“BackHeathrow” (paid for by airport – not a grass roots campaign), send biased scare-mongering survey to half a million

A lobbying group – called BackHeathrow – funded by Heathrow Airport is to distribute a survey to half a million homes, to try and get some favourable views on a new Heathrow runway.They are using fear as a tactic, to get local people worried that they might lose their jobs if the airport was not allowed to expand. There is, of course, no prospect of Heathrow being closed – the BackHeathrow tactic is irresponsible and ill-advised. John McDonnell, the MP for Hayes and Harlington, bordering Heathrow to the north and  under threat from a northern runway, said it was just another front organisation funded by the airport and another cynical spurious public relations exercise. John Stewart, chairman of HACAN, said BackHeathrow claims it is a grass roots campaign but no grass roots campaign has the sort of funding to send out half a million surveys. This is astoturfing, not a real citizens’ initiative. BackHeathrow survey results must be treated with great scepticism, when/if they come out. It’s so badly worded & biased as to be valueless.  The “Have you stopped beating your wife?” type questions in the BackHeathrow survey are so loaded they’d make you laugh if they didn’t make you angry.



Mail-drop (by BackHeathrow) to spread Heathrow closure threat message to 500,000 homes

Campaign group BackHeathrow sending survey to 500,000 asking residents what they think of the threat of Heathrow Airport being closed

Aerial view of Heathrow Airport
Aerial view of Heathrow Airport

A campaign group funded by Heathrow Airport is to distribute a survey to half a million homes, including every one in Spelthorne, to gather views on runway expansion.

BackHeathrow will conduct a mail-drop to 500,000 homes in neighbouring boroughs asking people what they think of the threat of the airport being shut down.

Rob Gray, who is co-ordinating the campaign, said: “The threat of closure to Heathrow is real – the consequences are too.

“Heathrow sustains 114,000 jobs in the area and the loss of that employment would have a terrible impact on the west London economy, including the value of property and job opportunities.

“That’s why we have decided to mail surveys to half a million homes around Heathrow – to help local people understand what this issue could mean to them, and to offer them a chance to voice their opinions.”

The mail-drop has been welcomed by Spelthorne MP Kwasi Kwarteng who said the survey was a good idea.

Mr Kwarteng said: “It’s important that a voice is given to the many local residents who support Heathrow.

“The airport is at the heart of the local economy.”

But not all agree with BackHeathrow or with Mr Kwarteng.

John McDonnell is the MP for Hayes and Harlington, bordering Heathrow to the north which, like Spelthorne, is under threat from airport expansion.

He said: “This is just another front organisation funded by the airport to promote a third and fourth and possibly a fifth runway.

“If they dropped the demand for expansion we could all get behind backing Heathrow. The fact that they won’t confirms that this is just another cynical spurious public relations exercise.”

John Stewart, chairman of Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (HACAN), said: “BackHeathrow claims it is a grass roots campaign but no grass roots campaign has the sort of funding to send out half a million surveys.”

Surveys will be delivered through doors, but Spelthorne residents can have their say early by going online .







18.10.2013 (From Stop City Airport campaign)

As Heathrow Airport wages a media war for the hearts and minds of the public at large for a Third Runway, they have a huge problem to over come. It’s not noise or the environment or air pollution. It’s trust.

We do not trust what Heathrow tells us.

In it’s previous guise as BAA, the management of Heathrow saw London residents as collateral damage in their bid for aviation dominance. Instead they spent their time wining and dining Government ministers and the civil service.It lobbied. Hard.

Scandal after scandal emerged. Collusion between the DfT and BAA to fix local environmental targets. Lobbing groups like Freedom to Fly (run by Dan Hodges) blending into other lobbying groups like Flying Matters (run by Dan Hodges wife – kerching!) Invisible planes. 

Even with all this they still failed to succeed. Why? The great British public. And so the Third Runway was laid to rest.

Or so we thought.

Like zombies, vampires and Jason Vorhees, the third runway is a dead incarnation refusing to die.

The newly rebranded BAA team, now called simply Heathrow, have decided to be more community active. Time to engage with the public rather than treat them like something they stood in.

They have carried out respite trials at night joining forces with residents organisation HACAN, even though HACAN remains vehemently against a Third Runway. Heathrow want to be seen working with residents and not against them.

It wants to build trust.

Enter Back Heathrow. A stale old throw back to the original BAA Third Runway campaign using lies, statistics and scaremongering to influence public opinion and bully local MP’s and Councillors in the run up to elections.

Back Heathrow claims it is a ‘grassroots campaign’ and is supported with a huge amount of finance from Heathrow Airport but has maintained that it is an independent body.

It is a registered company Back Heathrow Ltd and made up of two directors.

(1) Mr Robert Gray who is also the Campaign Co-Ordinator has come from the Aviation Foundation established by British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, BAA and Manchester Airports Group. He is a professional lobbyist.

(2) Mr Nathan Fletcher Head of Communications Planning at BAA Heathrow.

It claims that it has been up front and made this information available from the beginning yet Nathan Flethcher and his involvement is not mentioned anywhere on the website or correspondence.

So less of a ‘grass roots campaign’ rather one thought up in a PR office. Otherwise known as ‘Astroturfing’.   [Astoturfing is described as:  the practice of masking the sponsors of a message (e.g. political, advertising, or public relations) to give the appearance of it coming from a disinterested, grassroots participant. Astroturfing is intended to give the statements the credibility of an independent entity by withholding information about the source’s financial connection. The term astroturfing is a derivation ofAstroTurf, a brand of synthetic carpeting designed to look like natural grass.]

