Heathrow hopes to pay homeowners to get access to their properties, in order to do required surveys, to speed runway
Bloomberg reports that Heathrow is offering homeowners cash to take part in a nature study. This is to get studies on local biodiversity done fast, so Heathrow can get its dreamed of 3rd runway through quickly. Heathrow is apparently offering hundreds of homeowners a £1,000 reward if they take part in environmental studies, needed for its runway planning. The letter from Nigel Milton says “This may require a visit from our team…” The legal position is that Heathrow has no right of entry on to anyone’s property without their consent. Local campaign SHE is concerned some householders may feel pressured into giving Heathrow access. The owners of houses and farmland where the 3rd runway would be built will apparently qualify for the payment in return for agreeing to several visits over about two years, to assess biodiversity. Heathrow will soon be knocking on doors, hoping people will agree to the “free” cash. [Getting this access from people overcomes the problems of getting onto private land – which otherwise could take time, and hold back the runway plans]. Heathrow have to get enough owners to sign up, to get enough information on bats, newts etc. Agricultural land and rivers must also be surveyed. Normally some fairly inadequate mitigation measure is put in place, if wildlife habitat is destroyed. Heathrow will be hoping no wildlife or other biodiversity issue causes them any delays.
See warning below, on how this may be used by Heathrow for general “softening up” and gathering other information.
Heathrow Tempts Runway Opponents With $1,250 Christmas Sweetener
by Christopher Jasper (Bloomberg.com)
London hub offers homeowners cash to take part in nature study
CEO seeking to speed planning process after expansion go-ahead
Heathrow Airport Ltd. will offer hundreds of homeowners a £1,000 ($1,250) festive sweetener to participate in environmental studies vital to expediting planning for its controversial £16 billion third runway.
The owners of houses and farmland on which the new landing strip is due to be built will qualify for the payment in return for agreeing to a handful of visits over about two years, Heathrow Chief Executive Officer John Holland-Kaye said in an interview. The surveys are required to establish the site’s wildlife value.
“Over the next 10 days we’ll be knocking on doors,” he said. “People will hopefully say that if you’re going to come to me before Christmas and give me a thousand pounds to do nothing, I’d really like to know about it.”
Heathrow must sign up a proportion of affected households for studies into the runway’s likely impact on populations of creatures including bats, badgers and newts as it sets out on the development-consent process, Holland-Kaye said.
Agricultural land and rivers must also be surveyed. While mitigation measures such as the re-creation of habitats are usually acceptable, even major construction projects can suffer severe delays.
The new landing strip will allow Heathrow to handle 135 million passengers annually, up from about 75 million this year. Many local people oppose the plan because of the impact of extra aircraft noise and pollution, while residents of villages set to be swallowed up by the enlarged airport have staged protests backed by environmental groups and celebrity campaigners.
About 750 homes face compulsory purchase and likely demolition, with Heathrow offering owners a 25 percent premium above market value plus expenses, while thousands of others will qualify for compensation payments.
Heathrow is extending efforts to pare costs, Holland-Kaye said, with the option of spanning the nearby M25 motorway using a ramp emerging as preferable to building a tunnel for the road beneath the runway.
The company has also begun work on establishing so-called supply-chain hubs in northern and western England and in Scotland as it seeks participation from around Britain in what it’s pitching as a national project.
Ferrovial SA, which has a 25 percent stake in Heathrow, won’t be excluded from the bidding, Holland-Kaye said, even though British Airways owner IAG SA, the airport’s biggest client, has said the Spanish builder’s involvement would be inappropriate. Leading U.K. firms such as Laing O’Rourke Plc, which can produce fully fabricated buildings off-site, and Balfour Beatty Plc are among prospective beneficiaries, he added.
Holland-Kaye said he’s confident Heathrow can deliver the equity and debt funding required for the expansion and that it will reach agreement on a charging plan with airlines including IAG, which has said it fears imposition of a runway tax. “We know what the average charge could be over a period of time,” the CEO said. “We are now working with airlines to come up with the best pattern. There’s a negotiation to be had.”
