It’s not often that a Norfolk Chamber event is close enough for me to walk to, let alone take in some local history on the way. One of the advantages of being based off Prince of Wales road is that the football ground, where the Chamber sometimes holds events, is about a ten minute walk away. I allowed twenty, so had the chance to visit one of my favorite features of Norwich – the Medieval boom towers which protected Norwich with a chain across the river Wensum. Much of Norwich’s fourteenth century wall was bombed in the war and some of it was knocked down to build the inner ring road, but there are still parts of it left standing around the city.
This morning’s Chamber breakfast at Carrow Road was an intimate round table affair with John Holland-Kaye, the CEO of Heathrow airport. The topic of discussion was the expansion of the airport, including a new runway and specifically how Norfolk businesses can become part of the supply chain for the £14bn, 10 to 15 year plan.
Heathrow has been running at capacity for a long time and one of the advantages of expansion could be the reintroduction of the direct flight from Norwich to Heathrow. Schiphol in the Netherlands is currently the only major hub destination from Norwich, a route operated by KLM.
As a privately owned and funded airport, Heathrow is free from many of the procurement rules of government projects and therefore free to choose its suppliers without constraint. Heathrow is keen to use UK suppliers and build as much of the new airport off site as possible. A project this size will result in many new high skilled jobs and, if created in this region, would be a significant contribution to the local economy. This would inevitably mean the improvement of transport infrastructure in Norfolk. Contributing to the expansion of Heathrow is a win win for the region.
As part of the expansion a new three kilometer long runway, new terminal buildings and a new luggage system will be built. The M25 to the North West of the airport will be moved, something Heathrow has done before, but is no easy task. One of the biggest opportunities for Norfolk to contribute is in the tech which is increasingly used to drive the airport.
The ball is now in our court and we need to pull together as a multiskilled region and demonstrate to Heathrow why they should be investing in their supply chain in Norfolk. In the meantime you can register for Heathrow procurement here: https://procurement.heathrow.com/