Pro-expansion group snubs funds request
Back Heathrow said ‘it would not be fair to reveal amount’
THE pro-third runway campaign group Back Heathrow has refused to reveal how much money it receives from Heathrow Airport after it published figures showing Hillingdon Council had spent £150,000 on its campaign since 2015.
Back Heathrow released figures in December which revealed Hillingdon Council had spent £154,219 on campaigning against the airport’s expansion between January 2015 and August 2016.
The money spent by the council included £50,000 to fund anti-expansion group HACAN (Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise) and £45,800 for Stop Heathrow Expansion.
Back Heathrow slammed the council for using taxpayers’ money but has now declined to reveal how much money it received from the airport.
A spokesman for Back Heathrow said: “We are very grateful for the support we have received from Heathrow and also from individual residents and local businesses.
“It would not be fair to publish the amounts given by those who have chosen to help our campaign since our launch in 2013.”
The Hillingdon Council figures, obtained by Back Heathrow using a Freedom of Information request, also showed that the council spent £602,860 on lobbying against Heathrow expansion between January and December 2014.
Hillingdon Council has launched action to begin the judicial review procedure in an attempt to overturn the government’s backing of the Heathrow expansion, which was revealed in October 2016.
Back Heathrow has once again criticised Hillingdon Council for its use of the public’s money, and says it has not spent taxpayers’ money itself.
A spokesman from the group said: “Unlike Hillingdon Council and its unnecessary legal challenge against Heathrow, we have not spent a single penny of taxpayers’ money and our funding has only come from people and organisations that share our aims.
“Thousands of 2007 local residents have had no choice but to finance the council’s absurdly expensive anti-expansion campaign, even if they disagree with it.”
Heathrow Airport has declined to reveal how much money it contributes to Back Heathrow.
Back Heathrow was initially launched through funding from the airport but says it now has more than 100,000 supporters.
Campaign group Stop Heathrow Expansion has now criticised Back Heathrow for failing to make its funding public.
Coordinator for Stop Heathrow Expansion, Robert Barnstone said: “Back Heathrow is an astroturf organisation – pretending to be a grassroots campaign group when, in fact, it is bankrolled by Heathrow Airport’s coffers.
“Given Heathrow Airport are embarking on a PR charm offensive with local communities and politicians alike, why wouldn’t they want to be as open and honest as possible with the amount of money they’re spending?
“What have they got to hide?”
Hillingdon Council has defended its campaigning, saying it is representing the views of residents.
A statement from the council said: “Hillingdon residents have repeatedly voiced their opposition to any expansion at Heathrow, and our job is to represent their views and challenge this decision by the government to back a third runway.
“Residents are already breathing illegal levels of air pollution, and further expansion would exacerbate this along with worsening aircraft noise, pressure on public transport and a myriad of other problems it would bring.
“The government has gone back on its promise that Heathrow would not be expanded, no ifs no buts, and we have been left with no choice but to fight this in the courts.”