Jaguar Land Rover is expected to announce plans to build a new electric battery gigafactory in the UK.
The firm’s owner Tata, an Indian multinational, is set to confirm the news today after weeks of speculation. Up to 9,000 jobs will be created by the expected development in Somerset.
The factory in Bridgwater will initially supply batteries for a new range of electric Jaguar and Land Rover models. The size of the government’s incentive package has not been disclosed, although a figure of £500m has been reported.
Jonathan Reynolds, shadow business secretary, said: “Labour welcomes any investment in British jobs and industry and decisions like these vindicate Labour’s advocacy of an industrial strategy in place of scattergun announcements.
“In spite of the government’s cack-handed approach to industry and our economy this shows the strength of the UK automotive industry. Labour has been clear the public and private sector working together is the only way we can transition industry to keep the jobs of the future on our shores for decades to come.
“That’s why a Labour government will go further with a proper industrial strategy, investing in eight gigafactories and delivering clean energy by 2030. Our plans for the car industry will deliver 80,000 additional jobs and billions in economic growth ensuring announcements like this aren’t a one-off but the basis for a growing economy with good jobs in our industrial heartlands.”
Labour MP Darren Jones, who chairs the business and trade committee, said: “The decision by JLR to invest in battery production in the UK is very welcome. We will want to reflect, however, on the subsidy package that was required to secure this decision and if this approach is scalable to meet the need for further battery manufacturing sites for other car companies across the UK.”
Reports have indicated that the gigafactory will be located at the Gravity business park, a 616-acre site currently under construction near the M5 motorway near Bridgwater. Tata is believed to have considered Spain as a location for the plant.
Quentin Willson, founder of campaign group FairCharge, said: “While this is a very significant development for UK battery manufacturing, I truly hope that other companies in the battery, critical minerals, charging and EV supply chains won’t be neglected. The government should see this subsidy as the beginning of building a battery ecosystem in this country.
“There is a genuine fear in the industry that it could sweep up all available government support, which would be hugely detrimental to the future health of the UK in the race to zero. We have some world class battery and EV talent and we must support them as much as we can to prevent this valuable resource of innovators moving to other more receptive markets.”
Greenpeace UK’s senior climate campaigner, Paul Morozzo, said: “This is a significant moment for the UK car industry and a signal that the government has finally started the engine in the international clean technology race, while others are speeding ahead.
“But the government must stick to its laudable commitment to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030, sign off on the regulations to deliver it, and ignore attempts by siren voices to derail the EV transition.
“Failing to do so would mean waving goodbye to any meaningful electric vehicle manufacturing sector in the UK, regardless of this new gigafactory, which would put domestic car manufacturing as a whole in jeopardy.”
Earlier this year Britishvolt, a gigafactory startup, collapsed after securing pledges of £100m in government support.