Latest Back Heathrow newsletter described as ” A work of art: the art of distortion”

Back Heathrow has produced its latest news-sheet and questionnaire, which has been delivered to thousands of homes. In a blog, Chair of HACAN, John Stewart, writes about how it is “A work of art. The art of not quite telling it as it is.” Its front page has a heading saying “Hillingdon Council want Thousands of Houses on Airport”. That clearly implies that Hillingdon want Heathrow closed, but that is far from what they have actually said.  Its leader, Ray Puddiford, has merely said that, if an Estuary Airport opened and Heathrow had to close, there would be the opportunity for the land to be used for housing and new businesses. The newsletter claims thousands of jobs are at risk if Heathrow were to close. It conveniently overlooks another key finding of the report that the impact of a second runway at Gatwick would have a ‘negligible’ impact on employment at Heathrow. Heathrow is not going to close. The newsletter also quote “residents” – but only highly selected ones. The status of “Back Heathrow” was debated at length, and questioned, at the latest Heathrow Consultative Committee on 26th  March.



“A work of art: the art of distortion”

It’s got ‘em talking.  And fuming.  Back Heathrow’s latest news-sheet and questionnaire.  I didn’t get one dropped through my door but many of our supporters did and they sent me copies.

The newsletter is a work of art.  The art of not quite telling it as it is.  Take the front page “Hillingdon Council want Thousands of Houses on Airport”.  What message does that convey to you?  The clear implication is that Hillingdon wants the airport to shut.

Heathrow Hub front page April 2014

(sorry about poor quality of scanned image).

Hillingdon have never said that.  It leader, Ray Puddiford, has merely said that, if an Estuary Airport opened and Heathrow had to close, there would be the opportunity for the land to be used for housing and new businesses.  See link to article with his statement  Back Heathrow turns that into “Hillingdon Council Leader Ray Puddiford: Ungrateful – Shutting down Heathrow represents a ‘remarkable opportunity’.”

 The sleight of hand goes on.  It quotes from the report commissioned by three London boroughs which indicates that thousands of jobs are at risk if Heathrow were to close.  It conveniently overlooks another key finding of the report that the impact of a second runway at Gatwick would have a ‘negligible’ impact on employment at Heathrow.

 And then there are “local residents” who are quoted.  Steve Ostrowski may live in Hillingdon but what we are not told is that he also works at the airport.

And then there is Gary Dixon who says he’s “lived near the airport for years.”  Local Hillingdon people tell me his area is not impacted by planes.

Not forgetting Shaun Brimacombe from Harlingon who asks “If noise does affect them then why did they choose to live next to a major international airport?”  Back Heathrow’s bosom buddies at Heathrow Airport know full well that there are people distraught by aircraft noise living 20 miles from the airport.  They didn’t “choose to live next to a major international airport.”  They don’t get a quote.

Although we don’t share it, HACAN recognizes there is an argument to be made for the expansion of Heathrow Airport but this news-sheet does nothing to advance it.

Back Heathrow newsheet Page  4


You can contact Back Heathrow at Premier House, 50-52 Cross Lances Rd, TW3 2AAor by email or via their website:

 Thinking of filling in the survey? 

Don’t risk it!  You could be quoted out of context in their next news-sheet.  Better to say nothing.  Return an empty envelope.  It’s Freepost! 





Hillingdon Leader unveils vision with 2 scenarios of future Heathrow without the airport

Date added: April 1, 2014

The Leader of Hillingdon Council has set out his vision for the redevelopment of the Heathrow site should the government decide that a new hub airport ought to be built elsewhere in the south east. There has been a lot of scare mongering promoted by Heathrow, and its lobbying campaign, “Back Heathrow” to cause concern that jobs in the Heathrow area would be lost if a 3rd runway was not allowed. On the same day that Boris set out his own 4 scenarios for the area, if Heathrow closed, Hillingdon now sets out its 2 possible scenarios, in its “Heathrow Park: A Better Future for Heathrow.” These are: (1). A smaller West London Airport similar in scale to City Airport; with “Heathrow Park” delivering 31,000 homes for an estimated 67,000 people, and including those at the airport, around 72,000 jobs. (2). If Heathrow Airport closed completely Hillingdon anticipate the creation of “Heathrow Park” with up to 45,000 homes (30% affordable) for nearly 100,000 people, with over 66,000 jobs and a wide range of education, health, public open space and community facilities. In the 2nd scenario, For both scenarios, the principle settlement of Heathrow Gardens and the surrounding ‘urban villages’ will be centred on existing tube and rail networks to maximise connectivity.      Click here to view full story…




This is the section relating to the Back Heathrow campaign, from the Heathrow Consultative Committee meeting minutes of 26.3.2014:

[Rob Gray is from the Back Heathrow campaign.

