Government attacks us for telling the truth!

The Department for Transport has attacked us for using its own evidence!

In March 2018 the New Economics Foundation published a report called ‘Flying Low: The true cost of Heathrow’s third runway’.  The report used data produced by the Department for Transport (DfT). In particular, it reproduced DfT’s own estimate of net economic benefits, expressed as ‘Net Present Value’. See economics page.

The Department’s calculations show there is negligible economic benefit from a new runway (between minus £2.2 billion and plus £3.3 billion over a 60 year period – see  economics briefing)

But DfT are very keen to hide this evidence because their political master – Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling – and the government are so keen to expand Heathrow. For what, in the absence of a good economic argument, can only be construed as political/ideological reasons.

So much so that DfT launched an attack on NEF (New Economics Foundation).  They said to the City AM and the Guardian “This report makes a number of deliberately misleading claims that do not stack up against the evidence we have set out in two comprehensive reports.”

NEF were, needless to say, unimpressed. See NEF blog.

West London Friends of the Earth (WLFOE) asked DfT what in the report was “misleading”. DfT refused to answer, even when the request was repeated with a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

They also declined to say who actually wrote/authorised this attack on NEF. However they did say it was cleared by “the relevant Minister and media adviser”. The relevant minister would be Baroness Sugg and/or Chris Grayling.

WLFOE are particularly unhappy because DfT are displaying, once again, a lack of impartiality.  We have right to expect our civil servants – whose wages we pay – to confine themselves to matters of fact, of evidence and of public policy. Not launch attacks on civil society on behalf of its political bosses or its pals at Heathrow Airport.