Third Heathrow runway 'will give Northern Ireland £5bn boost and bring 5,000 jobs'
The go-ahead to a third runway at Heathrow Airport could be the catalyst for £5bn of economic growth and 5,000 new jobs in Northern Ireland, it's been claimed.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling yesterday announced in Parliament that the controversial third runway had been approved at a meeting of ministers.
MPs will now be given a vote on the scheme by early next month.
Around six sites in Northern Ireland are in the running to become logistics hubs for the runway as part of moves to spread the economic benefits of the expansion around the UK.
A team from Heathrow will today tour three potential hub sites in Co Antrim.
Ann McGregor, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, welcomed the Transport Secretary's announcement.
Expansion of the facility is much needed, especially as Heathrow is a key facilitator for trade, which will become increasingly important post-Brexit.
She said: "It is already the UK's largest port by value for global markets outside the EU, handling over 30% of the UK's export goods.
"The airport is currently operating at 98% runway flight capacity, whilst competitor hub airports across Europe are continuing to grow. This means growth in flights to emerging cargo markets is constrained.
"A new runway will add up to 40 new long haul routes, allowing the UK to connect with new, rapidly growing markets across the world and double cargo capacity which will create enhanced opportunities for businesses of all sizes. Exporting is a proven route to business growth whatever the sector."
And North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds said the decision to give the runway the go-ahead was a "game changer" for the economy here.
He said: "Our connectivity to global business and inward tourism markets is dependent on the high frequency, economic and easy to use connections to international flights through a hub airport such as Heathrow.
"As one of Europe's largest projects, the benefits of the expansion will be huge for Northern Ireland, with up to 5,000 new jobs and £5bn of economic growth predicted in Northern Ireland alone."
He added: "Later this month, Arlene Foster will address the Heathrow Business Summit, which is being held in Northern Ireland for the first time.
"This will provide a unique opportunity for our SMEs to connect and trade with the airport's major suppliers. We are pleased that six sites across Northern Ireland are in the running to become a logistics hub for the expansion project."