There is a YouGov poll of Londoners in the Evening Standard asking about Heathrow expansion. Slightly more people oppose the 3rd runway than support it, but it is hardly overwhelmingly: 43% opposed compared to 35%. Unsurprisingly, people in West London are more hostile towards the runway, 50% to 37%. Also, like nuclear power, is it one of those rare issues where there is a really stark gender divide – 45% of men support a third runway, but only 26% of women do.

Questioned on the issues surrounding the expansion, 58% of people think that expansion would be good for jobs and good for the economy, but 58% of people also believe that it would cause unacceptable levels of noise. On the wider question of principle, 39% of people agree what “Given the dangers of climate change we should not be expanding air travel at all”, 47% of people disagree.

Note that someone on Guido’s blog posted some figures claiming to be voting intention figures from this poll. I can confirm that they are total nonsense (for the record, the sample size and dates the person gave were also rubbish. My guess is that it was entirely made up).

19 Responses to “London divided over Heathrow”

  1. I’m torn on this one. Personally I don’t think that the third runway should go ahead, and the Thames Estuary airport would be a better idea. I think it’s an either/or situation though and something needed doing so I’m not opposed to the expansion.

    However, I am very concerned about the way in which it was bulldozed through parliament, excuse the pun, and future implications. If parliament does not need to vote on whether to expand an airport, which will destroy the village of Sipson and cause a massive increase in noise pollution in the area, what is to stop the PM demolishing the town I live in because BAA want to see a new airport?

  2. Onto the polls, I’m quite surprised actually. I thought there would have been more opposition than that, but barely 1 in 3 people supporting it is hardly a ringing endorsement either.

  3. My explanation for these results would be that a lot of people don’t really want a third runway but, as the recession bears down on us, also don’t want to object to a project that will create jobs.

    @ MarkM – there’s absolutely nothing to stop government making such a decision, should your town be considered a suitable and economically viable site. There is literally no land status whatsoever in this country that government cannot override if it wishes. That includes even SSIs and sites designated as internationally important.

  4. Among my friends and colleagues I have been suprised in recent months at varying degrees of ‘Climate change’ scepticism. Even some more left-leaning pals seem to have become non believers.

    It’s obviously not a very scientific assesment but I wonder if the tide has turned amongst the general public.

    Maybe the masses aren’t as concerned about Global warming as much as the politicians. In which case perhaps the government are playing a clever game in allowing the runway go ahead.

    They may be seen as more ‘in touch’ than the Tories/ Libs/Greens.

    I believe this to be the case so I don’t expect any significant effect on future polls due to this issue.

  5. In that case, if the government thought my town was economically viable and suitable, I would hope that they would at least have a commons vote.

    My issue here is that the MP for Heathrow’s constituency has not been able to represent the democratic rights of his constituents. If he is outvoted, then so be it. It surely cannot be correct for a PM who claims to be guided by a moral compass not to insist upon a vote on such an important issue.

  6. I’m with the ‘don’t knows’ on this one – like many I’m really not sure. The ‘greenies’ are talking nonsense as always but there isn’t really a strong enough economic case for expansion given the real environmental damage it will cause (I mean noise, traffic, destruction of communities not piffle abour CO2).

    Britain needs a second hub airport – and Manchester is really the only sensible option so long as the money is invested in high speed rail links or shuttle air travel.

  7. The Government “case” stinks of collusion with BAA/BA, suspect numbers,slanted arguments, impossible environmental targets, vested interests, political posturing,and complete disregard for the poor sods who live under the flightpaths.

    The Rail Hub was chucked in as a last minute sop to trump the Cons & has no costing or funding ideas attached.

    I wonder if they really believe it will ever be built-even if they are still in power?

    If you are flying over it or through it -it’s a good idea.

    If you live next to it-it’s ruining your life & health.

  8. Simon Cooke, would love to hear your justification for saying the ‘greenies’ are talking nonsense. Which part, climate change, uncontrolled expansion of air travel (no one is saying no flights)?

    Who are the ‘greenies’ by the way? Is that just your word for people who have realised that the environment is crucial to human survival and happiness and that an eco-crunch is just around the corner? I seem to remember a few ‘greenies’ predicting the economic crisis too…

  9. We hear a lot about aircraft producing a huge percentage of the carbon dioxide output by 2050. Has anyone factored in that there probably won’t be any fuel to power them by then?

