More Government cover-up over Heathrow impacts

Another Sunday Times splash: those naughty officials at DfT spent 16 months trying to stop Justine Greening, MP for Putney, seeing information about the third runway. This includes emails which pointed out that "some consultees may ... claim collusion" between the Department for Transport and BAA.

Not only did they do everything to delay releasing documents, but they doctored reports to remove references to technical documents so that campaigners wouldn't know they existed. According to the Sunday Times, a memo from the senior strategy manager on Heathrow at BAA explicitly asks for a reference to BAA technical notes to be removed. It then adds: "He has avoided all references to the TNs [technical notes] in the surface access report and suggests, which I would agree with, that if [name redacted] can change his reference it could minimise the opportunity for a request for access to any or all of the TNs."

The emails show that the Government beefed up a consultation of businesses in the South East to make its case. Just 2.6% of the 6,000 businesses consulted bothered to reply, but the DfT still claimed that 90% of businesses relied on expansion, even though it was obvious that only those with a vested interest in the third runway had bothered to respond.

Nothing the Government did when making the case for expansion was above board. Civil servants and BAA sat down and openly conspired together to try and get the runway built. They moved the NOx meters further from the source of emissions to play down the levels of pollution. They invented magic planes which made no noise and emitted next to nothing (and which no engineer in their right mind would trust to get off the ground in one piece).

These reports are a damning paper trail of the lengths the Government would go to sell for communities around Heathrow down the river. It's time for heads to fall, but the Government will doubtless stand by Sir Humphrey and chums. That's no surprise: there's been a revolving door between Labour and the aviation industry since they first sniffed victory back in 1997. Plus ca change, etc.