BAA rapped for 'misleading' third runway advert

Posted by jamie — 26 August 2009 at 12:17pm - Comments

For as long as it's been pushing for an expanded Heathrow, BAA has been making exaggerated claims about the environmental impacts of a third runway. Now they, along with aviation lobbying group Future Heathrow, have been hauled up by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for making "misleading" claims about the levels of dirt, noise and air pollution a new runway will generate.

In an advert which ran prior to the government's green light back in January, Future Heathrow tried to convince a dubious public that runway number three would not make the airport noisier or dirtier. They also said that construction would not go ahead "unless local air quality meets stringent EU standards on the concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2)".

John McDonnell (MP for Hayes and Harlington who has been vocal in his opposition to more runways, and is a beneficial owner of our Airplot) thought this was a load of cobblers and referred the advert to the ASA. BAA responded on Future Heathrow's behalf saying the noise and dirt claims were a "statement of fact" and that "a third runway would definitely not create more noise or air pollution than Heathrow at present".

The ASA thought this too was a load of cobblers: there wasn't sufficient evidence to support the dirt and noise claims, while the ASA understood that the government intends to go ahead with the runway first, then worry about how to meet the EU NO2 (or Nox) targets. They've been told not to run the ad again.

While this is immensely satisfying, I do feel that it's akin to a horse/stable door timing problem. More people will have seen the advert than will become aware of the ASA's ruling. Even so, after other previous slapped wrists over misleading adverts, the aviation industry will have to mind its language more carefully.

About Jamie

I'm a forests campaigner working mainly on Indonesia. My personal mumblings can be found @shrinkydinky.

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