Health trust to sue Heathrow over expansion

21.10.2008   (Evening Standard)

Benedict Moore-Bridger


A HEALTHCARE trust has threatened to claim millions of pounds in compensation
from BAA if a third runway at Heathrow goes ahead, leaked documents reveal today.

Minutes from an internal board meeting show how Hounslow Primary Care Trust has
objected to the proposals for expansion, claiming an increase in activity would
put an undue burden on their resources.

The Trust said if the plans went ahead it would work with the local council and
the NHS to push for the compensation as a result of illnesses caused by increased
airport activity.

The PCT cited increases in asthma, mental health problems and even a rise in
the death toll and hospital admissions for people with existing heart and respiratory
problems because of airport noise and pollution.

Other problems included added pressure on local health services from an increase
in passengers, it was claimed.

The money could be used for soundproofing buildings and monitoring pollution
levels and help towards the extra strain on services.
see also
Hounslow health chiefs plan Heathrow comp bid
22.10.2008     (Hounslow Chronicle)
By Robert Cumber

Heathrow’s  owners could be sued for millions  of pounds in compensation by Hounslow
health chiefs amid claims a third runway would seriously damage the well-being
of residents living nearby.

Board members at NHS Hounslow (formerly Hounslow PCT) have discussed how they
would seek the massive payout should BAA get the go-ahead to increase flights
by up to 50 per cent.

The trust says airport noise and pollution can cause asthma and mental health
problems as well as lowering life expectancy for those with existing heart and
respiratory problems.

In the minutes of a board meeting held earlier this year, members discussed how
they would work with Hounslow Council and the NHS to push for compensation from
BAA Heathrow for the increased workload.

“There would be increased financial pressures on the PCT and added strain on
health services from the direct effects of the development and from the increased
numbers of airport passengers using the local NHS,” said the trust’s former chief
executive John James. “Should the development proceed we would expect it to be
on condition that the impact on local health and well-being was monitored so additional
remedial action could take place if needed, and the costs from doing so were met
by the airport operators.”

NHS Hounslow, which began the year £22 million in the red and has been given
three years to pay off its historic debt, added that BAA could face similar claims
from eight other trusts lying under the flight path.

A BAA spokesman said: “If the Government takes a policy decision to support future
growth at Heathrow, a full health impact assessment would be conducted as part
of any planning application.

“A third runway will not go ahead unless air quality is better than today and
there are improvements to public transport.

“This is not growth at any cost, this is growth within strict environmental limits.”
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