Logistics hub plan can still take off after Heathrow expansion backed in Westminster

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 26 Jun 2018

The safe passage of Heathrow Airport’s expansion strategy through a key vote in the House of Commons has been cheered in Scunthorpe – the potential home of a logistics hub and provider of vital construction materials.

British Steel urged MPs representing the communities it operates from to back the National Policy Statement, which passed by a majority of nearly 300 at 10.15pm last night. 

It paves the way for planning and the additional runway, in a £14 billion investment to meet capacity requirements, with potential for regional slots. 

The Brigg Road site is on a long list of potential support sites, with bosses also eyeing up the estimated requirement of 370,000 tonnes of steel, with deputy chief executive Paul Martin confident Scunthorpe could supply half of that. 

Following the vote, he said: "The expansion of Heathrow represents an incredible opportunity for this country’s steel industry so we welcome the result.

“Large quantities of our steel can already be found in Heathrow’s Terminal Five and we’ve an excellent track record of supplying steel into major infrastructure projects like this. With Heathrow having already pledged to use the public procurement rules for steel, we hope to be a key supplier to the expansion project.

British Steel deputy chief executive Paul Martin, left, is pictured with Heathrow procurement director Andy Haynes during his visit to British Steel Scunthorpe last month.

“We’d also like to play an even greater role in this project by hosting a Heathrow logistics hub at our Scunthorpe headquarters, a facility that could help bring a £12 billion economic boost to the Yorkshire and Humber region.

“We’ve been placed on a long-list of potential locations for a hub and recently hosted a visit by Heathrow which gave us the opportunity to showcase our superb infrastructure, excellent transport connections and unique development opportunities.

“Our bid – which has the support of key business and political leaders from throughout this region - would also provide major tangible benefits to the expansion, create new jobs and leave a lasting skills legacy.”

Last month the resurgent Scunthorpe works hosted a visit last month from Andrew Haynes, the world-leading airport’s procurement director, who described North Lincolnshire’s bid as a “very compelling offer”. 

But while the South Bank united behind the 700-job opportunity across the political divide, the North Bank’s red camp was split.

Karl Turner, Shadow Transport Minister, was on his feet as the debate reached a climax, arguing it had not met the four tests set out by Labour, and voted against, as did Emma Hardy (Hull West and Hessle), but Diana Johnson (Hull North) joined Scunthorpe’s Nic Dakin and Grimsby’s Melanie Onn and backed it, having been given a free vote by leader Jeremy Corbyn. 

The Humber’s Conservatives, understood to be ‘under the whip’ all followed the party line, with Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes), Andrew Percy (Brigg and Goole), David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden), Graham Stuart (Beverley and Holderness) and Greg Knight (East Yorkshire), all among the ayes. 

Mr Dakin said has urged more to be done to address environmental concerns, but said: "The commitment to use UK steel should benefit not just the UK, but our own area too. Had we voted against, it would still probably have gone ahead, but the contract would have gone abroad and wouldn't have benefited our economy."

His support was championed by Community, the union earlier in the day. Underlining how it was vital to improve infrastructure and support workers, a spokesperson said: "We're delighted so many Labour MPs are standing by workers and pledging to support Heathrow expansion. The expansion will give a major boost to the UK economy and create thousands of jobs."

Mr Haynes visit to Scunthorpe was made on the same day he took in sites in South Yorkshire. Despite three specific sites within the Doncaster area, on the Humber’s doorstep, former Labour leader Ed Miliband (Doncaster North) voted against, with Caroline Flint (Don Valley) in favour. Under parliamentary rules, Rosie Winterton (Doncaster Central), a former Minister of State for Regional Economic Development and Minister for Yorkshire and the Humber, is not allowed to vote as she has a position of deputy speaker, even though she was not in the chair for the debate. 

In the end it was passed by 415 votes to 119 – a majority 296.

Ms Onn said: "A third runway at Heathrow could bring many positives – high quality jobs and training opportunities through apprenticeships, knock on benefits for our construction industry, better transport links and greater opportunities not just for passengers jets but also freight – to name but a few. 

“However, it is frustrating that yet again we are talking about advances for transport in London and the South East whilst the rest of us are stuck with over-priced, poor services. There are concerns about the environmental impact of airport expansion and those questions must be answered. I supported expansion, to show the world that Britain is open for business and ready for the future, but I listened carefully to the arguments made in the debate.”

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general, said: “Fifty years in the making, this is a truly historic decision that will open the doors to a new era in the UK’s global trading relationships.

“Parliament’s approval to build the new runway at Heathrow will lift prosperity across the country, and has long been seen as vital for firms, especially exporters.

“The race for global competitiveness is well underway and the UK must now be quick off the mark – work on the new runway should start as soon as possible. The prize is tens of thousands of jobs and billions of pounds of growth for the British economy.

“As the UK forges a new path to trade, we must also make the best use of existing runways in regions across the country. A truly global Britain will need increased connections and routes from the whole of the UK, now and for the future.”

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