The government plans to publish a draft national policy statement on Heathrow early in 2017, which will be subject to public consultation before a final version is put to Parliament next winter. In the event of approval the airport would then submit its planning application to local authorities, with the transport secretary having the final right of adjudication.
Comment by an AirportWatch member, affected by Heathrow:
I would be very concerned indeed about these proposals by Heathrow, to get access to homes and properties around Heathrow. Though the purpose may be to obtain information for wildlife studies, and thereby get the biological information they need quickly (so speeding up the process of getting the expansion plans built) there would be other objectives.
My concern would be that Heathrow is hoping to see properties in detail, and chat to the home owners. This could help them ascertain details about the properties, that they do not know already (numbers of rooms, extensions, who lives there etc) and perhaps even casually enquire about neighbouring properties or neighbours. They may also be aiming to “soften up” those whom they visit, to encourage them to sell up and take the money, without opposition.
Beware Trojans bearing gifts!
Heathrow offering £1000 for local survey visits
15.12.2016 (Stop Heathrow Expansion – SHE)
If you received Heathrow’s latest newsletter, Bulletin December 2016 issue, you are in the area that is likely to be severely impacted by a third runway and subject to various surveys – which could earn you a £1,000 payment from the airport.
A Heathrow Bulletin is sent to the 3,750 homes that would be most affected by a third runway.
Charles Burke of Colnbrook Community Association has spotted an interesting article on Bloomberg, a business news website, that claims “Heathrow Airport Limited will offer hundreds of homeowners a £1,000 ($1,200) festive sweetener to participate in environmental studies vital to expediting planning for its controversial 16 billion-pound third runway.”
“Over the next 10 days we’ll be knocking on doors. People will hopefully say that if you’re going to come to me before Christmas and give me a thousand pounds to do nothing, I’d really like to know about it”
— JOHN HOLLAND-KAYE, CEO HEATHROW AIRPORT LIMITED
It is however very odd that the Bulletin sent out last week, which mentions the surveys, makes no mention of any payment for residents who co-operate. The surveys, and the imminent delivery of the Bulletin, were mentioned at the Local Focus Forum on 6th December attended by representatives from the areas around Heathrow. The Chief Executive of Heathrow, John Holland-Kaye had even attended the beginning of that meeting and failed to mention the offer to pay residents for access to their properties.
Yet Bloomfield reports that it was Mr Holland-Kaye who told them that the owners of houses and farmland on which the runway might be built will qualify for the payment in return for agreeing to a handful of visits over about two years. It is a requirement of planning regulations that the wildlife reports are compiled so that creatures such as bats, badgers and newts facing the destruction of their habitat can be considered.
Perhaps the decision to offer a payment has come after residents showed they were less than keen to participate in surveys that would be used in the process of destroying their villages.
Roy Barwick, a Harmondsworth farmer whose family has lived in the area for generations, began making enquiries about whether Heathrow had any legal right to go onto his land for the surveys. He took legal advice and discovered that Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) has no right of entry.
Mr Barwick was worried that the wording on the Bulletin front page gave the impression that because visits may be “required”, it would be difficult for residents to refuse requests for access.
He suggested that if home and land owners have any problems should they say “no” to Heathrow, they can contact the legal department at Hillingdon Council.
As well as agricultural land, rivers must also be surveyed. Even major construction projects can suffer delays as a result of the findings of these surveys.
One last thought: The airport sent out 3,750 Bulletins just after the government’s announcement on 25th October that Heathrow was its preferred option for a runway.
Did they really need to send out another 3,750 Bulletins at the beginning of December to give a brief mention of surveys? Many residents are wondering if the more likely reason is that Heathrow wants to unsettle residents with repeated coverage of compensation.
Heathrow once promised regular public meetings but these would mean local people hear what is being said to all the other residents. HAL clearly prefers the one-to-one appointment, when they can quiz residents about their individual circumstances while not being entirely hones about their own plans – or the £1,000 “sweetener” to make them look good in the business media.