Compensation comes at a high cost for Heathrow

27/7/14

By John Stewart

HACAN gets a constant stream of emails from people throughout the year but rarely have we been deluged with so many angry emails as we have had over the consultation on compensation launched by Heathrow last week.  http://your.heathrow.com/consultation/

Here’s a pretty typical email: 

Dear Hacan

I have just received this leaflet from Heathrow which you are probably aware about.  What I would really like to do is grab it, shove it up their arses, bang their heads together and scream ” No I don’t want another f***ing runway” !

What is hacan’s view of this? Should we be going to these sham meetings and be telling Heathrow what we think or should they be picketed?

Any other ideas?

What has sparked the fury is the feeling people are being steamrollered into accepting the fact that a third runway is inevitable at a time when the Government has made no decision on the future of Heathrow.  They are simply not prepared to discuss compensation arising from a third runway they simply don’t want.

It is a fury that is barely suppressed at the best of times.  For many residents Heathrow is still associated with BAA’s broken promises:  terminal 4 will be the last major development; terminal 5 will not lead to a 3rd runway etc. etc.  The current management at Heathrow is painfully aware of that legacy and I believe is making real attempts to adopt a more open approach.  But past broken promises are still in the forefront of many residents’ minds, particularly those who bought their properties believing them to be true.

This consultation on compensation is not breaking any promises but is putting the cart of compensation to before the horse: whether the Government will come down in favour of a third runway.  That decision is at least a year away.

For people whose homes would be demolished Heathrow is offering much more generous terms than it is required to do so by law.  It is offering the price of the property (pre-blight), plus 25% plus stamp duty, plus removal costs.

But Heathrow is always going to struggle to offer adequate compensation to all residents under the flight paths, simply because there are so many of them.  It cannot match the Charles de Gaulle scheme where everybody within the 55 Lden contour (the area where the EU considers noise can be a problem) some form of compensation of mitigation.   (The CAA: Managing Aviation Noisehttp://www.caa.co.uk/docs/33/CAP%201165%20Managing%20Aviation%20Noise%202.pdf  Page 50: “In France, there is a statutory scheme to insulate all housing within the 55 dB Lden contour”.)  At Heathrow, that would mean offering at least 725,000 people something.

Equally to match Gatwick’s compensation offer would cost Heathrow billions.  At the end of last week Gatwick spelt out what it is offering residents: http://www.mediacentre.gatwickairport.com/News/Gatwick-unveils-comprehensive-local-community-pledges-for-expansion-plans-and-challenges-Heathrow-to-925.aspx

The third runway comes at a high price for residents and the wider environment.  It may turn out also be to be too costly for Heathrow in terms of it being able to provide adequate compensation. 

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