By Chris Caulfield
June 19, 2013
HEATHROW Airport will provide funding to set up a pro-expansion campaign group, it has been announced.
The operator has said it will release the funds “to provide a voice for the thousands of local people” who support Heathrow and its bid to build a third runway, which could be built through the middle of Stanwell and Stanwell Moor.
The announcement of the new group was made after residents in the surrounding areas were polled as to whether they ‘supported Heathrow’.
John Stewart, chairman of the Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (HACAN), an organisation which as the name suggests opposes expansion, said: “This poll is out of kilter with previous surveys which have shown most residents are opposed to expansion.
“But even on the poll’s own findings, it is clear that Heathrow would face significant opposition if it tried to build a third runway.
“We take it as a compliment that Heathrow Airport wants to set up a residents’ group that supports expansion. Our only piece of advice to them is to find a better name than the obscure one we are stuck with.”
The poll, conducted by Populous, focused on communities around the airport and found that more people ‘back Heathrow’ than oppose it.
More than 6,000 residents from Spelthorne and neighbouring Hounslow, Richmond, Hillingdon and Windsor were surveyed, with results showing that 60% felt generally positive towards Heathrow compared to 6% who felt outright negative.
The poll found that 66% felt the benefits of Heathrow to the community outweigh the disadvantages.
But the poll also found that the strength of feeling of those opposed to expansion was more passionate than those in support of a third or fourth runway.
In Spelthorne, 24% strongly supported expansion with 26% strongly against.
Clare Harbord, Heathrow’s director of corporate affairs, said: “This research shows that most local residents back Heathrow.
“Anti-Heathrow campaigners claim that everyone living near Heathrow is opposed to the airport, but that simply isn’t true.
“The recent report by MPs on Parliament’s transport committee lays bare what the Mayor’s plans for a new airport would do to this region: it says an estuary hub airport would require the closure of Heathrow – a course of action that would have unacceptable consequences for individuals, businesses in the vicinity of the existing airport and the local economy.
“We believe that local jobs and businesses are worth fighting for.
“It’s time to give people who agree a voice in this debate. It’s time to back Heathrow.”