A bid has been made to locate one of four so-called ‘logistics hubs’ for Heathrow Airport’s £16 billion expansion plans in Co Armagh.
It is Europe’s largest privately funded infrastructure project – which includes controversial plans for a third runway – and the airport is hoping to find four bases to work on the project.
The four successful bids will be involved in assembling components for the expansion.
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Haye has said the method allows jobs to be evenly spread across all parts of the UK.
The airport invited expressions of interest back in April.
And it has emerged this week that 121 bids have gone forward.
One of those is from the ABC council – backed by both Belfast City Council and Lisburn and Castlereagh Council.
They have worked on a “collaborative expression of interest” to bring one of these logistics hubs to Northern Ireland.
And the favoured site which they have identified and bid for is at the Silverwood Business Park at Lurgan.
For suppliers, the strategically placed hubs will reduce transport costs which in turn will open up new opportunities to small and medium sized firms, bringing jobs and investment.
Confirmation of the bid – submitted before the July deadline – is revealed in a paper to council.
And while Silverwood is the main option, it adds: “There are several potential sites in public sector ownership across the three participating partner council areas that have the potential to deliver a logistics hub for the Heathrow expansion.
“To this end a number of additional expressions of interest for additional sites were also included as part of this collaborative council bid.
“This collaborative approach shows how council will maximise opportunities by working with other local authorities to showcase the skills industry and potential of the wider region.”
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 hubs will work by pre-assembling components off-site before transporting them in consolidated loads to Heathrow just as they are needed.
This method will boost the project’s efficiency and cut emissions by transporting components to site in fewer lorries.
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “Expanding Heathrow is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to really boost growth across Britain – and not just with more capacity at the nation’s hub airport, but from building it.
“Over 100 communities across Britain have put themselves forward to host one of our pioneering logistics hubs and we couldn’t be more impressed by the applicants.
“Together we’ll build an expanded Heathrow – boosting growth outside London, leaving a world-class construction legacy for the UK and delivering expansion faster, cheaper and with less impact on our local communities.”
Suitable locations will demonstrate the logistics hub will have a positive economic impact in their area as well as having good connectivity, access to a relevant supply chain, strong local skills, support in their region and adequate facilities.
All applications will be considered by Heathrow and a list of potential sites is expected to be announced later this year.