AirportWatch calls on Airports Commission to safeguard communities under threat of blight from airport proposals

AirportWatch – which includes campaign groups at a number of airports facing the threat of expansion – have joined forces in writing to Sir Howard Davies, Chairman of the Airports Commission, calling upon him to safeguard all the threatened communities against blight. The Commission is due to produce an interim report at the end of this year and, if it concludes that the UK needs more airport capacity, it will publish a shortlist of options. The Commission’s final report and recommendations won’t be published until mid-2015, after the next general election, and it will then be for the Government of the day to take any final decisions. As soon as such a list is published, every single one of the areas under threat will be hit by generalised blight and people will immediately experience not only stress and uncertainty, but difficulties in selling their homes. The campaigners’ letter asks Sir Howard “to make it a pre-condition for being shortlisted for the promoter of an airport development proposal to undertake to introduce fair and reasonable arrangements to address the problem of generalised blight arising from their proposal within three months of being shortlisted and to operate such arrangements for a minimum period of two years.”

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PRESS RELEASE  issued by AirportWatch

11 September 2013

Sir Howard Davies urged to introduce airport blight safeguards for local communities

Campaign groups representing communities threatened by airport expansion have joined forces in writing to Sir Howard Davies, Chairman of the Airports Commission, calling upon him to safeguard all the threatened communities against blight.

The Airports Commission is due to produce an interim report at the end of this year and, if it concludes that the UK needs more airport capacity, it will publish a shortlist of options. The Commission’s final report and recommendations won’t be published until mid-2015, after the next general election and it will then be for the Government of the day to take any final decisions.

Sarah Clayton, speaking for AirportWatch said: “As soon as any shortlist of options is published, every single one of the areas under threat will be hit by generalised blight and people will immediately experience not only stress and uncertainty, but difficulties in selling their homes.”

Sarah Clayton continued: “This is totally unfair, and it is unnecessary. The UK already has more than enough airport capacity but Sir Howard Davies has opened a Pandora’s Box by inviting all and sundry to submit proposals for new airports and for expanding existing airports. The blight could last for years, even if no new runways are ever built.”

The aviation industry largely agrees that the UK could justify, at most, one additional runway over the next 25 years. Thus, if three or four options are shortlisted, tens of thousands – or perhaps even hundreds of thousands – of homeowners will have been blighted unnecessarily. And yet those who have submitted proposals to Sir Howard Davies, whether for expansion of existing airports or for totally new airports, have not so far been asked to pay a single penny towards addressing the problems and costs of blight that their proposals will cause.

The campaigners’ letter to Sir Howard Davies asks him “to make it a pre-condition for being shortlisted, for the promoter of an airport development proposal to undertake to introduce fair and reasonable arrangements to address the problem of generalised blight arising from their proposal – within three months of being shortlisted – and to operate such arrangements for a minimum period of two years.”

Sarah Clayton concluded: “We believe it is entirely reasonable to expect those who are promoting airport expansion projects to take some responsibility for the consequences. They cannot simply be allowed a free lunch at the expense of local residents.”

ENDS

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NOTES TO EDITORS
 The letter to Sir Howard Davies  (copied below)  has been sent by campaigners representing communities around Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Birmingham and Bristol airports as well as communities threatened by proposed new airports in the Thames and Severn estuaries.

A pdf copy of the letter to Sir Howard Davies is available from AirportWatch if required.

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FURTHER INFORMATION AND COMMENT

 Sarah Clayton, AirportWatch Co-ordinator, Tel 020 7248 2227 or 01372 722341; info@airportwatch.org.uk;    http://www.airportwatch.org.uk

 


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Letter in pdf format – AirportWatch Letter to Sir Howard Davies 

Below is the text of the letter:

Sir Howard Davies
Airports Commission
6th Floor, Sanctuary Buildings
20 Great Smith Street
London SW1P 3BT

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Dear Sir Howard

You have received some 50 proposals either for the long term expansion of existing UK airports or for the building of new airports, covering various locations in the south east as well as Birmingham, Cardiff, the Bristol Channel and elsewhere.

Our firm view is that, having regard to the Department for Transport forecasts and the capacity that already exists, there is no need for any new runways anywhere in the UK, and that it would threaten our ability, as a country, to deliver on our climate change commitments, if any new runways were to be permitted.

By comparison, the industry view appears to be that the UK airports market needs one new runway over the next 25 or so years and it is needed in the south east. The divide between both sides of the argument is therefore less than one might be led to believe from the reports which appear in the media.

Given the scale of costs involved in developing a new runway, including the related surface access infrastructure, it is highly unlikely that there will be a business case for the development of any more than one new runway in the UK before about 2040. We will, of course, do our utmost to prevent even one new runway from being built.

In the meantime, as a result of the open invitation to all and sundry to submit their proposals for expanding the UK’s airport capacity in the long term to the Commission by 19 July 2013, a Pandora’s Box has been opened. The situation has been exacerbated because almost all those who have made submissions have sought the maximum publicity for their proposals.

The victims of this dismal state of affairs are the long suffering communities who live in the vicinity of our existing airports and those who live near the sites being proposed for a new airport. Many communities are currently threatened by the prospect of their homes and local environment being bulldozed or becoming subject to intolerable levels of aircraft noise, air pollution, road traffic and other airport-related impacts.

If, despite our best efforts to persuade you otherwise, you ultimately conclude that there is a need for additional airport capacity in the UK, we understand you will publish a shortlist of airport development options around the end of this year. That will bring relief to those communities whose local airports are not shortlisted but it will greatly increase the blight, anxiety and uncertainty for those who are on the shortlist.

