12th December – On Saturday The Independent ran a piece with the headline “London airports’ PR blitz is subverting democracy” after Keith co-ordinated a letter from a coalition of environmentalists and senior MPs seeking reassurance that the Davies Commission* hasn’t been “overly influenced” by major pro-expansion PR campaigns by both Heathrow and Gatwick Airport.
A media buying agency told The Independent that the cost of both campaigns was likely to have exceeded £7m. *The Davies Commission is the Government approved commission who are consulting on airport expansion plans.
The full Independent piece can be read here: http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/london-airports-pr-blitz-is-subverting-democracy-9922081.html
And here’s the letter in full:
Dear Sir Howard Davies,
We’re writing to you as we’re afraid your commission may have become overly influenced by pro-expansion advertising campaigns by both Heathrow Airport and Gatwick Airport over the last year.
‘Back Heathrow’, a Heathrow lobby group who were masquerading as a community organisation were outed by the Sunday Times last weekend when it was revealed they received the majority of their funding from Heathrow Airport. The ‘Gatwick Obviously’ campaign is another similar example.
Between them, both Heathrow and Gatwick have managed to dominate advertising space not just across the South East but also across other parts of the country. You need look no further than Westminster Underground station over the last few months to see the unfair influence their campaigns are having. Advertising on the side of taxis is another example. We fear in effect that they have subverted democracy by buying major influence over the commission and our elected politicians.
We are also concerned that this advertising blitz has had the result of watering down considerations made on the impacts of airport expansion on climate change.
The Airports Commission has said that at least one new runway should be built in the South East. However, if you add a new runway into the mix then constraints will have to be imposed elsewhere, something which isn’t current Government policy. Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) analysis has found that if you added a new runway to the South East, even if you then constrained all regional airports to today’s level of flying you’d still overshoot the emissions limit by 2050.
We have not seen any indications, from the CCC, the Government, or the Airports Commission, on which airports should be constrained in order to meet climate objectives while building a new runway.
It would seem that your decision to recommend building another runway has been taken independently of any future analysis of regional airport impacts, and we remain very concerned, that building a new runway anywhere in the South East would have unacceptable consequences for our environment.
Not only on climate change but also on other issues, it looks like the Commission may have been overly influenced by recent pro-expansion lobbying campaigns by both Heathrow and Gatwick and we call for reassurances that has not been the case.
Keith Taylor, MEP for South East England
John Sauven, Executive Director Greenpeace
Jane Thomas, Senior Campaigner Friends of the Earth
James MacColl, Head of Campaigns, Campaign for Better Transport
John Stewart, Chair, HACAN
Tim Johnson, Director, Aviation Environment Federation (AEF)
Brendon Sewill, Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC)
Salley Pavey, Chair Communities Against Gatwick Noise Emissions (CAGNE)
John McDonnell MP
Zac Goldsmith MP
Caroline Lucas MP
Jean Lambert MEP for London
Sarah Clayton, Airport Watch
Charlie Smith, Plane Stupid
Ian Westmoreland, Transition Heathrow