London’s Heathrow yesterday revealed 18 sites around the UK shortlisted in its epic search for four "logistics hubs", intended to facilitate offsite manufacturing and just-in-time delivery of materials and components for an expected £14bn expansion of the world’s seventh busiest airport.Â
Heathrow conceived the hubs idea to push construction offsite and keep the movement of freight and workers to a minimum in congested southern England.
It also wants to spread the economic benefit of what it calls "Britain’s largest infrastructure project" around the country.
It said the approach would "revolutionise" the way Britain builds major infrastructure.
On the shortlist are a diverse range of businesses and sites, including the UK’s biggest contractor Balfour Beatty at an industrial estate at Tamworth in the West Midlands, Tata Steel UK at its works in Deeside, North Wales, and engineer Babcock at its Rosyth Dockyard in Scotland.
Northern Ireland construction firm Graham is proposing a former Michelin tire factory in Ballymena, while Tarmac is pitching its Thrislington quarry in Country Durham. Associated British Ports has thrown its Port of Cardiff, South Wales, into the ring as well.
Heathrow Hubs Shortlist (Table)
Heathrow was swamped with 121 such bids when it opened the competition in 2017. It whittled those down to a longlist of 65, and arrived at the shortlist after touring all sites in the summer of 2018.
In the autumn of this year the 18 shortlisted sites will pitch to the airport’s bosses to become one of the four centres. Winners will be announced in early 2020, ahead of work starting (pending political challenges) in 2021.
Business Minister Lord Henley said: "Spreading the social and economic benefits of major infrastructure development across the UK is to be applauded as an example of the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy in action, aimed at delivering high skilled jobs and an advanced economy."
Heathrow’s controversial expansion plans, approved by the UK Parliament in June 2018 but still the subject of multifaceted opposition, include a new 3.5km runway, which will be the first new runway in the southeast of England since the Second World War.
Terminal expansions, hotel and leisure facilities and extensive transport linkages are also planned.
Top image: Heathrow, Terminal 5 (Heathrow Airports Ltd)