£100m refurbishment at Belfast International to include solar farm

October 17, 2023 12:42 PM AEDT | By PAMEDIA
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Work has begun on a £100m investment at Belfast International Airport that will see a new security building and a solar farm built on site.

The multi-million pound five-year investment plan will aim to increase the airport’s operational efficiency, and improve passenger experience and environmental performance.

Phase one of the programme is currently under way, with the construction of a new security building adjacent to the current terminal building.

The site of the new £25 million security building at Belfast International Airport that is aiming to be operational by June 2024 (Claudia Savage/PA)

The £25 million security facility will transform the passenger security experience by implementing newly required X-ray screening equipment, meaning passengers will no longer have to remove liquids or electronics from their luggage.

The new security area is scheduled to be operational by June 2024.

Nicolas Notebaert, chief executive of VINCI Concessions and president of VINCI Airports, said: “VINCI airport decided to make the biggest investment ever here in Belfast International, to move upwards the passenger experience.”

An artist’s impression of the exterior of Belfast International Airport after a £100 million refurbishment over five years (Open Strategic Communications/PA)

Mr Notebaert said Northern Ireland’s customs and travel position made it a promising investment and added they were in discussions with airlines on the possibility of flights from Belfast to the US.

“We think this position is promising, because it’s an island, we need connectivity, we are well positioned to grow towards Europe, UK, but also in the future we have long haul to the US connectivities,” he said.

“We want Belfast International to be leading the way to combine the necessity of connectivity, mobility for the island, for Northern Ireland and the fact that we can limit our carbon emissions.

“And that’s the challenge, and that’s why after Covid it was the right time to start physical investment here.”

Graham Keddie, managing director of BIA, Nicolas Notebaert, chief executive of VINCI Concessions, and Emmanuel Menanteau, area director for the US, Northern and Eastern Europe and South-East Asia of VINCI Airports (Open Strategic Communications/PA)

The multi-million investment plan will also revamp existing facilities, improve the airside departure area with additional departure gates and extra seating.

There will also be new catering and retail outlets.

Traffic at Belfast International was already above 4.5 million passengers in the first nine months of 2023, and is returning to pre-Covid levels.

The work will create an estimated 400 jobs with local construction firms during the build.

VINCI Airports has also announced the launch of a 26 MWp solar farm on the airport site which will generate 22.4 GWh of electricity and save 12,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.

This initiative aims to reach 50% emission reductions by 2030 and net zero by 2050.

A sign at Belfast International Airport showing passengers what the new building will look like after the £100m development (Claudia Savage/PA)

Mr Notebaert said the electricity produced would also be used to power homes and businesses in Northern Ireland.

“We have already four megawatt of solar panels here in Belfast International, and we’ll invest 25 megawatt to inject into the Northern Irish grid, so the airport will produce renewable electricity for Northern Ireland,” he said.

Graham Keddie, managing director at Belfast International Airport, said the solar farm was an exciting project for the airport.

“We will also be with one of our sister companies, SunMind, setting up a solar farm on the airport site, which is huge news,” he said.

“I think it’s one of the largest solar farms in Northern Ireland. It will work really, really well.

“For us, it’s an exciting green project … because of how we’re treating the project overall, in terms of our capital investment, it’s also quite green financed, because we’re reusing and repurposing as much as we can.

“Our new building would be BREAMM compliant (sustainable building certification) at very good levels.

“So there’s a lot in terms of the environmental growth, but the major one is the solar farm – 25 megawatts is a lot of power.”

Graham Keddie at Belfast International Airport (Claudia Savage/PA)

Mr Keddie said that as well as the new security building and shopping plans, the development would also include increased capacity for passport and customs checks.

“The first thing you’ll see, we start in several weeks, is expanding our immigration arrivals,” he said.

“We’ll be adding extra pods in there for Border Force, so that project will be finished by the end of March. So obviously that summer (it) will be the first thing people see.

“We will be rolling into the food and beverage and our duty free, and we’re also looking at upgrading our gates, where people board the aircraft.”

As well as the 400 construction jobs, Mr Keddie said permanent jobs within the airport would grow as the airport increases its passenger capacity.

“I think the standard is for every million passengers it’s an extra 750 jobs,” he said.

“We already have almost 5,000 people working on the site, the second largest site employer in Northern Ireland. So for us, those jobs will continue to grow as we continue to grow.”

The world’s largest private airport operator, VINCI Airports has more than 70 airports in 13 countries.


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