Heathrow cargo slots and warehousing

A visionary plan for warehousing near Heathrow is being approved and it could change the way that freight, cargo and warehousing are handled in the UK’s biggest airport.

Interestingly, the warehousing space isn’t the main reason that a vast underground construction is likely to begin in 2019, rather it’s the vast reserve of minerals to be found in the selected area.

The site which has just been given planning permission runs parallel to the A312 (The Parkway) and the A4 (Bath Road) This is significant because Bath Road is already a vital road link to Heathrow, much used by cargo lorries.

Gravel quarry to underground warehousing within 12 months

The site in Hounslow would usually be exploited as an open cast mine to remove approximately 3 million tonnes of gravel, but with the help of Carmody Groarke architects, the work will be undertaken without damaging the surface landscape, and with each section of the extraction being progressively converted into concrete basements which will provide 180,000 square metres of below-ground space. While the extraction is largely seen as a site for Heathrow warehousing, it’s also expected to contain underground sports facilities. Sports England has said that this plan meets with their approval. This means that within a year the first concrete cells could be available.

Timetable for new Heathrow Airport warehousing

The extraction work is planned to start in 2019. The first parkland area will be open to the public in 2020 and the initial subterranean warehousing space will be operational in 2022. The entire extraction and construction process is expected to continue until 2034.

Environmental benefits of underground warehousing for Heathrow

According to the plan, the margins of each subterranean cell will be planted in local soil to provide tree-lined avenues that hark back to the landscape of London’s oldest royal parks. These earth berms are also designed to limit noise pollution from both aircraft and freight traffic. The final benefit of the scheme is that under the 2011 London Plan, local authorities have to source building materials as close to the construction works as possible.

If Heathrow’s controversial third runway is ever given the green light, using materials from the gravel quarry would make the construction a world leader in sustainable construction, as well as limiting the need for increased road transport of building materials. Hot on the heels of the approval is the announcement that hotel group Arora has submitted new plans for a third runway at Heathrow, cutting the environmental impact of the currently planned expansion by nearly 25% which will not only reduce the amount of groundwork required but also a substantial saving in compulsory purchase costs.

Trends if you’re looking for a warehouse to rent

2017 records revealed that nearly twice as many new leasing deals were signed in 2017 as in 2016, showing that the demand for industrial warehousing space continues to be strong. Investor demand for warehouse space leasing remains intense and Aviva alone has purchased a 50% interest in a one billion pound development fund owning buildings near Heathrow. The warehousing sector is considered to be one of the strongest performing assets in UK real estate.

Fighting for freight cargoes

Airport-friendly warehousing is likely to become even more vital as a trend recognised by the European Shippers’ Council intensifies. Airport capacity is limited and competition for slots has intensified between cargo operators and budget airlines.

Freight operators have to make the argument for the economic rewards of carrying cargo as opposed to the value of leisure flights that service populations demanding regular (and cheap) flights that have little or no belly-hold cargo capacity.

Constraints to airport capacity

Many airports worldwide are approaching maximum capacity but both passenger and cargo growth is continuing exponentially. One result of airport capacity limits has been that some cargo only operators have lost their slots at major airports, meaning that they will seek out cargo transport opportunities at secondary airports. Primary airports struggling with capacity constraints include Amsterdam, Brussels, Chicago, Frankfurt, Hong Kong and – of course – Heathrow. Mexico City and Shanghai have already begun the process of relocating freight operations to secondary locations and IATA claims that around 177 airports around the world have reached capacity, a hundred of them in Europe. Projections show that passenger levels are due to double by 2040, meaning that allocated flight slots will become less a commercial imperative and more of a political one.

The constraints of air freight

Slot allocation is based on a simple figure. If an airline uses 80% of its allocated slots in a given season, it has rights to the same slots for the following season. However, if it uses less than 80%, the slots are automatically lost. While for passenger airlines this is simple, they just take off without missing passengers, for freight flights any delays or missing cargo can stop the flight taking off at all. This is because cargo flights are subject to much more complex customs inspections, safety and security measures and loading/unloading constraints.

Multi-stop freight flights

A further problem for cargo flights is that they tend to be multi-drop, so any delay in their schedule can mean that they have a knock-on slot loss for subsequent stops. This is a particular concern when freight slots are relocated to secondary airports such as Frankfurt, Chicago Midway, Luton and Liverpool which may lack the expertise and supply chain know-how necessary to manage a full freight business along with the warehousing and logistic support necessary. Secondary airports tend to be further away from major distribution centres, requiring more road transport to get goods to central warehousing and distribution facilities.

New approaches to urban logistics

Some of the more interesting features of the new Heathrow warehousing plan are the ways that it offers new resources for already challenged urban logistics. Multi-storey warehousing is already becoming commonplace but the underground approach has several major benefits – for example, climate controlled warehousing will be easier to manage in underground facilities that are not affected by weather the way above-ground ones are.

A new park for London

West London will be the recipient of the biggest new parkland in West London for over a century when the work has been completed. The above ground sections of the extraction will include both grass football pitches and all-weather terrains to give year-round leisure and fitness opportunities to the local population, creating new service industry opportunities for the wider community.

We specialise in sourcing professional warehouse storage across the UK. We work closely with reliable 3pl logistics companies in the warehouse sector, to improve business efficiency. If you require our assistance in locating the best warehousing facilities for your products, simply contact us today.


Comments Closed

Comments are closed.

Copyright © Which Warehouse Blog