Wales has been hit by a second major blow to future jobs, with another major factory planned for the south of the country now being built elsewhere.
The UK’s first electric battery ‘gigaplant’ that had been due to be built in the Vale of Glamorgan, will now be in the north-east of England, creating 8,000 jobs. In July, Britishvolt said a memorandum of understanding (MOU) had been signed with the Welsh Government with the aim to start building the factory next year.
But, it was announced on Thursday that they had decided on a £2.6bn investment at a site in Northumberland instead. It is the second time this week that a second major factory has decided not to come to Wales, after Ineos Automotive confirmed its new 4×4 cars will be manufactured in France, ending hopes that a new plant in Wales, which would have brought 500 jobs, could be built.
The firm said the former Mercedes-Benz Hambach factory in Moselle, France, will build the Grenadier vehicles instead following a deal with the German carmaker.
Britishvolt said construction on the Northumberland factory is set to start on the 230-acre site next summer and once fully operational it will employ 3,000 people directly, plus a further 5,000 in the supply chain.
By the end of 2023 it will produce enough lithium-ion batteries batteries to power between 300,000 and 500,000 electric vehicles a year.
In July, the company signed a lease for a former Royal Air Force base at Bro Tathan business park at St Athan. Britishvolt’s chief operating officer, Orral Nadjari, had said: “Wales has welcomed us with open arms and exceptional due diligence and we believe the country has a vast untapped potential. We finally came to an agreement with the Welsh Government so we are absolutely excited and very happy with the outcome of the negotiations.”
He said then that they were not looking at any other sites, and First Minister Mark Drakeford described the agreement as an “important next step ahead”. But that deal is now over.
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On Friday, the Welsh Government said it was disappointed but hoped there would still be potential for a joint-venture in the future.
It said: “We have been working closely with Britishvolt for several months to explore and assist their plans for the establishment of a gigaplant at Bro Tathan.
“Given the ambitious timescales that the company is working to, it has been mutually agreed that Bro Tathan will not be the site of Britishvolt’s first gigaplant.”