Landowner hits back at MP's criticism of 'gigafactory' plan near M54

Plans to use greenbelt land for a giant electric car battery factory came from a council and not the landowner, who has hit back at criticism from an MP.

The managing director of the Bradford Estates has said that plans for the site were suggested by Shropshire Council
The managing director of the Bradford Estates has said that plans for the site were suggested by Shropshire Council

Viscount Alexander Newport, managing director of the Bradford Estates, said that the suggestion of using land west of Tong and north of Junction 3 of the M54, for a 'gigafactory' had been drawn up by Shropshire Council and submitted to the Department for International Trade.

The Bradford Estates had previously proposed building what would effectively be a new settlement on the land, with around 3,000 homes and commercial land.

Their proposal is yet to be considered by Shropshire Council, and earlier this year its leader Peter Nutting suggested it would be rejected.

However, the Bradford Estates have confirmed the site has also been put forward by the council as a potential site for a 'gigafactory', despite the authority having yet to make a decision over the original plan, or the principle of building on the site.

The council has declined to comment on the matter.

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Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard, who has been opposed to the original plan for homes and commercial land, has also criticised the latest 'gigafactory' suggestion, arguing that brownfield sites should be considered first.

In response to the criticism, Lord Newport said the 'gigafactory' plan had come from the council, and would also lead to a significant economic boost, creating up to 3,000 jobs.

He said: "Shropshire Council independently identified our J3 development site as the best potential location for a gigafactory in Shropshire and approached the estate for our help with its submission to the Department for International Trade. The estate did not propose the site to Shropshire Council. It was the council that proposed it to the estate.

“After careful investigation, the site was duly submitted by the council to the government as the only one suitable in Shropshire for such a project.

"It is therefore surprising that as a Shropshire MP, Mr Pritchard is not welcoming of a potential project that would generate high levels of inward investment and 3,000 jobs within his constituency – not to mention one that ties in with his Government's national recovery policy.

“The Government has identified gigafactories as a new and emerging industry that will play a key part in the UK’s green economic recovery.

"The people of Shropshire deserve to benefit from the training, employment and financial opportunities that such a project would bring.”

The proposals for the land have proved controversial with campaigners and would require 'exceptional circumstances' to be approved.

They are however supported by a group of Black Country councils, which want the housing numbers to contribute towards their own targets.

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