BUSINESS support for a third runway at Heathrow is unlikely to be as strong as the aviation industry claims.
That is the conclusion of new research published today by the campaign groups NoTRAG (No Third Runway Action Group) and HACAN, which assessed the 100 businesses who came out publicly in support of a third runway in a national newspaper advertisement sponsored by the pro-expansion group Future Heathrow.
The research showed that of the 100 businesses, 53 have clients in, or connections with, the aviation industry - or would stand a chance of getting work if expansion took place.
Eight of these firms have a link with the BAA chairman, Sir Nigel Rudd. A further 13 are trade associations.
Three are trade unions. That just leaves 31, of which twelve are legal firms, advertising agencies or finance houses.
That leaves 19 which may not have a financial interest in the expansion of Heathrow.
The businesses which support expansion include: Amey, owned by a Spanish infrastructure services company of Ferrovial, the owners of BAA.
Balfour Beatty, the giant construction firm which has had a contract with BAA since 1999.
Clifford Chance, the upmarket legal firm which is the market leader in the aircraft leasing and financing sector.
Hilton Hotels, which own airport hotels. JC Decaux, the billboard advertising firm which has a huge contract with BAA.
Mace, the consultancy which was the project leader on British Airway's Waterside HQ.
Pendragon, whose non-executive chairman is BAA chairman Nigel Rudd.
The new research also looked at the Corporate Social Responsibility policies of the firms which signed the advert.
It found that many of them had policies which seemed to sit strangely with their support for Heathrow expansion.
John Stewart, the Chair of HACAN, says: "The aviation industry has made a big deal about its business support. Our research shows that it is self-interest not the national economic interest which drives most of the firms which have publicly backed a third runway.
"What is really significant is the huge number of businesses that did not sign up to the Future Heathrow advert.
The message is clear: most businesses do not regard a third runway as essential for economic prosperity.
"It adds weight to the view that the Conservatives were right to announce they would scrap plans for a third runway."
JOHN STEWART AND GERALDINE NICHOLSON,
NoTRAG, by email.