs.

West Bedlington Town Council, Choppington Parish Council and North East England Climate Coalition are among those supporting the application.

Other residents backed the proposal and the prospect of jobs being brought to the area, support decarbonisation, redevelopment of a brownfield site, and would put the region on the world map as a business leader.

Objections were raised by residents with concerns about the view of the building, disruption to the area, and increase of traffic in Cambois, but Mr Rolton said the entrance to the site would not be in Cambois.

Mr Rolton said he had held meetings with parish and town councillors, and last week met residents near the site in a socially-distanced outdoor session to talk through the plans as they had been unable to access the internet to see the proposals.

"It was a really good event and we parted as friends and I was able to tell them what they wanted to know,” he said.