  10. I am a “Climate change sceptic” (no need to go into why her) but I am opposed to the third runway. Wh?
    1. It will create very few long term jobs. The 60,000 quote are only temporary and woudl be created by spending the money digging a hole and filling it in. The 6,000 permanent estimate massively over-estimates the number of passengers spending time and money at the airport and in the UK.
    2. Whilst I am a climate change sceptic it seems immoral to deliberate damage the climate through unnnecessary polution. So why do we not improve our continental rail link and internal rail network which would create more long term jobs through productivity improvements?

    I cant help but think that this is all about politics and nothing about benefiting the country.

  11. I’m generally in favour – Heathrow’s my local airport, so more flights are a good thing. Although it desperately needs more rail links, in addition to a new runway.

    I’m afraid to say my sympathy with most of the residents is limited – it’s not like they didn’t know the airport was there when they bought the houses, so it’s a little late now to be complaining about noise pollution, surely?

    CharlieJ, I’m curious as to why improved rail transport will lead to productivity increases, but air transport will not?

    As for CO2 – flying (as a whole) emits relatively little CO2. Build some nuclear power stations. Give government funding to hydrogen generation, CO2 sequestration, etc. This might have an effect. Limiting the number of flights? Not so much.

    As for the poll, it’s interesting that this is so gender-biased; I wonder if future surveys will show this as well? Has anyone any theories as to why the nuclear power question is so influenced by gender?

  12. The results are not particularly surprising. It is a survey of just Londoners, and it is London that has the strongest effects of the benefits of the third runway while only West London faces any additional deficits. I would expect a survey of the whole country to give a result closer to the West London one.

  13. Actually the more I think about this, the more surprised I am that 39% of the population think that air travel should not be expanded at all…. that is nearly half the population supporting a decision that until recently would have been dismissed as radical or unsupportable.

  14. I suspect that there’s not much support among people outside London in spending taxpayers’ money in London.

    After all the money spent on bank bailouts, with likely more to come soon, plus such things as the London Olympics many candidates from other parties will claim that Labour concentrates to much on London and not on the relevant local area.

  15. Oddly enough I think there is a fair bit of support for runway three up here in Inverness as we lost our direct link a year or so back.

    The prospect of renewed flights to the UK’s main hub with all the difficult environmental issues being elsewhere appeals to a lot of people, although I am not sure about people being keen to pay for it.


  16. Just as background for the younger amongst you, the Thames estury airport option was being seriously debated in the early 1970’s and earlier for all I know. Stanstead was built as the alternative.

    BAA both as a public body and as a public company has consistently constrained development of Gatwick and Stanstead to promote Heathrow.

    Now we have the prospect of more effective competition from the other London airports being run Independantly of BAA

    In addition the investment in the west coast mainline, despite the teething difficulties will surely reduce demand on the Manchester shuttle. 90 minutes to central london from Crewe means that the the door to (central london) door time to central london from up here is half the time oof taking the shuttle.

    The really strange thing however is how much more expensive (for standard tickets) the train is than flying. There is clearly something very peculiar about the way the negative externalities of rail/air is priced.

    Get the price and the time right, and sane passangers will take the train.

    Free up the capacity from domestic flights through the provision of viable alternatives, and there is plenty of capacity for those international flights already.

    It is all about choices, mainly the political one of Gordan Brown wanting to demonstrate seperation from the “do nothing conservatives”

  17. at the next election is pritty clear that some seats will turn conservative and some will turn red, but if voters are as angery now as they seam this could spread to the rest or more parts of london meaning that more labour seats could go than exspected even on a modest swing to conservatives of say 5%.

  18. It’s interesting that 58% think it would be good for jobs and the economy, but still only 35% support it. That suggests the ‘good for the economy’ line isn’t working.

    Heathrow is a pretty poor airport that needs major revamping which is verging on impossible. Perhaps we should follow our own example in Hong Kong and build a state of the art airport elsewhere and move things over when it’s completed.

  19. If Heathrow is a shambles now how can it take more passengers?