Gatwick Obviously

e-newsletter No.72

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Gatwick, the 2nd runway and trust

"Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half."
John Wanamaker

Well, for Gatwick it was definitely the half of their £40m that produced misleading ads, seriously getting their sums wrong on the numbers affected by airport expansion. This, in turn calling into question all their maths on the costs for a 2nd runway.

In our last newsletter I asked you to write to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, detailing why Gatwick really couldn't be trusted with the Her Majesty's government's backing for another strip of Tarmac.

Your response was extraordinary and I am still catching up with the deluge of carefully crafted messages I was copied in to; without exception they made the issues extremely clear.

Thank you.

Half of them may have been filtered out before they reached the PM or Cabinet, but I don't mind which half. We only needed one to go home, after all.

Below is the letter I have written to the PM and Cabinet (sent individually, by name, to each of them) on the same theme.

The media are circling us here at GON this week and all expect the announcement on expansion very soon indeed.


Martin Barraud
Gatwick Obviously Not

From: Martin Barraud
Subject: From the Chair of Gatwick Obviously Not

Dear Prime Minister

I declare an interest.

Are you really going to trust such a critical project to a company that has been found guilty of using misleading advertising about numbers affected (to an extraordinary extent); that infamously denied that flight path changes have happened; that has been accused of "failing scandalously" to be "transparent about the financial evaluation of its project" by a former Minister; that sits on the defence in a Judicial Review that has passed all the hurdles to reach the Final Hearing; that prefers to max out its night quota by discounting charges, rather than let its neighbours sleep; that proposes using extra capacity in a way that creates minimum respite; that pays little or zero UK Corporation Tax (but can still find £40m for its misleading advertising); and that appears to have less support than Donald Trump?

Gatwick Obviously Not started just over 2 years ago, actually to fight heinous flight path changes imposed without consultation.
Once we realised what we were dealing with, we quickly broadened our remit to include the expansion question.

You've heard all the arguments about infrastructure, economics and hubs from the senior and highly respected campaign organisation, GACC. We do not need to rehearse them here, and Gatwick is paper thin on all of those as you know.

Our message here is about trust.

Gatwick? Really?


Martin Barraud

In summary:

- Gatwick was party in 2013 to dramatic changes to flight paths, but then denied anything had changed.

- Gatwick is an Interested Party for the defence, in a Judicial Review brought under my name, now destined for the full, Substantive Hearing and which will set precedent, having been reserved for the Court of Appeal for its final judgement for that reason. Where others talk of legal action, we took it.

- Gatwick was found guilty in 2015 of "misleading" advertising by the ASA in its central campaign theme concerning numbers affected.

- Gatwick so infuriated one of your own number that he said in the House in 2014:
"I consider that Gatwick Airport Ltd has failed - and failed scandalously - to be open and transparent about the financial evaluation of its project…"

- Gatwick's own actions forced Kent CC, among many other elected bodies, to completely change their view on trusting Gatwick with the 2nd runway.

- Gatwick recently submitted plans to set night flight landing charges at a discount to proposed day charges for 2017/18 for around 99% of flights (ie excluding category 3 aircraft). There can only be one reason or this - to fill the night quota to its absolute maximum.

- Gatwick, according to Howard Davies, "proposes that both runways should be operated in mixed-mode at the expanded airport, preventing the provision of respite through runway alternation, as would be delivered under both Heathrow schemes to some degree."

- Gatwick has paid how much UK Corporation Tax? We can't find evidence of it paying any over the last 5 years. Can you? Majority owned by a hedge fund based in NYC that recently sold off London City, have they really got the interests of UK PLC at heart? Or just profit?

In detail:

Changes in flight paths and legal action destined for the Final Hearing

Raising over £100,000 in less than a week, our Judicial Review sits ready for the final, Substantive Hearing, reserved for the Court of Appeal. Less than 16% of JR's get as far as this.
('Barraud v CAA, with Gatwick, NATS and DfT as Interested Parties in the Defence'

Why did we do this? Because despite the clamouring of tens of thousands that their airspace had been ripped asunder, the CEO of Gatwick told Charles Hendry MP in July 2014 that:

"…the impression may be that something has changed, although I can assure you nothing has…"

The Rt. Hon Lord Justice Burnett stated in his Order granting us Permission (on Appeal) that:
"The changes to vectoring patterns in issue in this claim have had, as the [High Court] judge recognised, a significant impact on the aircraft noise suffered by residents in the affected area to the East of Gatwick Area"

Mr Wingate went on to say, later in 2014 to a local resident:

"There has not been any trial of a 'Superhighway' on our westerly approaches and we are not planning any trials."

Complaints rose from 3,000 to 25,000 and finally we had confirmation from the CEO of the CAA that:
"The air traffic controllers tried out revised vectoring practices between the hold and landing at Gatwick … Air traffic controllers were trialling, or trying out, some new vectoring choices to see what effect they would have"

Misleading Advertising

By their own admission, Gatwick have spent around £40m on advertising to secure your backing for the 2nd runway. You cannot have missed it, or its central message.

We don't have £40m. But we can do our sums and sent the Advertising Standards Authority an email.

Gatwick's ad stated:
"320,000 additional people will be affected by noise from a new runway at Heathrow"

However, the ASA looked a little deeper:

"…for the specific Heathrow scenario selected, while those newly affected was predicted to be 320,700, the number of people newly removed was 264,200 and therefore the net increase of people newly affected was 56,500."

And concluded:
"We therefore concluded that readers would not adequately understand the basis of the comparative claim and that it was therefore misleading."
Source: ASA Ruling on Gatwick Airport Ltd, 12 August  2015

We're not for one moment arguing that wherever the airport expansion takes place, people will not be affected. After all, we're working very closely with other flight path campaign group from every major airport in the country, including Heathrow.
But we are saying, if they can spend £40m and still get their core message so factually wrong, how can anyone trust their sums on the cost of expansion?

"Gatwick adverts banned by ASA for 'misleading public'"
Source: BBC News, 12 August 2015

Financial Transparency - or lack thereof

Sir John Stanley, when still an MP, had these very strong words to say on 18th December 2014 in the House of Commons:
"I consider that Gatwick Airport Ltd has failed - and failed scandalously - to be open and transparent about the financial evaluation of its project…"

"Gatwick Airport Ltd is simply seeking a blank cheque from UK taxpayers"

"On the grounds that Gatwick Airport Ltd has totally failed to be transparent about its financial evaluation, and has concealed the public expenditure implications of the infrastructure needed for a second runway, its proposal should be rejected by the Airports Commission"
Source: TheyWorkForYou, 18th December 2014
Airports Commission Assessment, November 2014

Does anyone trust Gatwick with a 2nd runway application?

"Changes in Gatwick flight paths have prompted Kent County Council to withdraw its support for a second runway at the West Sussex airport…"
"Council leader Paul Carter said the new flight paths had made life intolerable for people …"
Source: BBC News

Gatwick is opposed by all 10 local MP's
It is opposed by easyJet and British Airways
By West Sussex and Kent County Councils
By 7 other Borough and District Councils
Source: GACC

If they don't trust Gatwick's expansion plans, should you?

The Airports Commission

"The promoter of the Gatwick scheme proposes that both runways should be operated in mixed-mode at the expanded airport, preventing the provision of respite through runway alternation, as would be delivered under both Heathrow schemes to some degree."
Source: Airports Commission Final Report, 9.27

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October 12th 2016

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