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Airport safety zones could lead to compensation claims
MORE homeowners under Southend Airport’s flightpath may be able to claim compensation if changes to safety zones are approved.
The Government wants to extend the areas under the flightpath where people are deemed to be at greater risk from aircraft taking off or landing.
Such a move would lead to restrictions on building work and development.
Southend Council could then have to pay homeowners compensation if it refused them planning permission for safety reasons.
It would then have to reclaim the cost from the airport’s operator.
One of the proposed public safety zones would extend south-west from the runway, across the Mendip Treecot estate and Blenheim Park, as far as Blenheim Primary School, restricting development, including expansion of the school.
The other would run northeast taking in a few homes in Southend Road, Rochford, and fields between Rochford and Purdeys Industrial Estate.
Civil Aviation Authority proposals, now out to consultation, mark out very tight, inner, higher- risk zones close to each end of the runway, where they calculate there is a theoretical one in 10,000 chance of people being at risk if there was a crash between now and 2027.
In these areas, the authority says it would normally expect airport operators to buy any properties and keep them empty.
However, at Southend, it says there are no such buildings.
A far wider area at each end of the runway is deemed to be in a lower-risk category, with a one in 100,000 chance of people being at risk.
An airport spokesman stressed: “The risk to those living, working or congregating in safety zones is still very low.
“The UK has an excellent air safety record, almost twice as good as the worldwide average.
“Even with the increase in air traffic in recent years, the number of worldwide accidents involving large commercial aircraft has approximately halved compared with 30 years ago.”
However, the Government is keen not to increase the number of people living, working or spending time in either type of public safety zone, aiming instead to reduce them if possible.
There is no automatic legal right to compensation, if planing permission is refused because of safety zones, but owners could qualify if another beneficial use for a site can be found.
A spokesman for Southend Council, which is responsible for Blenheim Primary School, said: “We are already aware of the existing limitations on building at the Blenheim site and will take them into account when considering any further development at the school.”
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