On the roadmap to decarbonisation, escalating the transition from fossil fuel-powered vehicles to electric vehicles (EV) is a major milestone. And with both Government targets and global investment supporting a fast-track journey to EV, the route appears clear to reach this important destination within the decade.

But it’s not as simple as simply switching from one type of technology to another. To have confidence in developing new EV models and upscaling EV production, automotive manufacturers need to know there will be a reliable supply of advanced batteries, designed specifically to power vehicles. That’s why the recent announcement that Britishvolt has secured planning permission to construct a Gigaplant on a 53 hectare site in Northumberland, supported by a 1.4GW hydroelectric renewable energy supply, is so significant. The plant will be the cornerstone of Britishvolt’s aim to create ethical battery cells and the plan connects responsible manufacturing, responsible car ownership and social responsibility in a single industrial environment that will generate opportunity for the North East and the UK, while providing the essential infrastructure for a low carbon future and sustainable road transport.

The technical complexities and mission critical timescales involved will require meticulous planning, a clear focus on health and safety and a collaborative approach across the delivery chain. Global Construction Specialist, ISG, has already been appointed as the construction partner for the £2.6bn investment and it will require multi-disciplinary expertise from a supply chain with the skills, experience, local resources and can-do approach to create a facility unlike anything that has ever been constructed in the UK before.

The project has the advantage of learning from previous battery production facilities around the world in terms of design, construction and project management. While other markets may have taken the lead in being the first, the potential to be the best and to embed sustainability in the design and operation of the facility give the Britishvolt Gigaplant the potential to compete effectively on a global basis.

Precision will be key. While many industries require sensitive production equipment that needs to be installed and operated within tight tolerances, battery production involves extreme levels of accuracy and exceptionally sensitive equipment. At AIS Vanguard, with our track record of working in precision manufacturing environments, including automotive, aerospace and pharmaceuticals, we understand the importance of planning and delivery when moving, lifting and installing equipment to the most exacting specifications. Both our Rotherham and Newcastle branches already work with many of the automotive manufacturers operating in the North East, as well as their supply chains, and we have the expertise required to plan and risk assess each operation thoroughly. We also have the wide-ranging fleet of locally-based lifting equipment needed to tailor the lift and shift approach needed for each element of a project like this to the requirements on the ground. Finally, our Rotherham and Newcastle branches also have the expertise to plan and implement projects collaboratively, bringing proactive problem solving to the table, along with certified skills and experience.

The Britishvolt project is the second Gigaplant project to be announced for the North East and the two developments now in progress are likely to act as a catalyst for further investment and innovation in the EV sector and its supply chain. At AIS Vanguard, our expert teams in Rotherham and Newcastle can provide the local skills and experience needed to contribute to the inspirational transformation of vehicle technology from fossil fuels to zero carbon and we are looking forward to being part of that journey.