Logistics hubs clamour for slice of Heathrow business

More than 120 sites across Britain have responded to Heathrow Airport Limited's (HAL) invitation for interest in becoming one of four logistics hubs for the airport's third runway expansion project. The selected sites will be used to pioneer off-site manufacturing to reduce overall construction costs, as well as serving as materials and equipment handling centres.

According to HAL, the hubs are a key part of its plans for promoting SMEs and ensuring every corner of Britain benefits from the decentralising of the supply chain for the circa £16 billion expansion project. The airport is aiming to build as much of the project off-site as possible. The hubs will work by assembling construction components before transporting them in consolidated loads to Heathrow as they are needed. The airport is hoping to emulate the findings of a study by WPI Economics earlier this year, which said integration of off-site construction can reduce overall project costs by as much as 25% and speed up delivery by 30%. 

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.”

Heathrow is expecting to announce a shortlist of potential sites later this year. These will be the locations that can best demonstrate they will have a positive economic impact in their area through a local supply chain and skills. Through a Memorandum of Understanding with the Scottish Government, Heathrow has agreed that one logistics hub will be based in Scotland.