Teesside plant cleared in win for the North: Tees Valley Lithium wins planning permission to build Europe’s largest refinery
‘Feather in our cap’: Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen
The Government’s levelling up agenda has received a boost after Tees Valley Lithium won planning permission to build Europe’s largest refinery on Teesside.
The £250m plant, which will supply the rapidly expanding electric battery industry, is to create 1,000 jobs.
It will start producing 96,000 tons of lithium hydroxide, a key component of batteries for almost all hybrid and electric cars, by 2025, and is expected to be capable of meeting 15 per cent of Europe’s overall demand.
It is the latest boost for Tees Valley, which has Britain’s only up and running freeport, a post-Brexit scheme to create ten customs-free, regulation-light industrial areas.
And it comes after Business Secretary Grant Shapps this month visited Teesside to unveil the UK’s first lithium refinery being built by Trafigura-backed Green Lithium.
The £600m lithium refinery at PD Ports’ Teesport is also to create 1,000 jobs during construction, and 250 when it is commissioned in 2025.
BP is powering ahead with plans to build the UK’s biggest green hydrogen facility on Teesside. And South Korea’s Seah Wind is investing £300m in a big wind turbine factory.
Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen hailed ‘another feather in our cap’, adding: ‘It’s great for UK business, never mind Teesside, which has had a difficult ten years with the closure of the steelworks and thousands of jobs being lost. It’s another example of Teesside being a place where you can come and see levelling up in action.’
It comes just three weeks after plans to make the North East a hub for green jobs and the battery industry were hit when Britishvolt, a battery company planning to develop a £3.8billion factory, this month secured five weeks of emergency funding from the commodities giant Glencore after preparing to appoint administrators in October.
Houchen said lithium production is crucial for transitioning to net-zero emissions by 2050. The Government wants to strengthen the supply chain for electric vehicles before a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030.
Lithium is the key. It is used to make batteries for electric vehicles, and for wind and solar plants. Around 90 per cent of global lithium processing is done in China and there are no refineries in Europe.
Alkemy, which owns Tees Valley Lithium, said that consent was a ‘critical step’ towards creating an entirely new industry in Europe.