A delegation from Heathrow has visited Co Armagh as hopes rise that parts for a multi-billion pound airport extension could be made here – giving a huge boost to the local economy and creating jobs.
A so-called ‘logistics hub’ for Heathrow Airport’s £16 billion expansion plans could be sited at the Silverwood Business Park.
Armagh I reported in September that Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council was interested in reaping the benefits of a UK-wide search by the airport to work on the expansion.
It is Europe’s largest privately funded infrastructure project – which includes controversial plans for a third runway – and Heathrow is currently looking to secure four bases to work on the project.
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council once again presented the borough as an outstanding strategic location for significant inward investment.
This time the spotlight was shining on Silverwood Business Park – one of six longlisted sites in Northern Ireland still in the running to be one of the final four logistics hubs for the Heathrow expansion.
Council, who proposed the site for the project, welcomed a delegation from Heathrow Airport to Silverwood Business Park as part of their nationwide tour of 65 sites being considered as an ‘off-site’ construction centre for the new runway.
Lord Mayor Gareth Wilson said council were delighted to welcome the delegates from Heathrow Airport to the borough.
“Their visit gave us the opportunity to further profile Silverwood Business Park as an excellent site for a logistics hub,” he explained.
“The central location is ideal for access to a high calibre, skilled workforce to enable production of first-rate quality materials, as well as a strong transport infrastructure offering ease of export to clients across the globe.
“Council, along with Silverwood Property Developments Ltd and Envision Ltd, gave a presentation to the delegation demonstrating the strengths of the location, the suitability for the project and the advantages of the infrastructure, including the recent £2.4 million investment boost from the UK Government to help drive up broadband speeds and increase digital connectivity across the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough.”
Heathrow will be the first major infrastructure project in the UK to pioneer the large-scale use of logistics hubs – aiming to build as much of the project off-site as possible.
The pre-assembling components built off-site will be transported in consolidated loads to Heathrow just as they are needed.
Cllr Joe Nelson, who chairs the economic development and regeneration committee, said the local business community is “thriving and fast growing”.
“We have a lot to offer in relation to advanced manufacturing and we are extremely proud to have been longlisted for this pioneering project,” he added.
“We are committed to developing the economy, attracting inward investment and promoting our potential.
“It is through projects like this that helps raise our area’s profile on an international stage.”
The Heathrow expansion is set to create up to 5,000 new jobs and generate up to £5 billion of economic benefits across Northern Ireland. The logistics hubs will play an instrumental part in the project and will help to build strong connections between Northern Ireland and the UK’s only hub airport.
Local SMEs across the borough will also have the opportunity to get involved in this project.
Heathrow will be hosting a Business Summit in Belfast for the first time on Wednesday, June 20.
It will offer small businesses across the country the prospect to become part of the many opportunities that the Heathrow expansion will bring.
On the day, SMEs will have the chance to meet with Heathrow’s biggest suppliers during ‘speed-dating’ appointments. The event is being held in partnership with the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and more information on the Heathrow Business Summit is available by phoning 028 9024 4113 or visiting www.heathrowbusinesssummit.co.uk/Visit.