Monday 19 February 2024

MPs raise concerns over gigafactory support

MPs raise concerns over gigafactory support

The Business and Trade Committee has released the government's response to its batteries and electric vehicles (EVs) report, highlighting concerns over the support for gigafactories.

Committee Chair Liam Byrne emphasised that the government's plan falls short of meeting key tests, risking the UK's automotive sector and 160,000 jobs.

In its report, the committee also raised concerns about Tata's investment in a new gigafactory and sought assurances that it would also benefit other UK carmakers beyond Jaguar Land Rover.

However, the government, despite investing hundreds of millions of pounds in this project and Envision's site at Nissan, asserted that such matters were the responsibility of private companies.

Liam Byrne, Chair of the Business and Trade Committee, said: "The EV industry is a critical industry for Britain’s future and if we fail to act now, we risk creating a ‘gigagap’ that threatens the jobs of 160,000 people working in the UK automotive industry.

"The UK needs 100GWh of battery manufacturing capacity by 2030, but we did not see a clear government plan to deliver that ambition. We know that we can’t win an international subsidy race but that means we need a smart framework of policy for the future.

"That’s why our committee set seven clear tests for ministers to meet if they are serious about building a world-beating EV vehicles industry. At best, the government’s response shows they pass barely half the tests we set, and some ‘passes’ were not convincing.

"We were pleased to see our progress around tariff-free trade, skills, critical minerals and long term R&D. Those ingredients are really important. But frankly, I’m alarmed that the government has no plan to even benchmark the sort of industrial support might be needed to ensure Britain becomes one of the world’s favourite places to invest.

"And nor did the government take our advice providing long-term certainty on energy costs for battery makers, or the designation of key sites for building the gigafactories of the future.

"Ministers’ preferred approach is to leave as much as possible to the market but that’s not how our competitors are behaving. We can’t merely gently accelerate into a global race for a key industry of tomorrow while others are going full throttle."

Written by

Sumit Bose

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