ALLEGATIONS that Heathrow's owner BAA colluded with the Government to 'fix' the recent public consultation into expansion at the airport have this week led to calls for an urgent inquiry.
According to a Sunday newspaper, the Spanish-owned company prevented the use of data which showed a third runway would cause unlawful levels of pollution and extra noise.
Instead, it is claimed BAA executives gave the Department for Transport (DfT) amended data showing the anticipated 230,000 extra flights a year at the airport would have a minimal impact.
Cllr Barbara Reid, Hounslow Council's lead member for aviation, said: "If these allegations are found to be true, it will confirm what many local people have suspected all along, that the Government and BAA are being economical with the environmental truth.
"Anyone with common sense knows that more planes means more noise and more pollution. It's time for the true impact of expansion to be revealed with the help of an independent investigation of what looks like collusion between the Government and BAA."
It has also emerged that the Government's own watchdog, the Environment Agency, has now criticised the DfT evidence to support Heathrow expansion as flawed and incomplete.
Putney MP Justine Greening this week wrote to the Parliamentary Ombudsman, Ann Abraham, to complain about the close relationship between civil servants and BAA.
The Tory representative has accused Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell of failing to act on claims the department had acted in collusion with the airport operator over Heathrow expansion.
Campaign group Hacan ClearSkies believes there may now be 'very strong grounds' for a lawsuit against the Government to nullify the under-fire consultation, which ended last month.
But a BAA spokeswoman said: "We strongly refute any allegations of collusion. The Government made it clear in its 2003 Air Transport White Paper that it would work with BAA and other agencies to consider how the environmental limits could be met to enable growth at Heathrow.
"The Government has underlined that growth will not go ahead unless the environmental limits are met.
"BAA fully supports this position and in our response to the Department for Transport's consultation we called for future capacity limits at Heathrow to be dependent on ensuring the environmental limits were not breached."