The campaign is one of scaremongering. It claims, along with the GMB, that without a Third Runway, Heathrow will close.

There is no evidence Heathrow will decline without a 3rd runway.

Their newly launched biased survey is weighted to get that message across. Loaded with biased and subliminal messaging the survey has been widely mocked across social media and the internet. Even an MEP (Keith Taylor) has got in on the act.

Two questions below are good examples of the bias.


A survey with an predetermined answer set up to get to that result.

And goodwill that Heathrow have built up with residents in the last five years has been destroyed by a single misguided campaign. Again the spectre of old BAA hangs over the push for a runway. Resorting to old tricks and games are a show of desperation from an organisation losing the argument. And trust.

Let’s have the last word from Rob Gray himself, to show you how it’s done and how it works.





Greens slam industry ‘propaganda’ given to Heathrow residents

An MEP for the South East of England has slammed an organisation called ‘Back Heathrow’ for masquerading as a community campaign while maintaining close links to the aviation industry. [1] [2]

Keith Taylor, MEP for the South East of England, has commented after his constiuents received a new publication, also called ‘Back Heathrow’, which claims that 114,000 jobs are at risk if Heathrow shuts down. [3]

The ‘Back Heathrow’ campaign is run by Robert Gray – the founding director of lobby group ‘The Aviation Foundation’. The group was established by four of the biggest companies in the UK industry: BAA, British Airways, Manchester Airports Group and Virgin Atlantic. [4]

In a previous job Mr Gray campaigned against the Hunting Act ­which banned certain types of fox hunting. He said that the Hunting Act was “propped up by dubious campaigning”. [5]

Mr Taylor said:

“Clearly Mr Gray’s involvement in the Back Heathrow campaign makes it impossible to trust the content of the organisations publications.

Robert Gray has been a professional lobbyist for companies who stand to lose out if Heathrow was to close down. The Back Heathrow group is masquerading as a community campaign but while Mr Gray is in charge it’s hard to believe that the group is anything other than a mouthpiece for the aviation industry.”

Mr Taylor went on to criticize the ‘Back Heathrow’ group for promoting a third runway at the airport:

“It would be very interesting to see who is funding the Back Heathrow campaign. Clearly those involved aren’t overly concerned about the noise and air pollution caused by Heathrow airport, or the impacts that it’s expansion will have on climate change.

Heathrow bosses would have us believe that laying down tarmac and increasing landings is the only way to bring prosperity to the South East. They would build over even more of our precious greenbelt and with little concern for the effects this would have on local residents. ”

[1] Back Heathrow: http://www.backheathrow.org/

[2] Email from ‘Back Heathrow’ describing itself as a ‘community campaign. http://stopcityairportmasterplan.tumblr.com/post/60743945362/exclusive-heathrows-email-to-local-cllrs-and-mps

[3] Pictures of the new campaigning newspaper are available on request. http://stopcityairportmasterplan.tumblr.com/post/61576619211/back-heathrow-propaganda

[3] Information on ‘The Aviation Foundation’: http://www.publicaffairsnews.com/no_cache/home/uk-news/news-detail/newsarticle/aviation-foundation-launches-with-ex-countryside-alliance-man-at-helm/2/

[5] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/8331714/Map-accuses-hunts-of-causing-havoc.html

– See more at: http://www.keithtaylormep.org.uk/2013/09/20/greens-slam-industry-propaganda-given-to-heathrow-residents/#sthash.jt0ybRLH.dpufhttp://www.keithtaylormep.org.uk/2013/09/20/greens-slam-industry-propaganda-given-to-heathrow-residents/


Furious comment from a Conservative councillor, Cllr Dominic Gilham

Back Heathrow, Back Off More like it…

September 10th, 2013

Disgraceful scare stories coming from our noisy neighbours within the airport boundary,

Heathrow have decided to ignore the VAST majority of local people and try and highlight what they claim is a sizeable amount of residents in favour of expansion and runways over homes. I took this paragraph from their new site.


Grow, decline or close?

The future of Heathrow Airport is crucial to our community, with over 100,000 jobs depending on Heathrow. Please tell us your views about Heathrow airport and its future. What do you think should happen?


I think you should stop this blight on the people of West London, thats what I think should happen!!


So what happened to the choice of a Better not Bigger airport? Are they  seriously saying grow or die. I am sorry but what happened to stability? Many companies,shops and business just maintain their demand not expand beyond their own boundaries into the homes,schools parks and gardens of their neighbours. I do not accept their claims and as ever I am opposed to forcing anyone from Hillingdon. I am do accept we need to fell 1000 homes, 6 schools and numerous green spaced areas to allow some european businessmen the chance to transfer from one plane to another!


 ”For too long, the local residents who support Heathrow have been the silent majority in the debate on the airport’s future.”  Rob Gray, campaign director Back Heathrow 


What utter rubbish, obviously this guy hasn’t ever spent more than ten minute speaking to the people of Yiewsley and West Drayton! Silent Majority? I guess the poll results from this May weren’t clear enough for your Mr Gray 2 thirds of Hillingdon residents said NO!


Heathrow Director of Corporate Affairs, Clare Harbord  ”The threat to these jobs is now very real.”


Sorry but I have to say, the threat to Homes, communities and healthy lives is of greater concern to me than your cheap low blow scare stories.


16. In response to the demand for increased hub capacity in the UK, which of these three options would you support?


Far too mad now, to continue typing but I hope all Yiewsley,West Drayton and Hillingdon residents are clear that this Local Councillor is AGAINST expansion.