THE North-East could be home to Tesla's European Gigafactory after regional leaders urge Elon Musk to bring the manufacturing site to Teesside, saying work could start as early as February. 

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and Hartlepool Council leader Shane Moore have urged billionaire entrepreneur and founder of Tesla Motors to look again at building the state-of-the-art electric car in Teesside after the company was forced to delay construction of a new factory in Germany.

In a letter to Elon Musk, Mr Houchen and Cllr Moore said that construction of the Gigafactory could start as soon as February 2021 and that the region offers ‘hundreds of acres of identified ideal developable land, with the can-do attitude in political leadership necessary to ensure delivery of major projects'.

Last year the California-based auto manufacturer undertook a search across Europe for a suitable site for its new car plant, along with the world's largest battery factory. After scouring sites, a final shortlist of two locations, Grünheide in Germany and Hartlepool, was drawn up.

The move comes after the electric carmaker was ordered for a second time to stop site preparation in Germany after a successful court injunction by environmentalists.

Tesla has been clearing forest near Berlin, for its first European car and battery plant but opponents argued this will endanger the habitats of lizards and snakes.

A court in Frankfurt ordered forest clearing to be halted, pending further examinations that habitats of sand lizards and smooth snakes, both of which are protected species, are being destroyed.

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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.

“So, if Tesla does not want to miss out as other high-end car manufactures move into electric car space, I would urge the company to look again at Teesside for the plant.

“And if Mr Musk and the Board at Tesla needs reassuring at how fast we can do things here, I would highlight the fact we were able to secure planning for 4.5million sq ft of manufacturing space – the largest planning application in the north of England - in just four months without a single objection.”

Mr Moore said: “I am delighted Mayor Houchen is joining me in urging Tesla Motors to re-consider the location of its huge new Gigafactory and to opt for Hartlepool instead.

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

“Such a huge and important development would have a truly transformational effect on Hartlepool and surrounding areas in terms of the new jobs it would create and also the wider benefits that would be generated for the regional economy.”

“Hartlepool stands ready to roll up our sleeves and start building”.

The letter comes as global construction company ISG has been appointed to lead construction of the UK’s first battery gigaplant, which is expected to create 8,000 jobs in the region.

BritishVolt has said £2.6bn will be invested in the development and work on the site of a former coal-fired power station in Blyth, Northumberland, is planned to commence next summer.