Coventry trader fights against gigafactory plan

One of the aviation companies trading at Coventry Airport has launched a powerful and detailed objection to the planning application to turn the airport into a site for a battery factory.

Sky Harbour UK is a specialist aviation consultancy that moved to Coventry Airport on 1 February 2021, just two weeks before the announcement of the proposed gigafactory.

Steve Ford, CEO of Sky Harbour, said, “We identified Coventry Airport as being strategically and geographically suited to support customers and clients in the Aviation and Aerospace industry during a period of significant change, post Brexit and in a continuing Covid environment.

“With one of the largest Maintenance and Repair Organisations (MRO) in the country and a significant number of training organisations, both Approved Training Organisations (ATO) and Declared Training Organisations (DTO), the airport possesses one of the best paved runways in the country at 2,008m in length, and was identified as being a suitable site for our business.

“In 2020 we approached the airport operator Coventry Airport Limited and its parent company the Rigby Group with our commercial aspirations and our requirement for a purpose built facility in the region of 20,000 sq feet. This would lead directly to job creation and employment in a highly skilled discipline: Aviation and Aerospace.

“This vision and aspiration was shared with the Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub (LEP) with a formal briefing on 7 January 2021 prior to our re-location.

“The announcement of a proposal for the Gigafactory announced on 15 February 2021 was the first time we as a business stakeholder at Coventry Airport were informed by any party.”

Sky Harbour’s objection to the planning application is thorough and extensive:

  • The application is speculative with no defined end user and is in effect for “Change of Use”. A tactic commonly known as “Bait and Switch”.
  • The application would result in the closure of the Airport, which we require in order to trade and we therefore object.
  • The application does not comply with The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) July 2021 for Green Belt protection.
  • The application is in conflict with National Policy as covered within the Ministerial Statement by the Rt Hon Robert Courts MP.
  • The application is in conflict with CAA Policy (DfT) and is covered within the Civil Aviation Road Map.
  • The application is in conflict with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) for consideration of National Airport infrastructure.
  • Previous development at the airport by the applicant has reduced significantly the volume of extensive areas of open land and further erosion should therefore be prohibited.
  • The application is in conflict with the Government Policy for levelling up and directly impacts our business and those of prospective investors.

Steve Ford goes on to identify Rigby Group’s degradation of infrastructure, navigational aids, operating hours and reduced fire cover, all of which have made the airport less viable.

Right idea, wrong place

Sky Harbour goes on to point out that the airport location “is at odds with industry norm for the construction of battery manufacturing facilities and decommissioning sites, away from areas of population”, citing a fire at Tesla’s battery factory in Australia.

Northumberland gigafactory
So far the UK’s only confirmed gigafactory is being constructed at Blyth, Northumberland where the location is a former power station. Image: Britishvolt

The planning application (W/21/1370) can be found on Warwick District Council’s website here where the consultation period finishes on 22 September.

The planning application (OMES/2021/2268) can also be found on Coventry City Council’s website here where the consultation period ends on 9 September.

A decision is expected on 7 November 2021.

Comments

  1. Probably worth a look at Skyharbour U.K. on the Companies house site. Done with all good intention but I don’t think Skyharbour U.K. present a credible threat to this project.

    1. This is`nt the Nick Howard who is the Cotswold Airport Manager whose Airport would benefit if Coventry Closes by any chance?

      1. It is “the Nick Howard” but you should probably do a fact check, I resigned from CA in Dec 17 and have nothing to do with the business anymore. CA came under threat of re development by the owners and their developer chums I did my best to thwart these plans, one of the development team blamed me for doing so which I took as a compliment at the time. I’m think I’m being realistic about Cov, the bid for the Giga factory has a lot of influential backing, it’s a much tougher battle than at CA and it needs credible opposition, frankly this isn’t.

  2. Concerned about the proposed development at Baginton. Airfield opened in 1936 produced Whitleys, Lancasters and Meteor jets. A historic airfield home to many pioneering developments.

    It had many flying clubs and a/c engineering firms based there on my last visit in May. Noticed the old Alvis test beds had gone since the Rigby Group took over the lease of the airfield.

    I believe the land is still owned by Coventry council, planning is Warwick council. The inaptly named Patriot Aviation has effectively by not updating the radar, reducing opening hours, forcing a decision on closure for their and the councils’ profits.

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