Planned M5 Gravity Campus factory delays rail link

A business park cannot be connected to the national rail network until a new factory can be built and occupied.

The Gravity Enterprise Zone in Somerset is on a site between the villages of Puriton and Woolavington, off the M5 near Bridgwater.

Plans to build an electric vehicle battery factory or "gigafactory" are yet to materialise.

The site is advertised as a place where "companies make a difference socially, economically and environmentally".

Somerset Council has been hoping to deliver the site and have spent £10.3m on a new access road linking the site to the A39.

It also created a local development order (LDO) in December 2021 to speed up the process of delivering the new campus.

However, efforts to build a new £50m rail link to the site are at a standstill until a potential occupier agrees to taking on the site.

'No confirmation'

In July, news broke that Tata Motors, owners of Jaguar Land Rover, was hoping to build a £4bn electric vehicle battery plant on the 616-acre "smart campus".

Simon Jack, the BBC's Business Editor wrote in May that "Tata is also considering a site in Spain and government officials say they are not aware of any final decision".

A spokesperson for Somerset Council said: "There has been no confirmation of a gigafactory site, yet."

The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) estimated in October 2021 that it will cost £50m to "restore the rail link to the site for passenger and freight services".

The trackbed for the original Royal Ordnance rail link remains in place, with space for a single track running over the M5 north of junction 23.

In July it was reported that the leader of Somerset County Council, Bill Revans, was concerned over the sums of money that would need to be borrowed for the Gravity Campus.

He said: "There will be caution from some of my colleagues that we are being asked to borrow a considerable amount of money for investment in one particular area."

Follow BBC West on Facebook, X and Instagram. Send your story ideas to: