Heathrow’s Populus opinion polls continue to show around a third opposed to runway

Heathrow airport has spent a lot of effort and money on trying to persuade people in government and in positions of influence that there is public backing for a 3rd runway, and that people in boroughs near Heathrow are likely to want to vote for pro- expansion local councillors.  However, the polling results do not show any significant increase in support for a 3rd runway now, than there was back in 2007. The poll that is quoted by Heathrow was done in March 2014 and shows 48% net in favour, 34% net opposed and 18% neither support nor oppose. The figures are broadly similar from polls in November 2013 or May 2013.   A Populus poll in 2007 showed 50% supported a 3rd runway and 30%  were against.  About a third of people stubbornly refuse to back expansion at Heathrow.   Heathrow knows that unless they can shift opinion in the next year, the odds against a third runway being built will lengthen…….whatever recommendation the Airports Commission comes up with in summer 2015.


Putting the Heathrow Opinion Polls into Perspective

Last week Heathrow Airport   claimed that there was more support now for a 3rd runway than when it was proposed by the last Labour Government.

It cited a recent opinion poll of more than 1,000 local residents by Populus which showed 48% are in favour of a third runway while 34% oppose. http://www.populus.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Heathrow-Borough-Poll-March-2014.pdf

The reality is different.  HACAN unearthed a Populus poll which revealed that in 2007 50% supported a 3rd runway and 30%  were against.  http://www.populus.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/download_pdf-170907-BAA-Heathrow-Future-Heathrow-Poll.pdf

 In fact, as we blogged last week, a third of people stubbornly refuse to back expansion at Heathrow.  Although some of the other figures fluctuate, the common thread in the Populus polls is the 30% or so of people who oppose expansion.

Here are the last three polls:

March 2014:  http://www.populus.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Heathrow-Borough-Poll-March-2014.pdf and

Nov 2013:  http://www.populus.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Heathrow_Poll_Nov131.pdf

May 2013:  http://www.populus.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Heathrow%20Airport%20Local%20Resident%20Research.pdf

 Heathrow Airport must be concerned that after more than a year of concerted, expensive and high-profile campaigning support for a third runway is little different than it was at the height of the protest six or seven years ago.

And, indeed, the referenda and surveys that were carried out by Hillingdon, Richmond and Hounslow show even less support for expansion.  Around 72% of residents opposed a 3rdrunway: http://www.richmond.gov.uk/100000_say_no_to_heathrow_expansion

 There has been no UKIP-style surge in support for a 3rd runway.

 Heathrow have only one year in which to change this.  The airport will be acutely aware that they lost the battle for a 3rd runway last time around.  They lost because the residents who opposed expansion in the 7 boroughs closest to the airport (over 525,000 people in total) were able to forge an effective alliance with residents further afield, environmentalists, politicians from across the political spectrum as well as some key business people and trade unions.

 Heathrow Airport will know that, unless they can shift opinion in the next year, the odds against a third runway being built will lengthen…….whatever recommendation the Airports Commission comes up with in summer 2015. 




March 2014 poll


Heathrow populus poll March 2014


November 2013 poll

http://www.populus.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Heathrow_Poll_Nov131.pdf Heathrow populus poll Nov 2013


May 3013 poll


Heathrow populus  May 2013


Populus surveys done for Heathrow show only 48% back its expansion (26% back it strongly, 23% oppose it strongly)

April 30, 2014 To quote Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli; “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.” And so it is when opinion polls are done, and the organisation that commissions the poll wants a particular result out of it. Heathrow often gets Populus to ask people in boroughs near Heathrow what they think. They usually ask similar questions each time. One asks “Taking everything you know into account, do you currently support or oppose expanding Heathrow?” Over all boroughs surveyed, 26% strongly supported this; 22% somewhat supported; 11% somewhat opposed; 23% strongly opposed. See link So 48% support, and 34% oppose, with 18% neither supporting nor opposing. The figures were broadly the same a year earlier (with 46% supporting, but 43% opposing, and 10% neither supporting nor opposing). Heathrow says this is large, and growing, support. It is difficult to interpret the figures, as Populus only publishes a small bit of its results, with no methodology, such as the script of the interviewer, tone of the questions etc. Questions need to be asked about what information is given to people by Populus before they are asked their views. Click here to view full story…