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Landowners accused of 'kite flying' over gigafactory bid near M54

By Dominic Robertson | Telford | Albrighton & Cosford | Published:

The landowner revealed to be looking at a potential 'gigafactory' for green belt land has been accused of "desperate kite flying" by an MP.

Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard says the land is the wrong place for development.

The Bradford Estates, which owns thousands of acres of land near Tong and the M54, has confirmed it has been working with a council on a submission to government, putting forward a location as a possible site for a gigafactory, making car batteries for electric vehicles.

The Bradford Estates, run by managing director, Viscount Alexander Newport, has a plan to build 3,000 homes on the land, as well as significant space for commercial premises.

Those proposals, to be considered by Shropshire Council later this month, had already attracted significant opposition from Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard, and local campaigners, before the prospect of a 140 acre, 3000-employee factory was revealed.

The UK government has been looking for sites for gigafactories, to cater for an expected increase in production of electric cars.

West Midlands mayor Andy Street has also made no secret of his desire to see the region as the base for a gigafactory.

Mr Pritchard said the development is wholly unsuitable for greenbelt land and called on Lord Newport to abandon the plan.

He said: "I have spoken with the Mayor's office who have confirmed they are not promoting the Tong site. They also agreed with me, that a car battery factory would be better suited to the urban West Midlands rather than rural Shropshire.

Clear

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"This is just more desperate kite flying by the landowners. I think it is now glaringly clear, the landowners are willing to construct anything on the greenbelt, putting themselves at odds with thousands of local people.

"They need to give up their failing PR campaign because my campaign, and other local campaigns, will certainly not give up. We will win. They will lose."

Mr Pritchard added that such developments should be focussed on brownfield sites.

He said: "I am all for new technology jobs coming to Shropshire but they need to be sited on existing industrial or brownfield land."

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Speaking last week Lord Newport, said he believed that if given the go-ahead then the project would be a major boost for the county's economy.

He said: “I can confirm we have been working with Shropshire Council on its submission to the Department for International Trade outlining our J3 development site as the potential location for a gigafactory.

“We were very pleased to be asked to help and believe that this type of project would be a huge shot in the arm for Shropshire and the wider local economy at a time when both county and country need to be focused on the post-Covid recovery."

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