Gatwick says ri­val set up fake pres­sure group

Air­port chair­man says the Back Heathrow group is no more than a cam­paign arm funded by the or­gan­i­sa­tion

Egham News - - NEWS - By Matt Strud­wick matt.strud­wick@trin­i­tymir­

GATWICK Air­port is claim­ing ri­val Heathrow has set up a fake com­mu­nity support cam­paign group to ‘scare­mon­ger’ support for its bid to build a new run­way.

Sir Roy McNulty, Gatwick’s chair­man, made the claim that Back Heathrow was a ‘cam­paign arm of Heathrow’ on Wed­nes­day, in an open let­ter to Air­ports Com­mis­sion chair­man Sir Howard Davies.

“Back Heathrow wears the mask of a com­mu­nity group when it is sim­ply a cam­paign arm of Heathrow, set up and funded by the air­port,” said Sir Roy.

“A cur­sory glance at Back Heathrow’s re­cent sur­veys of lo­cal opin­ion shows how it has been able to gen­er­ate support es­sen­tially by scare­mon­ger­ing and, for ex­am­ple, set­ting up the en­tirely false choice be­tween ex­pan­sion and clo­sure.

“Its cur­rent ques­tion­naire, sent to 750,000 house­holds, is, sim­i­larly, lead­ing with a straight choice ques­tion on whether Heathrow should grow or be­come smaller, for ex­am­ple.

“Clearly, if Gatwick ex­pands, Heathrow would re­main at least the same size as it is to­day and would con­tinue to thrive as part of a com­pet­i­tive net­work of London air­ports.”

He added: “I be­lieve that the com­mis­sion, and every­body else, should view the state­ments and out­puts from the Back Heathrow cam­paign with strong scep­ti­cism.”

Heathrow said it had an­nounced as far back as June 2013 its in­ten­tion to help fund Back Heathrow.

“Heathrow has al­ways been trans­par­ent about the fact that it helps fund Back Heathrow to pro­vide a voice for the thou­sands of lo­cal peo­ple who would like to see ex­pan­sion,” a spokesman for the air­port said.

“The cam­paign it­self has more than 50,000 sup­port­ers and we support its con­tin­ued ef­forts to give a voice to those who had pre­vi­ously not been heard in the de­bate on the air­port’s fu­ture.”

Back Heathrow cam­paign co-or­di­na­tor Rob Gray said it was sim­ply out­ra­geous for Gatwick’s chair­man to ac­cuse the res­i­dents of not be­ing real. “Gatwick has re­sorted to des­per­ate tac­tics, which sug­gests that lo­cal support for its pro­posal is min­i­mal,” he said. “The un­com­fort­able truth for it is that all in­de­pen­dent polls show the majority of lo­cal peo­ple support Heathrow ex­pan­sion.”

The Air­ports Com­mis­sion has short­listed three op­tions for ex­pand­ing ca­pac­ity: a new run­way at Gatwick or Heathrow or an ex­ten­sion of the north­ern run­way at the lat­ter.

Rose was given the white gold

beaded neck­lace as a baby.

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