NORTHUMBERLAND BATTERY FACTORY DITCHED IN FAVOUR OF £10BN DATA CENTRE

Publishing Date: Apr 18, 2024

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Plans to build a giant battery plant have collapsed after more than three years of uncertainty.

Britishvolt planned to build a £3.8bn car battery factory in Cambois, Northumberland, but the company fell into administration in January last year.

Northumberland County Council said it was now considering allowing the site to be developed in to a computer data centre.

Council leader Glen Sanderson said the money from the sale would be used for economic projects along the reopened Northumberland Line.

Britishvolt had promised to create 3,000 jobs in Northumberland following the creation of its so-called gigafactory.

But the business struggled to make a profit and ran out of money, leading to its collapse.

Australian firm Recharge Industries took control of Britishvolt after it went into administration in January.

The council said it was now considering amending the buy-back option on Northumberland Energy Park (NEP3), which was home to Britishvolt, in exchange for up to £110m from private equity firm Blackstone.

The authority claimed the plans would represent inward investment of up to £10bn and create more than 1,600 direct jobs and more than 2,700 indirect jobs over the course of the development.

Mr Sanderson said the funds would be used to create an investment fund that could be used to invest in schemes like economic projects along the reopened Northumberland Line.

Driving growth and jobs is a key priority for the council which offers a huge boost to the regeneration and renaissance of Cambois,” Mr Sanderson said.

‘Disappointing'

The investment firm plans to build a computer centre, known as a hyperscale data centre campus on the grounds.

Large data centres are used by companies including Google, IBM and Microsoft and typically comprise more than 5,000 servers and cover 10,000 square feet.

A spokesperson for Blackstone said: “We applaud the council’s focus on revitalizing a stranded site, and we look forward to engaging with them and the wider stakeholder community as we progress this meaningful potential investment.

There have been no further details of which organisation may run the data centre, but the council’s cabinet will consider the plans at a meeting on 23 April.

Labour Group Leader at Northumberland County Council councillor Scott Dickinson said the failure of the gigafactory project was “disappointing”, but that the new proposal shows “promise”.

He said: “The local community shares a sense of caution but is determined to support and ensure the success of this endeavour.

The group pledges unwavering support for all initiatives and is eagerly anticipating crucial milestones such as the submission and review of planning applications.

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