Could Cornwall be in line for one of the UK's first 'gigafactories' that would put it firmly at the centre of cutting edge green technology?

This was the request made in the House of Commons earlier today, when Cornwall MP Steve Double asked for the Prime Minister's support in building a gigafactory here, to produce lithium batteries for electric cars on a large scale.

Scientists analysing samples of rock for the presence of lithium in St Austell have already stated that Cornwall could potentially be capable of supplying one third of what the UK would need for an electric revolution by 2030.

British Lithium aims to extract lithium carbonate from the mica in granite and hopes to progress to full-scale production in three to five years’ time.


However, when the matter was raised during Prime Minster's Questions today, Mr Johnson refused to commit himself on a specific location – although he did go so far as to say he would work with Mr Double to bring one "somewhere near Cornwall."

Currently there are no such factories built in the UK, and only two potential sites on the cards.

In December it was announced that start-up battery manufacturer Britishvolt had chosen land next to Blyth Power Station in Northumberland for the UK's first gigafactory, which it hoped to have up and running by the end of 2023.

Then in February it was revealed that Coventry City Council and Coventry Airport had formed a partnership to submit a planning application this year, in the hoping of raising £2 billion for what would be the second such site.

Lithium is a key component in rechargeable batteries. Picture: British Lithium

Lithium is a key component in rechargeable batteries. Picture: British Lithium

In the Commons today, Steve Double, MP for St Austell and Newquay, began by saying: "Can I thank the Prime Minister for bringing the G7 leader summit to Cornwall this summer.

"This will put Cornwall front and centre of the world stage as we emerge from the pandemic and give us a great opportunity to showcase all that Cornwall has to offer, not just as a great place to visit and our amazing food and drink sector but in the technologies of the future, in space and renewable energy."

In light of this, Mr Double continued: "I know the Prime Minister shares my ambition that the G7 will leave a lasting economic legacy for the people of Cornwall, so to that end, in light of the recent progress made in lithium extraction, would he work with me to secure a gigafactory for Cornwall so we can produce the batteries, leave that lasting economic legacy and provide the well-paid jobs for the future that Cornwall needs?"

Making reference to the region of Canada that saw a gold rush in the late 19th century, Mr Johnson responded: "I think Cornwall is the Klondike of Lithium as far as I understand the matter."

But he then fell short of agreeing to Mr Double's request fully, adding somewhat vaguely: "And I 'd be delighted to assist him in locating a gigafactory somewhere near Cornwall, but I don't want to promise too much at this stage."