It seems to us entirely reasonable for the promoter of an airport development proposal to be required to meet the cost of the property blight caused by his proposal. Such a requirement would provide at least some safety net for local communities threatened by the prospect of major airport expansion. This would also be a test of the seriousness of the proposal and reduce the risk of highly speculative proposals being shortlisted.

Arrangements to address generalised blight were introduced following the publication of the 2003 Air Transport White Paper but these arrangements proved to be too little too late. The evidence from the official Land Registry statistics clearly showed that airport-related blight (a) extended far beyond the area within the projected 66 dBA leq16 noise contour and (b) started as soon as the shortlisted options were published in July 2002.

We therefore urge you to make it a pre-condition for being shortlisted for the promoter of a development proposal to undertake to introduce fair and reasonable arrangements to address the problem of generalised blight arising from their proposal(s) within three months of being shortlisted and to operate such arrangements for a minimum period of two years. By fair and reasonable we would envisage all homeowners within the projected 54 dBA leq16 noise contour being entitled to the unblighted value of their home – independently assessed – together with reasonable removal expenses.

If there is any aspect of the above which requires clarification we would be happy to discuss this further with you at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely
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Jeremy Birch, Bristol FoE  (Friends of the Earth)

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Jon Fuller, No Estuary Airport

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Andrew Lambourne, HALE (Luton)  (Hertfordshire Against Luton Expansion)

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Adam McCusker, Birmingham FoE  (Friends of the Earth)

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Peter Sanders, SSE (Stansted)  (Stop Stansted Expansion)

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Brendon Sewill, GACC (Gatwick)   (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign)

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John Stewart, HACAN (Heathrow)   (Heathrow Assn for the Control of Aircraft Noise)

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Stansted campaigners urge Airports Commission to provide safeguards for communities against blight

11.9.2013

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) is one of seven airport campaign groups who have joined forces in writing to Sir Howard Davies, Chairman of the Airports Commission, calling upon him to safeguard local residents against airport-related blight. The Commission is due to produce an interim report at the end of this year and, if it concludes that the UK needs more airport capacity, it will publish a short-list of options. The Commission’s final report won’t be published until mid-2015, after the next general election and it will then be for the Government of the day to take any final decisions. During that time, and perhaps for longer, the areas selected will suffer blight, and great uncertainty. The last time that Stansted was short-listed for major expansion, in 2002, £570 million was wiped off local house prices in the first 18 months of the threat, affecting an area of about 150 square miles. There is now the prospect of history repeating itself.  Those who are promoting airport expansion projects must take some responsibility for the consequences. They cannot simply be allowed to dine out for free on their airport expansion dreams, leaving local residents to pick up the tab.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=17347

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Earlier:

GACC warns of widespread blight being caused by runway proposals submitted to Airports Commission

1.7.2013    .Gatwick Airport are due to publish their plans for a new runway by the Airports Commission deadline of 19th July.  GACC, the main environmental community group concerned with the airport, warn that the runway proposal will result in widespread blight in the area. Thousands of people will find tens of thousands of pounds is knocked off the value of their houses, which will be hard to sell except at a substantial loss.  ”Working men and women will find themselves unable to move to take up a new job; retired couples will find their hopes dashed of moving to a smaller house in another area.  Anxiety will be caused to thousands of people and some may be driven to desperation.” In the days of BAA there was a Property Market Support Bond, so the airport would buy houses at the pre-blight price.  The airport now says that scheme is under review and nothing will be decided until the Airports Commission reports in 2015. GACC says this demonstrates a callous disregard for the local community. GACC has asked the Commission to insist that all airports which are due to put forward plans for new runways should introduce a scheme for dealing with blight.http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=1508.


Earlier still:

Sipson “hollow victory” – today blight, damaged community, families moved out

7.4.2011

Sipson is now a shadow of its former self. Due to  years of blight, from fear of a 3rd Heathrow runway, the local community has all but evaporated. Many homes were bought by BAA, and are now let to short term tenants. Therefore there are few families planning to raise their families there in the long term, and no security on which to build homes, businesses or to invest either cash or emotional attachment. The lessons of Sipson have a national significance; they are the lessons that those on the proposed route of the high-speed rail line from London to Birmingham are starting to learn. Big infrastructure projects create blight from the moment they are first mooted, and, even if a project is abandoned, the doleful legacy may linger long after the spotlight has moved away.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=2675

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Stansted runway ramblers to highlight airport blight on Sunday 26th Sept 2010

21.9.2010Plans are advanced for the ninth annual runway ramble to be organised by Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) which takes place next Sunday afternoon, 26 September. The special four mile circular walk has again been devised to highlight the blight which lingers over the countryside in the wake of the recently withdrawn plans to construct a second runway at Stansted.  It will also be an opportunity to remind people that the battle for the community’s future needs to be enshrined in a lasting agreement by the main political parties so that future generations do not have to go through yet another war with the airport to safeguard the area.http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=4348.


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Heathrow noise ‘to blight live of millions more Londoners’

2.4.2013

The 2M group, which represents some 24 local councils and between them some 3 million  people, have released likely flight path maps for 3rd and 4th Heathrow runways. 2M estimate that while some 1 million people are affected by Heathrow noise at present, with 2 more runways, that would rise to 3 million people. Their indicative flight paths for arrivals and departures show the large areas which would be affected by aircraft noise if a northern and a southern runway were to be built . The leader of Wandsworth Council commenting on blighting the lives of 3 million people and spoiling the quiet enjoyment of huge parts of London: “The price is far too high and the benefits far from certain.” This will definitely be a key political issue at the next election.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=1702

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