Belfast Telegraph

Summit probes potential dividend for Northern Ireland from third Heathrow runway

Heathrow’s proposed third runway has provoked fierce debate (Steve Parsons/PA)
Heathrow’s proposed third runway has provoked fierce debate (Steve Parsons/PA)
Connections: Arlene Foster
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

Businesses from Northern Ireland have gathered at a summit in Belfast to hear more about procurement opportunities with major contractors involved in the expansion of Heathrow Airport.

The Heathrow Business Summit, hosted by the NI Chamber of Commerce, also featured the sites around Northern Ireland which are in the running to become the location of logistics hubs to help with the construction of the airport's third runway.

DUP leader Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy were at the event.

Heathrow contractors such as logistics firm Vanderlande, design and engineering firm Atkins, consultancy and construction specialist Mace Group and airport logistics firm Amalga were represented at the summit and held meetings with local SMEs.

Conleth McConville, a director at Topglass Contracts Ltd in Toomebridge and its new parent company MJM, said the firm would be able to supply glass products to Mace as it carries out contract work at Heathrow.

Contracts manager Hugh McCann said Topglass had already carried out work at Dublin and Luton Airports.

And Mr McConville said he was hopeful that MJM will be successful in its bid to host a logistics hub for Heathrow at its Shackleton Barracks site on former Ministry of Defence land at Ballykelly.

Five other sites in Northern Ireland are in the running to host a logistics hub. They are: North Foreshore, Silverwood Business Park, Global Point Business Park, the former Michelin site in Ballymena and Belfast International Airport.

Ann McGregor, chief executive of the NI Chamber of Commerce, said: "Heathrow Airport's expansion and the construction of a third runway offers wide ranging potential for businesses in Northern Ireland to become involved in the largest infrastructure project to take place in the UK in recent years at a cost of £14bn.

"NI Chamber therefore welcomes the benefits that Heathrow's unique logistics hub programme may offer our corporate members - larger businesses and local councils."

Mrs Foster said the success of our exports and tourism markets depended on connections through Heathrow.

"It has been predicted that the expansion will have a significant impact of up to 5,000 new jobs and £5bn of economic growth in Northern Ireland alone," the DUP leader added.

Belfast Telegraph