Rob Gibson (LAANC); Iain Hope  (LCCI);

Cllr. David Linnette  ( LB Richmond on Thames)  ]


1.         A presentation was made by Rob Gray, Campaign Director of ‘Back Heathrow’.

It is a community campaign launched six months ago with funding from Heathrow Airport to give a voice to the thousands of residents in the local communities who support Heathrow and depend on the future of the airport.

A map was (circulated) showing the postcode areas where 20,000 supporters lived who had registered to support the campaign.

‘Back Heathrow’ was a group of residents, businesses and organisations that had joined to defend the jobs that rely on Heathrow and to campaign for its secure future.

It gave a voice to the thousands of West London residents who were in favour of a successful, international hub airport at Heathrow.

It was acknowledged that there were differences in opinion, but they wanted to redress the balance to ensure that not just anti-Heathrow or anti-Heathrow expansion voices were heard.

Rob Gray said that the perception that it was a big airport versus all residents was,

in his opinion, wrong.   It was not thought that anyone could represent all residents under the Heathrow flightpath, because everybody had a different opinion about the airport. ‘Back Heathrow’ also wanted to ensure that Heathrow acted as a good neighbour in West London.  Growth was supported at the airport, as they wanted to protect the 114,000 local jobs on site and the ¼ million jobs in the wider area that depend on a flourishing Heathrow. It was believed that Heathrow must grow as the alternative is the decline, or worse, with the Mayor of London’s proposed scheme to close the airport. The status quo is no longer an option.


After the Government created the Airports Commission to find a solution to the UK’s             aviation dilemma, it was realised that supporters of Heathrow needed to be heard.

Polls regularly showed that the vast majority of residents felt the benefits of Heathrow outweigh any disadvantages.

The ‘Back Heathrow’ campaign was set up to give these people voices.

The group would campaign vigorously against the Mayor of London and others who want to see the hub airport closed and redeveloped as housing.  They were confused

at the London Borough Hillingdon’s attitude towards Heathrow, which the Council described in is own local economic assessment as follows:-

‘Hillingdon is an impressive borough, the second largest in London with great assets as home to Heathrow Airport and as gateway to London and the rest of the world.

Hillingdon also has a much higher average job density than London and the UK.

Heathrow was the world’s busiest international airport and the largest single employee site in the UK.  Hillingdon has a strong local economy and potential. Heathrow Airport provides considerable benefits for the local economy’.

Continued growth at Heathrow Airport has proved to be one of the key economic drivers for Hillingdon, for London and the rest of the UK economy’.

Opponents state they were not opposed to Heathrow, but to Heathrow expansion.

‘Back Heathrow’ had stated ‘that they would not let jobs and prosperity for local communities bleed out from the wound caused by political inactivity’.

Speaking out for those who value Heathrow, out of the top 300 companies, 200 had headquarters within 25 miles of the airport. There were also small-medium sized

family businesses who provide services e.g. freight, catering, hotels and transport companies.  There were thousands of jobs in the local community from corner shops

to shopping centres, restaurants and other leisure facilities that rely on wealth created by Heathrow jobs.

Without Heathrow as a dynamic hub airport providing links to the world for business and leisure travellers alike, those whose jobs rely on the airport would not have as much money in their pockets to spend and the local economy would suffer.

Heathrow was a massive success story and many local residents were really proud and many had moved into the area because of the airport.  There were opportunities for             local people if Heathrow grows, but without growth it would decline.

Since its launch six months ago, more than 20,000 residents living in communities around Heathrow had supported the campaign.  In addition to the large cross-section of the public, contact had been made by chambers, trade organisations and businesses.

Heathrow was the only hub airport in the UK and one of only 6 that served 50 or more long-haul routes.

Gatwick Airport had refused to agree to build a second runway if Heathrow built a third runway, and the fact that major airline alliances do not wish to go to Gatwick is an inconvenient truth for many.

Any airport expansion would be difficult and require major political decisions.

Opposition to growth at Heathrow was acknowledged.

However, ‘Back Heathrow’ wished to see a successful, international hub airport             flourishing in the UK.



Iain Hope stated that the London Chamber of Commerce believed that expansion in the South-East must proceed, as the broader London area was desperately short of runway capacity.

Every airport in the London area was a member of the LCCI, but they did not show favouritism towards Heathrow. However, there are certain strong pressures on the LCCI, not only to support other regulatory airports, but also Heathrow as a hub airport.

