Gatwick hopes a YouGov poll of Londoners (not local people) favouring its runway over Heathrow, will help its case

Gatwick airport is hoping to persuade people that there is support for its runway.  It has commissioned (yet another) YouGov poll, in the attempt to show people want a Gatwick runway.  As there is a high level of opposition in areas near and around Gatwick, the poll had to be of Londoners – who would not get any adverse environmental impacts of a Gatwick runway themselves. The details of the poll have now been publicised, (this only happens several days after its release ….)  It was of 1,072 Londoners – details of where they were located not published, nor is the interview script.  Several London councils have been supportive of Gatwick for a long time, fearing the noise impact on their residents if there was a Heathrow runway – and knowing the opposition within their boroughs. They hope some of their residents might get jobs at Gatwick. The backing of Southwark, Wandsworth, Kingston and Croydon for Gatwick has been public for a long time.  It is hardly surprising, if Londoners are asked about aircraft noise, that they would say the negative impact on quality of life for local residents (meaning noise and pollution?) would be lower at Gatwick than at Heathrow. They also say there would be more regeneration benefits at Gatwick – but the area has minimal unemployment. Yet another example of a dubious survey, being “spun” for even more dubious reasons.


The poll is now here   but only the questions and answers.  It has no details of the script used when the interview starts. Presumably it was a phone poll ?   There are no details of where in London the people came from.   No details of whether they had done polls before.  YouGov has to publish the results of  polls within 2 days of their release, in accordance with the rules of the British Polling Council.


London politicians attack Heathrow expansion plans in favour of new runway at Gatwick

12.11.2015 (Evening Standard)



Council leaders in Wandsworth, Kingston, Southwark and Croydon issued a joint call for David Cameron to ‘get behind Gatwick’

London MPs, council leaders and transport chiefs launched attacks on Heathrow’s third runway plans today as a poll showed people in the capital would prefer Gatwick to expand.

Heathrow opponents stepped up the pressure amid signs that the Cabinet is slipping behind schedule in deciding the best location for a new runway to serve London and the South-East. Eight senior MPs said any attempt to enlarge Heathrow would lead to a “decade-long blight imposed on west London”, claiming that the expansion plan was “unravelling”.

At the same time, the leaders of Wandsworth, Kingston, Southwark and Croydon issued a joint call for David Cameron to “get behind Gatwick” or waste years in courtroom battles.

In another potential obstacle, TfL has told the London Assembly it would need an extra £15-20 billion investment in road, rail and Tube links to prevent gridlock in west London if Heathrow were to be expanded. TfL director of strategy and policy Richard De Cani said the Airports Commission had underestimated traffic demand and pollution levels. [TfL has also, in the past, said there would need to be a lot of transport improvements for Gatwick, in order that the one main road and one railway line could cope with the demand from a new runway. AW note].

Meanwhile, a YouGov poll found that Londoners [the poll was only of Londoners, who naturally would not want the negative impacts of Heathrow noise over a huge area, or air pollution closer to the airport] would prefer Gatwick rather than Heathrow to get an extra runway by 44 per cent to 33. The poll, commissioned by Gatwick, found that the West Sussex airport was seen as cheaper and less harmful in terms of noise and pollution. [Hardly surprising, as if the polls were done in areas near Gatwick, and at risk of its negative impacts, they would show huge opposition.  AW note]. 

The Airports Commission recommended in July that a third runway at Heathrow would deliver the biggest boost to the national economy. But the Cabinet committee making the decision has yet to hold a formal meeting.

The eight MPs, including Tory Bob Neill and Labour’s Steve Reed, the co-chairs of an all-party parliamentary group for the capital, said: “The case for Heathrow is fast unravelling and London is uniting behind Gatwick.”

A letter signed by Wandsworth council leader Ravi Govindia, Kingston’s Kevin Davis, Southwark’s Peter John and Croydon’s Tony Newman urged: “Why waste another decade on a failed Heathrow scheme when there’s an alternative on the table?”   [These council leaders have been Gatwick supporters for a long time – their backing for the Gatwick runway is nothing new.  They know the impacts of Heathrow noise on their boroughs already, and hope some of their residents might get Gatwick jobs.  AW note]

TfL believes the commission’s findings on nitrogen dioxide pollution is “legally flawed” because it states that Heathrow could expand providing merely that it does not create the worst pollution hotspot in London.

The YouGov poll of 1,072 Londoners found that 41 per cent backed Gatwick as the best choice for issues such as noise and air pollution, compared with 24 per cent for Heathrow. Some 38 per cent thought Gatwick would cost less, against 20 for Heathrow.

Stewart Wingate, Gatwick CEO, said: “Londoners recognise that [Gatwick] is the best choice to balance economic growth with environmental impact.”

But a Heathrow spokesman hit back. “Far from unravelling, the case to expand Heathrow is stronger than ever,” he said, adding that 26 Labour MPs from the North-East and a group of east London politicians were backing the third runway because of its economic benefits.

“The Airports Commission ended the debate earlier this year when it concluded the most detailed analysis ever undertaken into airport capacity by recommending overwhelmingly the expansion of Heathrow,” he said.



YouGov poll of Londoners finds support for Gatwick expansion

Support for a second runway at Gatwick among more than 1,000 people surveyed in the capital is ten points higher (44%) than for rival Heathrow, according to the study.

Eight out of ten (79%) agreed that air quality is important to the airport expansion debate.

Half (49%) of those polled also said that the recent Volkswagen emissions scandal had made them more concerned about air quality.

Gatwick, which commissioned the poll, also scored best on six out of seven key indicators YouGov asked – scoring almost twice as well as Heathrow in many of them.

The indicators were:

  • Negative impact on quality of life for local residents – Gatwick 41% / Heathrow 24%
  • Built at lowest cost to taxpayers – Gatwick 38% / Heathrow 20%
  • Encouraging vigorous competition – Gatwick 43% / Heathrow 22%·
  • How quickly a new runway could be delivered – Gatwick 34% / Heathrow 24%·
  • Certainty the new runway can be delivered – Gatwick 34% / Heathrow 24%
  • Regeneration benefits to local area – Gatwick 41% / Heathrow 23%
  • Economic benefits to UK – Gatwick 27% / Heathrow 38%

Two thirds (67%) of respondents said it was important that the expanded airport had strong connection to other UK airports.

Gatwick chief executive, Stewart Wingate, said: “Support for Gatwick has increased in recent months. The reason is simple. Londoners recognise that it is the best choice to balance economic growth with environmental impact. Most importantly after decades of delay it can actually happen.”

He described air quality as the “defining issue” in the airport expansion debate, as it has been twice before.

“This final decision comes down to which scheme is lawful to build and operate,” said Wingate.

“It would be unlawful to approve Heathrow expansion today with two runways as air quality breaches legal limits, so it’s very difficult to see it any better with a third.”