Trust sues airline over plane crash

A LEADING conservation charity is suing a Korean airline for more than £300,000 after a cargo plane crashed near an Essex forest.The National Trust is claiming damages from Korean Airlines after a Boeing 747 jumbo jet plummeted into fields near to Hatfield Forest on December 22, 1999.

A LEADING conservation charity is suing a Korean airline for more than £300,000 after a cargo plane crashed near an Essex forest.

The National Trust is claiming damages from Korean Airlines after a Boeing 747 jumbo jet plummeted into fields near to Hatfield Forest on December 22, 1999.

It claims the crash caused "extensive damage" to the forest and meant it was closed to the public for several weeks.

Katy Stephenson, spokeswoman for the National Trust in East Anglia, said: "Basically we are looking to recover losses back when the property had to close in 2000.

"We are looking for compensation for the damage to nature conservation and the impact on the ancient trees."

Disaster struck shortly after the Boeing 747 had taken off from Stansted Airport and the crash killed all four crew members on board.

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It was believed to have been caused by faulty navigation equipment.

The wreckage, which included depleted uranium in the plane's tail, narrowly missed Great Hallingbury, as well as the busy M11 motorway, but was scattered over countryside in the forest.

The Bury St Edmunds-based office of the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty filed a writ at the High Court's Queen's Bench Division against the airline on June 22, exactly five-and-a-half-years after the crash.

It says: "The impact of the crash caused extensive immediate damage to the forest, including several fires, and the destruction of forestry.

"In addition, as a result of the crash, there was a widespread distribution of debris, which included a range of hazardous materials carried on the aircraft.

"In the immediate aftermath of the crash, employees of the National Trust and of the emergency services attended the scene.

"Thereafter the forest was closed until after the conclusion of a number of investigations, among others, into the causes of the crash and the whereabouts of the hazardous materials.

"The forest remained closed to the pubic until February 7, 2000."

The writ says Korean Airlines is liable for National Trust's initial expenditure in response to the accident; trading losses as a direct result of the disruption caused by the crash and miscellaneous future losses, including grazing revenue, fencing costs and uranium removal costs.

It is claiming for the value of the actual damage to the forest, together with the cost of assessing and minimising long term damage.

This includes inspecting and monitoring the damage to trees and other flora and fauna, as well as developing and implementing strategies for minimising the effects of the crash on the forest.

The National Trust is also applying for damages for trespass, negligence and/or nuisance as well as interest on the sum of damages awarded.

Ms Stephenson said she could not comment further on how the charity would meet the cost of the case or on the exact amount claimed.

Solicitors acting for Korean Airlines were unavailable to comment last night.

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