A delegation from Heathrow visited County Antrim on Wednesday to assess a local bid to play a major role in the airport’s planned expansion.
The multi-billion pound project could kick off the creation of up to 5,000 local jobs.
Six sites in Northern Ireland had previously been longlisted in the hunt for Heathrow’s pioneering Logistics Hubs.
The sites are in the running to be called on to help build Heathrow’s proposed third runway.
Back in March, it was announced that Michelin was gifting 10 acres of its Woodside Road site to Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.
This land was intended by council to be used to bolster the area’s bid to host a Heathrow Logistics Hub.
The site is among those earmarked as a potential base for a logistics hub, as well as Global Point and Belfast International Airport in neighbouring Antrim & Newtownabbey borough.
Outgoing Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Paul Reid, said: “We believe Northern Ireland, and County Antrim in particular, represents an ideal location for one of Heathrow’s Logistics Hubs, acting as a global gateway, and look forward to welcoming Heathrow’s representatives to our area.
“A Logistics Hub in County Antrim would bring huge benefits to people and businesses, creating jobs and supply chain opportunities and leaving a skills legacy for future generations.
“This remarkable project would build on our proud heritage and carve out a legacy for the Michelin site and our citizens.
“It would deliver jobs, investment and create a platform for excellence.”
The Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Paul Michael, said: “Antrim and Newtownabbey Council is delighted to have two sites shortlisted in the bid to secure one of the four Heathrow Logistics Hubs.
“This initiative represents a unique opportunity to help to deliver an efficient and affordable expansion of Heathrow whilst leaving behind a lasting economic legacy for Northern Ireland.
“Our offer is built upon the excellent transport network that connects us with Heathrow by road, rail, sea and air, and the outstanding supply chain of local companies than can support the expansion.
“Our two shortlisted sites at Global Point and Belfast International Airport offer excellent choice and flexibility to Heathrow. Global Point is a strategically located green field site with full planning approval for 27 buildings and associated infrastructure whilst Belfast International Airport is the strategic gateway into the region with excellent connectivity to support economic competitiveness and outline Planning Permission for a mixed-use development.
“Working with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and other key stakeholders we have developed a compelling offer for Heathrow which has the potential for significant job creation, skills development, business growth and a solid partnership into the future.”
As well as the site visits, Heathrow will host a business summit in Belfast, which will allow SMEs here to help deliver the expansion work.
Lord Deighton, chairman at Heathrow Airport, said: “Heathrow expansion is a once in a generation opportunity to transform the UK construction industry, build for the future and deliver a lasting skills legacy for future generations. All of this comes at a pivotal time for our country, as it prepares itself to leave the EU and where we need to build for our future in both travel and trade.
“An expanded Heathrow is for all of Britain and the logistics hubs ensure that expansion spreads the huge potential of its £5bn in economic benefits across Northern Ireland, whilst minimising the impact on the airport’s local communities.”
The innovative Hubs would be used to pre-assemble components of the expanded airport before transporting them to Heathrow. They are intended to ensure a legacy of construction excellence across the UK.
There are currently a total of 65 sites across the UK under consideration to be one of four selected locations.
The planned Heathrow expansion is the first major infrastructure project in the UK to pioneer the large-scale use of logistics hubs for the proposed third runway, which would lead to jobs created in every corner of the UK.