Airport to consult on noise compensation

By Roddy Ashworth and Ted JeoryTHE owners of Stansted Airport have launched a consultation on proposed compensation for residents affected by aircraft noise.

By Roddy Ashworth and Ted Jeory

THE owners of Stansted Airport have launched a consultation on proposed compensation for residents affected by aircraft noise.

BAA aims to develop a voluntary scheme to provide noise insulation for “sensitive buildings” such as schools and hospitals.

A second scheme proposes to offer a financial package, capped at £10,000, for residents in the noisiest areas who want to move house.

BAA's chief executive, Mike Clasper, said: “Airports can be noisy places to live near and major developments can cause uncertainty.

“We want to do the right thing by our local residents and minimise, mitigate and compensate for these impacts, and how we do this is what we are consulting on.

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“We know we are not always a perfect neighbour, but through these schemes we aim to be a good neighbour and retain the support of our communities.”

The consultation, which runs until December 21, relates to aircraft noise generated by the existing runway at Stansted Airport and does not extend to the proposed expansion of the site.

To qualify for noise insulation, buildings must be within a 63-decibel noise contour, while property owners must live within a 69-decibel noise contour to be eligible for the financial assistance to move house.

Meanwhile, the managing director of Stansted Airport has branded as “alarmist” a campaign group fighting its plan for a second runway.

Terry Morgan spoke out after BAA launched a Home Owner Support Scheme designed to guarantee the value of residential and commercial property closest to the proposed runway for up to 15 years.

BAA is promising to buy property at a market rate index-linked from June 2002 - the time before extra runway capacity was considered - to prevailing price levels at the time of the sale.

The aim is to ensure homeowners who need or want to move can sell their property for the price they would have realised if the runway plans did not exist.

Although fewer than 500 homes - mainly in areas around part of Brewers End, Bambers Green and Duton Hill - are likely to be eligible for the guarantee, it could cost BAA tens of millions of pounds

Campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion said BAA's initiative, which starts in January, dealt only with a small area and ignored the wider issue of generalised blight, which they claimed affects 12,000 homes.

Its chairman, Peter Sanders, added: “The BAA scheme is a kick in the teeth for thousands of local families.”

But Mr Morgan dismissed the group's complaints and suggested it could be contributing to property blight.

“If they go around saying 12,000 homes are going to be affected if we get planning permission for the second runway, there's a danger that's what will happen - that's the way markets work,” he said.

“We have to accept that there are some people who will never accept expansion, but I think the campaign group is being alarmist with their statements.

“Our new scheme deals specifically with those living closest to the proposed runway and we followed examples set down during the debate over the Channel Tunnel Rail Link for instance.

“The wider issue of noise blight will come much later in the process. Clearly some people will be affected by downward prices, but I believe they will be confined to a very narrow area.”

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