The research, commissioned by the Airport, suggests that supporting a third runway at Heathrow could actually be a vote winner for local councillors. 48% of residents said they supported expanding Heathrow, while 34% were opposed.
57% of voters said they feel positive towards Heathrow, while 37% feel neutral and just 6% feel negative towards the airport. This is a similar result to the research conducted on parliamentary constituencies.
The research also suggests that for most people in Ealing, Hounslow and Hillingdon, Heathrow expansion is not the biggest issue in the local elections – for around 60% of voters, the candidates’ attitude to Heathrow will make no difference to voting intentions. Supporting expansion would give candidates in wards in those boroughs a small lift of around 5%.
The Airport says the research covers a statistically representative sample of those who stand to be most affected by Heathrow expansion and who are often portrayed as opposed to expansion. They say it suggests that a large proportion of people in local boroughs support the airport and its plans for a third runway.
Only one local authority – Richmond – had more residents who opposed expansion than supported it, all other areas saw more people supporting than opposing a third runway.
Colin Matthews, Heathrow’s Chief Executive, said: “A third runway at Heathrow has traditionally been seen as the best option for the UK but politically difficult in West London. This research suggests that the political costs of supporting a third runway at Heathrow have been overstated.”
“Far from being a political challenge, there is widespread local support for Heathrow. Many more people around Heathrow support a third runway than oppose it. More than 100,000 jobs depend on Heathrow and people want to see the airport flourish.”
Populus interviewed 1,000 adult residents (18+) in seven London Boroughs local to Heathrow Airport by telephone between 25 February and 23 March 2014. In total, 7,000 residents were interviewed. Results were weighted to be demographically representative of all adults in each borough.