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Southend Airport compensation claims could take years, bosses warn
10:00am Wednesday 3rd October 2012 in News
COMPENSATION has been promised to anyone who can prove their home has been devalued by Southend Airport, but its boss warned it would be a long fight.
Alastair Welch, the airport’s managing director, said he would be happy to meet his legal “responsibilities” if residents could provide strong evidence of a fall in property prices.
But he warned the situation in Southend was different to other airports which have been redeveloped and pointed out any decisions might be years away.
He said: “There are a number of people going around saying that people will be entitled to huge amounts of compensation, but all that we know is that it’s far too early to say that.
“People who believe they are impacted are entitled to make a claim one year from when the development was finished.
“When the claims are made, there will be a detailed and thorough assessment over a period of time that will assess a number of factors.”
After buying Southend Airport in 2008, Stobart Group secured planning permission for complete overhaul of its facilities.
The haulage firm ploughed more than £100million into a new terminal, control tower and railway station to attract airlines such as easyJet to the town.
But it was the decision to extend the runway - a move which was necessary to allow more modern jets to fly from the airport - which has also opened up the possibility of compensation claims.
Residents who are able to prove their property has been devalued since the extended runway came into use in April might be able to force Stobart to pay the difference, plus legal costs.
Manchester Airport has paid out £5million to more than 300 claimants who showed they had been affected by the opening of a second runway in 2001.
But Mr Welch pointed out that, rather than an increase, the number of flights leaving and arriving in Southend was actually less than half the 110,000-a-year in the airport’s 1980s heyday.
He said: “All the data and assessment shows that there were both many more movements per year in the past than we will be allowed in the future, and the aircraft were much noisier than the aircraft are today and will be in the future.”
The airport’s planning permission already obliges it to pay for double glazing or noise insulation in homes which fall within a certain radius around its runway.
Mr Welch said the number of properties which qualified was small, but he was still prepared to listen to any claims which could be backed up with strong evidence.
He added: “If there are any claims that are valued, we would meet our responsibility. “As an owner of infrastructure, we are aware of the legal framework.”
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