Fresh doubt has been cast on the validity of Back Heathrow after anti-expansion campaigners were sent emails thanking them for their support.

Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond and north Kingston, was among those to receive an email this week, despite publicly showing his opposition to expansion at Heathrow and not signing up in support.

The email sent read: “Zac, Thank you for signing our petition to back Heathrow. Every extra signature makes our voice that much more powerful.

“With over 100,000 jobs at stake, securing a healthy future for Heathrow Airport is crucial. So please share our petition with others who may want to sign: =87201. Best wishes, Rob Gray, Back Heathrow campaign.”

Other people in Richmond and neighbouring boroughs also claimed they received a letter from Mr Gray, and said it was an “outrageous distortion” and “manipulation of data”.

Mr Goldsmith said: “We know that the only reason Heathrow has been able claim to have majority support for expansion in west London is because its surveys and polls have been ludicrously leading, and residents are aware that its front group Back Heathrow has used similarly underhand tactics to gather support.

“But this note from Back Heathrow to me is final confirmation that the supporter figures it cites need to be taken with a giant pinch of salt.”

Back Heathrow said the false sign ups were “clearly a bit of mischief making” and “part of a wider campaign against Back Heathrow”.

The pro-expansion group said it had 80,000 supporters in areas around Heathrow, but declined to tell this newspaper exactly how many lived in Richmond and said it did not record how many supporters worked at the airport.

Mr Gray said: “Someone has chosen to make mischief by signing Zac Goldsmith up to Back Heathrow at the end of the Airports Commission public consultation using his publicly available details.

“As soon as we were alerted to this by Mr Goldsmith after he received an email verification, this information was immediately removed from our database.

“It is an insult to our 80,000 supporters for anyone to suggest some of them don’t exist, but it is sadly typical of the desperate accusations that opponents of expansion now make.

“There is majority support for expansion in the boroughs around Heathrow – our 80,000 supporters provide a vivid demonstration of this.”

Back Heathrow said it was confident its system was not abused for bogus sign-ups and believed its supporter numbers were genuine.

Campaign group Back Off Heathrow (BoH), set up by a Richmond resident, also expressed dismay at the pro-expansion group repeatedly urging airport employees to sign up to their campaign.

A BoH spokesman said: “It doesn’t seem very natural to urge their vast army of employees to sign up to a cause that would benefit the company itself. 

“The supporters’ sign up page asks for an address. 

“Do they include all sign ups in their 80,000 supporter number, or just those living within a certain distance?”

Heathrow also found itself in a spot of bother this week after the Advertising Standards Authority ruled one of its adverts was misleading. 

The advert made the claim that direct flights to long haul destinations built 20 times more trade than indirect flights, which could not be proved.

John Stewart, chairman of Hacan, said: “There is no excuse for a company the size of Heathrow, able to afford expensive lawyers, to mislead in this way.

“Let’s argue the case for and against the third runway on the facts.”


Heathrow expansion supporters and opponents take to streets of central London

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Supporters and opposition to Heathrow expansion made their voices heard in central London on Tuesday. 

A cross-party group of MPs, including Zac Goldsmith, handed a no third runway petition to 10 Downing Street on February 3, while Heathrow expansion supporters stood outside the Houses of Parliament with a giant 80,000 figure. 

The Airports Commission's public consultation on airport expansion closed on Tuesday evening and a final recommendation on whether Heathrow, Gatwick or both airports should get an extra runway will be announced in the summer. 

Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the commission, said: “We will now spend the next few months thoroughly analysing those responses, carrying out any further work which might be required, considering the evidence and making our decision. 

“Once our analysis is complete, we will submit our final report to the Government this summer setting out our recommendations for additional runway capacity.”


Insulation promise to block out noise for houses in flightpath

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Heathrow will provide extra insulation to homes affected by aircraft noise if the Government gives the go ahead for a third runway. 

The noise insulation expands on Heathrow’s previous proposals and is comparable to those offered at other European airport hubs.

A total of £700m could be spent on the insulation, up £450m from the previous offer by Heathrow in the May 2014 submission to the Airports Commission.

The scheme would benefit those who experience noise under existing flight paths and those who would be affected by a new runway.

Homes closest to the airport, with higher levels of noise, would have the full cost of their noise insulation covered by the airport and up to £3,000 would be offered to homes further away. 

The noise insulation package would include acoustic double glazing in windows, ceiling overboarding in bedrooms and loft insulation and ventilation. 

A total of 160,000 homes could be eligible for insulation from Windsor to Richmond, with all homes in Heston, Cranford and 35,000 homes in Hounslow included. 

John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow, said: “We designed the new approach to expanding Heathrow to minimise noise to local residents, but we also need to mitigate the impact on those who are still affected.”

The noise insulation offer is subject to Government policy support and regulatory approval by the CAA.