THOUSANDS of people may get compensation payouts for living beneath the flightpath of an expanded Southend Airport, it has been claimed.

Residents across Leigh have been sent letters from chartered surveyor Michael Marriott telling them their homes may have lost value as a result of the airport’s runway extension.

The extension, which was completed earlier this year, allows larger aircraft, such as those operated by budget airline easyJet, to use the airport as a base to fly to scores of European destinations.

The first easyJet flights to Belfast, Barcelona and Amsterdam took off using the extended runway last week, and it is expected the airport will have up to 70 flights a week.

The letter states: “The value of your property may be depreciated due to the extension of the runway at the London Southend Airport. You are entitled to claim compensation due to the use of the airport, so long as you are the owner of the property.”

It also points out residents are entitled to free representation.

Caroline Parker, a Leigh town councillor, believes residents should be entitled to compensation as she has been told her home could lose £25,000 in value due to the airport.

She said: “When I moved here three years ago, I didn’t know my house was under the flightpath.

“If I had known I probably would not have moved there.

“I was delighted when the letter came through the door, because it is something I am concerned about and I believe we should claim compensation.”

Roy Viney, 74, of Tankerville Drive, Leigh, who has lived beneath the flightpath of the airport for 46 years, said he hadn’t noticed an increase in noise or disruption since the new flights began. But he said he might be tempted to claim compensation. He said: “It never occurred to us to claim compensation but if we can get some we might go for it.”

Pat Seago, from the same street, said: “When I moved here six years ago, I had no idea it was under the flightpath.

“The planes can fly very low, and when they do it is so noisy in the house. I would consider finding out more about compensation, because you don’t invest in a house and then expect it to devalue.”

Chartered surveyor Michael Marriott said: “We do not know at this stage if any devaluation will be caused.

“Once all the information is collated, including noise statistics, which are expected to be taken later this year, a clearer picture will emerge on the likelihood of a compensation payment.

“You are only able to claim for nuisances arising from the use of the airport due to the runway extension, which relate to noise, vibration, smell, fumes, smoke, artificial lighting and discharge of any substances on to your land.”