Heathrow expansion promises job opportunities for engineers

The Heathrow expansion looks set to take off, as the cabinet backed the plans for the construction of the third runway. While the plans still need to be voted by MPs in the House of Commons, the recent backing of government ministers suggests that the expansion plans will begin to move forward. 

Assuming there are no hiccups when MPs vote in the next month, the £14 billion runway could be completed by 2026. 

Benefits of the expansion

While the new North West runway is contentious- those against the expansion talk about cost and pollution impacts- the government is keen on the long-term economic benefits of extending the UK’s busiest airport. 

The government predicts that the planned expansion will generate £70 billion in economic benefits by 2050, but those planning the expansion think the benefits could be as high as £187 billion in the same period. 

Economic growth figures are projected from the increase in commercial flights, as well as the benefits it will give to international trade, as the proposal will allow the cargo capacity from Heathrow to double. The expansion will give a projected capacity of 130 million passengers per year, compared to the 76 million the airport can currently cater for. The increased competition between airlines could see fares reduced by up to 30%, according to EasyJet.

Impact on jobs

The expansion is set to create up to an estimated 180,000 jobs across the UK, with as many as 100,000 expected to be created outside of London and the South East region, with much of the construction planned to take place off-site. The plans involve the creation of four regional hubs to recruit the engineers with the right skill sets to deliver the new runway. 

James Goodall, Buildings Recruitment Specialist at Matchtech, explains some of the opportunities that engineers will have on the project:

“Opportunities within the aviation engineering industry are set to take off. This project will present a fantastic opportunity for architects, civil, structural and MEP engineers. Project managers, site managers and commercial staff will also have job opportunities in this historic project that will drive economic growth.

“As with all new major projects, BIM is a massive focus. Those with experience of working with BIM will most definitely be sought-after to ensure a collaborative approach to the design and delivery process. Experienced engineering project managers and commercial managers are going to be crucial to keep everything on track and ensure that spending is kept in line.”

Tunnelling the M25

The proposed position of the runway on the North West side of Heathrow intersects with the M25 at the junction with the M4. As a stretch of road that hosts up to 250,000 vehicles a day, the Heathrow expansion plans have proposed introducing a tunnel along the stretch of the M25 allowing the runway to be built above it. 

As a major part of London’s infrastructure network, ensuring the project to tunnel the M25 runs smoothly is critical, as Sam Forster, Highways Recruitment Specialist at Matchtech, explains:

“There will be plenty of pre-planning considerations that take place prior to any project on the M25 begins, to assess how the project will impact the congestion on the road. Highways engineers with Smart Motorway experience and intelligent transport system skills will be called upon in the early stages of the planning.

“We are also expecting to see a huge demand for a variety of technical engineers when it comes to the delivery of the project. Geotechnical engineers, tunnelling specialists, highways and civil design engineers are all likely to play a huge part in tunnelling the M25.”  


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