Gatwick airport bosses have claimed that Heathrow concocted a fake community group to support an extra runway.
The assertion was made by Gatwick chairman Sir Roy McNulty in an open letter to Sir Howard Davies, chair of the Airports Commission due to decide on expansion, Gatwick’s chairman, Sir Roy McNulty, wrote
“Back Heathrow wears the mask of a community group when they are simply a campaign arm of Heathrow, set up and funded by the airport,” he wrote.
“(Its) recent surveys of local opinion show how they have been able to generate support essentially by scaremongering and, for example, setting up the entirely false choice between expansion and closure.
“Their 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.”
McNulty added that 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”.
“I believe that the Commission, and everybody else, should view the statements and outputs from the Back Heathrow campaign with strong scepticism.”
In response Heathrow said it had always been open about its support of the Back Heathrow campaign, adding it was helping to “provide a voice for the thousands of local people who would like to see expansion”.
“The campaign itself has over 50,000 members 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.”
A final decision on airport expansion will be made after next year’s general election, but the commission has already said its analysis shows a second runway at Gatwick would offer an economic boost ranging between £42bn and £127bn, while expansion at Heathrow could deliver wider benefits of as much as £214bn.