Kew Gardens Remain Silent on Heathrow Expansion

HACAN questions BAA and BA figures leading management roles

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Pressure Group HACAN ClearSkies has revealed that leading figures from BAA, the owner of Heathrow Airport, and British Airways play key roles in the management of Kew Gardens.

The world-famous Royal Botanic Gardens lie directly under the flight path, and HACAN allege that the role of certain individuals connected to the aviation industry in fund raising for Kew is compromising their ability to speak out on airport expansion before the Government is due to reveal its plans for a big increase of flights .

Marcus Agius, the Chairman of BAA, has a key fundraising role for Kew as the Chairman of the Foundation and Friends of Kew. Andrew Cahn, the Director of Government and Industry Affairs at British Airways, sits on Kew’s Board of Trustees.

Kew Gardens has consistently refused to speak out against the expansion of Heathrow. If the Government goes ahead with plans to abolish runway alternation, Kew Gardens could be under the flight path all day long. The Department for Transport is expected to consult on its plans in March next year.

The role of the Foundation and Friends of Kew is “to provide support for Kew by raising funds for Kew’s activities”, according to the Kew Garden’s annual report. The report admits “financial support through bequests from Friends is becoming an increasingly important source of income.”

HACAN Chair John Stewart said, “We are very suspicious about the motives of Marcus Agius and Andrew Cahn. Have they wormed themselves into key positions in order to make sure that Kew Gardens is not critical of plans to expand Heathrow? Certainly, local people are in despair about Kew’s refusal to speak out.”

A spokesperson for Kew Gardens said, "The issue of Heathrow expansion and airport noise has never been discussed by our trustees either at board level or in private conversations. As the issue has become a hotly debated topic, we feel it is now time for our Trustees to consider the matter."

The Foundation is now planning to discuss the Heathrow issue at their Committee Meeting on 15th September. HACAN are asking for interested parties to write to the Foundation before this meeting to make their views known.

August 31, 2005