Heathrow expansion “a vote winner”

People in West London are more likely to vote for their MP if they support Heathrow expansion than if they oppose a third runway according to new research.

The research, by polling company Populus, suggests that supporting a third runway at Heathrow could actually be a vote winner for local MPs. 48% of residents said they supported expanding Heathrow, while 36% were opposed.

57% of voters said they feel positive towards Heathrow, while 35% feel neutral and just 7% feel negative towards the airport.

The research suggests that a majority of people in local boroughs support the airport and its plans for a third runway.

Only one constituency in the local area – Richmond Park – had more residents who opposed expansion than were in support, 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 vastly overstated.”

“Far from being politically impossible, 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, not decline or close as the Mayor proposes.”

Populus interviewed a representative sample of 7,000 people by telephone in Hounslow, Ealing, Richmond, Spelthorne, Windsor constituencies and the London Borough of Hillingdon between 7th and 30th November 2013.

Three questions were asked.

1. Taking everything into account, based on what you have seen, read and heard, how positive or negative would you say you feel towards Heathrow Airport?

57% were positive, 35% neutral, and 7% negative across the whole sample.

2. At the moment, Heathrow Airport has two runways which currently operate at maximum capacity. The government is considering whether to allow Heathrow to build a third runway to increase the airport’s capacity. Taking everything you know into account, do you currently support or oppose expanding Heathrow?

48% were in support, and 36% opposed across West London. Opposition is strongest in Zac Goldsmith’s constituency Richmond Park, but all constituencies except Goldsmith’s had a majority in favour of expansion. Support was strongest in Seema Malhotra’s constituency of Feltham and Heston.

3. If your local MP supported Heathrow expansion, would it make you more or less likely to vote for that candidate, or would it have no impact?

The most popular answer was ‘no impact’ with 60% feeling the issue would make no difference to voting intentions. However, more were likely to be swayed to vote for a candidate who supported expansion than for one who didn’t.

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