Heathrow harasses residents under threat of runway
Residents living in the CPO area for the proposed third runway have received a letter, questionnaire and information sheet from Heathrow even though many of those people have already refused to take part in its surveys linked to the proposed third runway. This repeated pestering of residents for data looks like harassment.
People living around Heathrow already receive numerous publications and promotions from Heathrow under the guise of providing information. (Just prior to the MPs’ vote in June, Back Heathrow paid for a promotional wrap around the local Gazette series of newspapers.) In the summer a wider area had “Heathrow News”, a propaganda sheet disguised as a local “newspaper”, posted through letterboxes. This coincided with a Populus poll commissioned by Heathrow (5 July - 3 September) which asked: “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?” and “Parliament has recently voted in favour of expansion at Heathrow Airport. Taking everything you know into account, do you currently support or oppose expanding Heathrow?” It wanted a result that it could use to indicate local support for its destructive, noisy and polluting proposed expansion. Also useful to persuade inhabitants of beleaguered villages to give up the fight to save their communities.
Heathrow has also been infiltrating local primary schools to promote airport jobs to 10 year olds. Meanwhile Back Heathrow, a private company funded by Heathrow with the sole purpose of promoting expansion, is spreading its message in universities. Tens of millions of pounds are being spent to promote the airport through methods that come under “community engagement”. The message of inevitability is being reinforced with boreholes being drilled close to people’s homes and wildlife being catalogued. Everything is aimed at giving the impression that opposing a third runway is futile. This is not the case.
In an exercise that looks aimed at demoralising residents and squeezing information from them to facilitate future acquisition of their properties (whether a runway is built or not), Heathrow has sent out the latest correspondence with the excuse that they are updating information. It is only 18 months since it last sent out questionnaires. Heathrow could decide to keep regularly “updating” the data it has on residents, properties and land.
The following advice, published on SHE’s Facebook on 16th October, still applies:
1. The third runway is not a done deal.
2. You DO NOT have to provide the information that Heathrow requests on these questionnaires for land referencing.
3. If you provide information it will go to Heathrow and they will share it. Ultimately, the airport's plan (and required for this planning process if it continues) is to publish all the information you provide in a Book of Reference that everyone will be able to see - and presumably use however they wish.
4. Please DO NOT let this letter and accompanying paperwork upset or stress you. It can be binned with a clear conscience if that helps. Otherwise, just put it at the back of a drawer and get on with your life. If they contact you or knock on the door, you have the right to ignore them or say you will not be providing your details.
5. The form highlights a deadline of 30 November 2018. You can ignore this. This is for the benefit of WSP UK Limited, the company that is being employed to contact you three times to try to extract information. If you don’t reply by this date they will contact you again. You could use the pre-paid envelope to make it clear that you do not want to supply information..
6. WSP now owns Mouchel Consulting, which is the company that many people complained about 18 months ago. You are essentially still dealing with the same company if you engage with them. As a result of those complaints, a member of Heathrow staff will accompany anyone from WSP who knocks at your door. You DO NOT have to answer the door or allow them onto your property.
7. The letter gives an email address: community email@example.com and a phone number 0800 307 7996. These Heathrow staff are likely to encourage you to complete the questionnaire. You DO NOT need to supply information despite them saying it is to “keep people informed…”. They have sent you this letter therefore they have your address in the event that it is vital to contact you in future.
8. Heathrow intends to run a public consultation on its third runway proposals in June 2019. You DO NOT have to provide personal information in order to give your views.
9. Heathrow says, “We don’t anticipate buying properties and land for the proposed expansion of Heathrow until we know whether the DCO (Development Consent Order) application has been granted and we have made a decision to begin construction, but we may do so if there are special circumstances.” This may never happen. Even with Heathrow’s optimistic timetable they state they would not expect a decision on the planning application (the DCO) before 2021. They are ignoring potential delays caused by opportunities for legal action, political developments and possible increased action to tackle climate change and pollution. Even if you give information, there is currently nothing to stop Heathrow continuing to harass you for updates.
10. You can STOP the letters and calls requesting land referencing information. Contact WSP at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Land Referencing Freephone number: 0808 1969 502, which is open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm. They should remove your name from the list of people to be revisited. This is particularly important if you feel that you or a relative will be distressed by this process. You should not have to divulge medical conditions to justify your request.
Heathrow has already accessed information about your address from other sources, such as the Land Registry. Together with this letter, questionnaire (with some details already filled in) and a Q&A information sheet, it included a location map showing boundaries for the parcel of land. We are already aware of one resident who has received her neighbour’s information! You cannot be sure that your data will be secure.
Information you provide will be shared. Heathrow will share it with “trusted third parties” yet it does not tell you who it trusts. We don’t trust Heathrow. They do not make it clear on the paperwork how long this information will be kept. The information people supply now may never be needed, but if it is used for the DCO it will be published in a Book of Reference for everyone to see - minus your phone numbers and email address. There are legitimate reasons why people do not publicise personal details such as who lives in their home, whether they are related or tenants etc. Do you want Heathrow and other companies to know who has a financial interest in your property?
Once you have supplied information to Heathrow there is no indication on the paperwork that you can withdraw permission for it to be used.
Heathrow talks about wanting your information to fulfil its “statutory obligations”. It DOES NOT need your information now and may never need it.
It is no surprise that Heathrow’s foreign owners are eyeing up valuable land in England. Housing is in short supply in the South East and our homes, most on a sizeable plot of land, represent a good investment for them whether a runway is built or not. Do not be intimidated into giving your details to these speculators.
WE HAVE A RIGHT TO LIVE OUR LIVES WITHOUT HARASSMENT FROM HEATHROW!
Note: For those who have not yet received the land referencing questionnaire, WSP say that they will be sent to a much wider area over the next couple of years. Please, wherever you live, support residents fighting to save homes and British heritage in the villages under threat from a third runway. You can sign up for newsletters and, if you choose, to take part in legal protest activities. Thank you.