'It should have been in Sunderland' says council leader as he reveals city was snubbed in favour of Conservative-voting Blyth for 8,000 job battery plant plan
Sunderland city leaders had lobbied to bring a huge new battery plant to Wearside they revealed as Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited the North East to approve of the plans.
Up to 8,000 jobs will be created through the UK’s first gigaplant, which will be built by Britishvolt on the site where Blyth Power Station once stood, turning out lithium-ion batteries for electric cars by the end of 2023.
While news of the investment in the region has been welcomed, Sunderland City Council leader Councillor Graeme Miller has said a strong case was put for it to be built on the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) being constructed next to car giant Nissan.
Blyth was one of the Labour stronghold seats won by the Conservatives in the General Election a year ago, turning blue for the first time since the constituency was formed in 1950.
Coun Miller said: “There’s lots of financial support invested from its Tory MP in Blyth, it’s a political decision.
"If you’re looking at facts, we've got the nationally important International Advanced Manufacturing Park.
"This is with no disrespect to Blyth, it’ll be good for Blyth.
"Nissan is at risk because we are about to crash out of the EU without a deal and at the end of the day, if there’s a tariff on Nissan’s cars, we will lose Nissan, and that's not an if, it’s a when.
"We were fighting to get this business on Wearside and it went to Blyth.
"Anything which brings jobs to the North East is a good thing, but we already have 5,000, 6,000 jobs here plus 7,000 in the supply chain, and I’m sure that all around we will get some benefit from it, but that’s not quantifiable at the moment.”
Nissan is due to start production of its new Qashqai, including an electric model, next year and already produces the Leaf.
Its own battery plant was launched at its Sunderland base in 2013 and was sold to Envision AESC for an undisclosed sum in 2017 as the car firm said it wanted to concentrate on development and production.