North East leaders urge Tesla to think again about new factory

Political leaders in the North East of England have invited Tesla to tear up plans to built a gigafactory in Germany after environmental concerns caused delays there.

They have written to Elon Musk, asking him to invest in an electric car plant in the borough of Hartlepool instead of one near Berlin.

The Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and Hartlepool Council Leader Shane Moore said they had a site available where work could begin as soon as February.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen

Hartlepool was said to have been second on Tesla’s shortlist of European sites but lost out to Grunheide in Germany.

Since then plans to build near Berlin have been held up due to environmentalists’ concerns over losing habitats for lizards and snakes.

Mr Houchen said: “When it comes to the skills needed to build an electric car and associated battery factory there is no better workforce than what is available here in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.

“We have the automotive experience; we are leaders in clean energy, and we lead the world in chemicals and precision manufacturing.

“Site preparation work for Tesla’s first European manufacturing plant in Germany has already been halted twice due to legal challenges from environmental campaigners and it is not hard to see more challenges if the future which would inevitably put back the start of construction and production.

“Tesla would not have any of those problems here, we have the land and we have the highly skilled workforce both for car manufacturing and the battery plant.

Mr Moore added: “Having previously made a shortlist of two, the town stands ready to welcome the company with open arms.”

Mr Musk has previously said Brexit made investing in the UK “too risky”.

Last week Britishvolt announced plans to build a gigaplant in Blyth, Northumberland, to manufacture electric vehicle batteries.