Political impasse could cost north lucrative Heathrow construction contract

There are fears sites in Northern Ireland could miss out on being named as off-site construction centres for Heathrow's third runway expansion
Gareth McKeown

THE political impasse at Stormont could see Northern Ireland miss out on a slice of the new £16 billion development at Heathrow Airport.

Unite has warned that areas in the north could miss out on being named as off-site construction centres for the London's airport's third runway expansion due to the lack of a functioning local government.

Heathrow's long-list of 65 possible locations for off-site hubs, includes six local sites and Unite regional secretary Jackie Pollock said Northern Ireland must get its fair share of investment.

"It is vital that we secure one of the off-site construction hubs for Northern Ireland," he said.

"The Scottish government has already negotiated a memorandum of understanding from Heathrow guaranteeing them one of the off-site hubs. As a result they estimate 16,000 new jobs will be created creating a £200 million stimulus for the economy of Scotland.

“Northern Ireland desperately needs that level of job creation and there is a strong case to locate this work here to help redress the recent spate of industrial jobs losses and closures. Unfortunately, while Scotland has a government proactively seeking such investment – Northern Ireland is left without any representation at all due to political failure."

Earlier this month a delegation from Heathrow Airport visited sites in Belfast and Craigavon in the running to be off-site construction centres, but Mr Logan believes

that without a functioning Executive or Ministers to promote the area, the north is at a disadvantage.

“Despite this our workers are dedicated and possess the engineering and technical skills base needed to do this high-value added work. There is no reason one of these off-site construction hubs shouldn't be located here," he added.

The six local sites in the running to help deliver the new Heathrow runway are: North Foreshore in Belfast, Silverwood business park in Craigavon, Belfast International Airport, Newtownabbey's Global Point business park, the Michelin plant in Ballymena and MJM Marine's Shackleton Barracks site in Limavady.

It has been speculated that the Heathrow expansion could deliver up to 5,000 new jobs and £5 billion worth of wider economic benefits across Northern Ireland, in addition to providing more connections to the UK's only hub airport.

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