“Construction work at the Scout Motors site is not ending; this is a pause in activity while permitting moves forward, including the period for public comment," Richland County Economic Development Director Jeff Ruble and Secretary of Commerce Harry Lightsey said in a joint statement. "As we look forward to the opportunities Scout Motors’ tremendous investment will bring, we value the people who call Blythewood home and want to make sure they stay informed about the project’s progress – especially as construction efforts will ebb and flow until completion.”
The agencies did not confirm specifically what triggered the pause. There was also no indication of how long the pause might last.
Back in March, Scout Motors--a Virginia-based company backed by Volkswagen Group--announced they would build a massive new plant near Blythewood to make electric trucks and SUVs. The $2 billion investment will be located off of I-77 and span roughly 1,600 acres. The company said the plant is expected to eventually create 4,000 jobs. The South Carolina legislature then approved a $1.3 billion incentive package for the company.
But some residents and public interest groups have raised concerns about the projects potential impacts on the environment. In July, the Congaree Riverkeeper and the Southern Environmental Law Center voiced their concerns over the potential negative impact the Scout Motors plant in a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The groups believe the plant will cause the destruction of wetlands, more flooding, and issues with tributaries in the area.
The Army Corps is the agency that would provide a wetlands permit.
Additionally, The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources says they visited the site on July 11th. They recommended to the Army Corps that the permit approval be delayed until there was additional information and for their recommendations to be addressed.
The Army Corps said there was no timetable for making a decision on the permit.
Scout Motors has a goal to start producing vehicles by 2026. There is no word on whether the pause could affect that timeline. In late August, Scout announced it had begun its first phase of hiring including several key leadership positions within the company.