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by Matt Trinder
Industrial reporter @TrinderMatt
UNITE welcomed today’s announcement that a firm planning mass production of electric car batteries has secured government funding to build a factory in Northumberland.
The Britishvolt gigafactory, set to be constructed on the site of the former Blyth power station, is “great news for the region and could create up to 3,000 much-needed jobs,” the industrial union said.
The project, which will reportedly receive about £100 million from Tory ministers and £1.7 billion in private funding from investors Tritax and Abrdn, could produce enough battery cells for more than 300,000 electric vehicles a year.
But Unite warned that many more battery production sites would be needed if Britain’s automotive sector is to transition away from petrol and diesel cars — due to be banned from sale by 2030.
It called for Tory ministers to introduce an “interventionist industrial strategy” which integrates infrastructure, cell, battery and vehicle manufacture as part of a “genuine planned industrial strategy.”
General secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite has already signed an enabling agreement with Britishvolt for the factory, which is the best way to proceed with the project.
“However, six more [similar] battery plants are needed if the UK is to retain a world-class automotive sector that will spur the creation of thousands of decent jobs and help meet our climate obligations.”
Local Labour MP Ian Lavery told the Morning Star: “Government investment in Northumberland has been a long time coming.
“My constituency [Wansbeck] was the bedrock of the coal industry which fuelled the great industrial revolution and it now has the great opportunity of fueling the green industrial revolution.
“The people in my community deserve the opportunity of secure employment well into the future, something that has been and remains a priority of mine.”
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