The LCCI had carried out various surveys, from which it was very clear that two-thirds of the Chief Executives of small-medium companies who were members  lived within the area South-West of Heathrow.  This was not without problems, because the smooth public transport links needed were not available to Heathrow.

This was a discussion much heard and would continue to be fought for.

There were no illusions that, in terms of a hub airport, there was no alternative to Heathrow.  The LCCI would continue to back this for the business of this country and to safeguard the future for successive generations, without ignoring the environmental issues.

Noise contours had reduced and by individual aircraft types there had been real progress made by the airline industry, although more still needed to be done.

It was good that HACAN and other organisations pressed for this to continue.



Cllr. Linnette asked if the 20,000+ supporters of ‘Back Heathrow’ included those    who worked directly at Heathrow.

If the referendum was looked at for both Hillingdon and Richmond together,  80% of those who responded were very concerned about expansion and noise.

There were two sides to the debate.

Cllr. Linettte invited Rob Gray to speak to the LB Richmond residents on the campaign.          which he accepted.

Rob Gray confirmed that some of the supporters worked at the airport or had done so previously, whilst others had no link at all.  More people were regularly joining the campaign and welcomed the support.

It was agreed that there were two sides to the debate, but ‘Back Heathrow’ wanted to re-balance this.

It was interesting to note there was a juxtaposition with this borough as there was a significant number of residents who were against expansion of the airport and noise, but yet, Richmond was in the Top 10 UK boroughs in terms of frequent flyers.

In 12 months, residents had taken 316,542 flights from Heathrow.



Virginia Godfrey  (HACAN) referred to the slogan of ‘Back Heathrow’ as being a ‘grass root    community campaign’.  However, the true definition of this was not apt as the term  implies that the ‘creation of the movement and the group supporting it are natural and spontaneous, highlighting the differences between this and a movement that is             orchestrated by traditional power structures.  A campaign where action and support  is home-grown by individuals – something that originates from other people’.

It was obvious that ‘Back Heathrow’ did not fit in with this description.


It would more appropriate to drop the aspect of ‘grass root community campaign’ and call it merely the ‘Back Heathrow’ campaign.  The wording should be more transparent.

Rob Gray replied that he did not wish to do this. ‘Back Heathrow’ was in the public domain initially supported by the airport, but non-profit making.  He believed it was a ‘grass roots campaign’ involving residents who were also achieving on their own in this endeavour with poster and leaflet distribution and writing to local politicians.



Cllr. Nelson clarified that it was not the LB Hillingdon residents and workers who  live in the area who wanted to see the closure of Heathrow, but the leadership of Hillingdon Council who did not wish the airport to remain open.



Rob Gibson asked Rob Gray how the ‘Back Heathrow’ campaign was developed and   policy steered.  Whether it was his responsibility or that of a Board of Directors, and if the organisation was a registered charity. Also, their view on night flights.

Rob Gray responded that ‘Back Heathrow’ was a stand-alone non-profit making organisation. When it was set up, Heathrow Airport allocated funds to start the campaign. Support had also been received from businesses and unions and residents had also donated.

In terms of setting the policy, this was set by ‘Back Heathrow’ to defend the jobs at Heathrow and to secure a bright future for the airport.

There were two Directors. Nathan Fletcher who works at Heathrow Airport was             appointed to the Board with financial responsibility of the funding, but had no executive decision-making powers. ‘Back Heathrow’ ran their own campaign working with colleagues and volunteers to decide what is best for the organisation and also             talked to the airport and anyone who wished to support the campaign.

Rob Gray said that in terms of night flights, he would not subscribe to 24/7 flights  nor see an increase in night flights.  He was aware that early morning flights could be an issue for some residents.



Cllr. Rough stated that improvements had been made in respect of aircraft noise.

Schools and houses were quieter than years ago.  It was necessary to go forward as a country for the benefit of the majority with a business case for aviation expansion.



Cllr. Beer stated that the ‘Back Heathrow’ campaign was designed to scare people who were not properly informed.  Heathrow would not close if a third runway was not approved by the Government.  It would survive and thrive, but needed to accept the fact that it was not the only airport in the country  The aviation industry worked on the basis of alliances and competed with each other.

The existing major alliances would continue at Heathrow, whilst other alliances could move elsewhere and expand as their expertise allowed.

Heathrow cannot expand as there was already inadequate housing facilities, with a congested road and rail network.  It would not be possible to provide all the necessary facilities that such a large escalation in business activity would create. It was not realistic and this fact must be faced.

Rob Gray reiterated that if Heathrow did not expand, it would decline as it was at full capacity.


.Heathrow Airport Consultative Committee – Minutes and Agendas