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.
The reality is different. HACAN unearthed a Populus poll which revealed that in 2007 50% supported a 3rd runway and 30% against 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:
Nov 2013: http://www.populus.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Heathrow_Poll_Nov131.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 3rd runway: 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 because the one 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.