Freedom of Information Documents Reveal ‘Collusion’ between Department for Transport and BAA on Forthcoming Heathrow Expansion Consultation

They agree to put local authorities who might oppose plans on ‘risk register’

The Department for Transport (DfT) has been accused of colluding with BAA in drawing up the expansion plans for Heathrow which will form the basis of the forthcoming consultation (1). Documents obtained by Putney MP Justine Greening under the Freedom of Information legislation reveal the extent of BAA’s involvement.

Last year the Department for Transport had said that it would not involve outside bodies in drawing up the consultation document. It would restrict the involvement of organisations such as BAA to requests for factual, technical information. These new documents obtained by Justine Greening – minutes of regular and frequent meetings between the DfT and BAA – reveal that BAA has helped compile the consultation document.

The DfT discussed with BAA the ‘risk register’ it was compiling of organisations likely to oppose its plans. This included the 2M consortium of 12 local authorities.

“Jonathan Moor [a DfT civil servant] mentioned the 2M consortium of local authorities, which was against Heathrow expansion. He suggested that this should be reflected in the risk register.”

The documents also talk about “revisiting the wording” of the final consultation document in order to deal with residents’ objections.

BAA has been closely involved in planning the DfT’s consultation exhibitions.

“Jonathan Sharrock asked how the exhibitions would be handled in Harlington. [A blanked out name] explained that a BAA comms team was working closely with DfT, going out to different associations and asking them what their major concerns were, to ensure that the exhibitions ….”

“Vicky Mayo [from the DfT] suggested that BAA could usefully bring to the exhibitions materials on the details of the proposed expansion.”

The two organisations combined forces to deal with the Mayor’s London Plan which they were concerned would reflect growing opposition to Heathrow Expansion.

“Roger Chapman….said that the Mayor was known to be strengthening his opposition to Heathrow expansion. He said there was a need for GLO [Government Office for London] to develop ‘lines to take’ ahead of the Examination in Public (EIP), starting in June. GOL are meeting BAA this week and DfT on 25th April to discuss the EIP.”

The documents also make clear that the idea of relocating the M4 Spur Road and putting it in a tunnel in order to reduce pollution levels in the area was still an option (in March of this year).

“The R3-related relocation of the M4 spur unduly affected Harlington. [Name blanked out] said he already planned to redo the population work by source type. The option of putting the relocated M4 spur in a tunnel was mentioned.”

Justine Greening MP said, “I am determined to get to the bottom of the true extent of BAA’s involvement in drawing up the forthcoming consultation on a 3rd runway, a 6th terminal and mixed-mode.”

John Stewart, Chair HACAN, said, “These documents show clear evidence of collusion between the Department for Transport and BAA. BAA will now be consulted on one of the proposals it has helped to draw up! None of the other consultees will be in such a privileged position. And it beggars belief that the local authorities are being put on a ‘risk register’ because they oppose the expansion of Heathrow. This consultation process is descending into utter farce.”

ENDS

Notes for Editors:

(1). The Department for Transport is expected to embark on a 3 month consultation into its proposals for a 3rd runway, a 6th terminal and plans to end runway alternation within the next few weeks.

For further information contact:

John Stewart on 0207 737 6641; 07957385650

Justine Greening MP 0207 219 3000