11th September 2013
Airports Commission urged to provide safeguards for local communities
Joint letter from airport campaign groups
Stop Expansion (‘SSE’) is one of seven airport campaign groups who have joined forces in writing to Sir Howard Davies, Chairman of the Airports Commission, calling upon him to safeguard local residents against airport-related blight.
The Commission is due to produce an interim report at the end of this year and, if it concludes that the UK needs more airport capacity, it will publish a short-list of options. The Commission’s final report won’t be published until mid-2015, after the next general election and it will then be for the Government of the day to take any final decisions.
Brian Ross, SSE Economics Adviser said: “We know from past experience that, as soon as any short-list of airport expansion options is published, every single area on that short-list will be hit by generalised blight and local residents will experience not only stress and anxiety, but immediate difficulties in selling their homes.”
Brian Ross added: “The UK already has more than enough airport capacity but Sir Howard Davies has opened a Pandora’s Box by inviting airport expansion proposals from all and sundry. As soon as he publishes his short-list, local communities will be blighted for years, even if no new runways are ever built.”
The last time that Stansted was short-listed for major expansion, in 2002, £570 million was wiped off local house prices in the first 18 months of the threat, affecting an area of about 150 square miles. There is now the prospect of history repeating itself.
The aviation industry mostly agrees that the UK could justify only one additional runway over the next 25 years. Thus, if a handful of options are short-listed, most of the areas which will be blighted will have been blighted unnecessarily. And yet those who have submitted proposals to Sir Howard Davies, whether for expansion of existing airports or for totally new airports, have not so far been asked to pay a single penny towards addressing the problems and costs of blight that their proposals will cause.
The campaigners’ letter to Sir Howard Davies asks him “to make it a pre-condition for being short-listed for the promoter of an airport development proposal to undertake to introduce fair and reasonable arrangements to address the problem of generalised blight arising from their proposal within three months of being short-listed and to operate such arrangements for a minimum period of two years.”
Mr Ross concluded: “Those who are promoting airport expansion projects must take some responsibility for the consequences. They cannot simply be allowed to dine out for free on their airport expansion dreams, leaving local residents to pick up the tab.”
The letter to Sir Howard Davies has been sent by campaigners representing communities around Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Birmingham and Bristol airports as well as communities threatened by proposed new airports in the Thames and Severn estuaries.