14th March 2005
Takeley renews claim for Judicial Review of airport compensation scheme
Press release issued on behalf of Takeley Parish Council
Takeley Parish Council has applied to the High Court for an oral hearing to consider its application for Judicial Review of the BAA compensation scheme relating to generalised blight around Stansted which has resulted from airport expansion proposals and the publication of the Air Transport White Paper.
If successful at the oral hearing for which no date has yet been given, Takeley Parish Council will then be allowed to proceed to full Judicial Review of BAA’s Home Owner Support Scheme (HOSS).
The application follows the court’s initial refusal to allow the original claim to proceed based on a perceived illogicality in asking the legal system to compel changes to what it saw as a voluntary compensation scheme.
However, barristers for Takeley Parish Council which is aiming to secure an extension to the HOSS to the wider catchment affected by generalised blight some 12,000 homes compared with the 500 covered by BAA’s Home Owner Support Scheme say that to focus on the voluntary nature of the code is to ignore the reality of the case. They have therefore asked for the opportunity to put their grounds for application to the High Court in person.
Charles George QC and James Pereira, acting for claimants Takeley Parish Council, Trevor Allen and Michael Mew, make clear in the Grounds for Renewal of Application for Judicial Review submitted to the High Court on Friday (11 March 2005) that in order for BAA to acquire consent to the runway it will be required to comply with Government policy. This in turn requires the airport developer to adopt a compensation scheme that meets the requirements of the White Paper. If BAA fails to do so, there is no real prospect of the runway being approved.
It follows, say the parish council’s legal advisers, that in practice the adoption of a compensation code is not optional, but an essential requirement if the runway is to proceed. If the existing code were quashed, there are only two possible consequences. Either a lawful code will be adopted so that the generalised blight caused by the runway proposal can be compensated. Or no code will be adopted, the runway proposals will not proceed and the blight will subside. Neither consequence is illogical. Both have a real practical value for the claimants and others whose property is currently blighted.
BAA has so far sought to minimise compensation payments by refusing to entertain claims from home-owners whose properties lie outside a very tightly defined 66 dBA Leq (decibel) noise contour, despite clear evidence of property blight over a much wider area. Many householders beyond the HOSS perimeter have been unable to sell their homes despite repeated viewings because of fears about the impacts of airport expansion amongst prospective purchasers. Latest Land Registry statistics for example, show that the volume of property sales in the vicinity of the airport is at its lowest level for 14 quarters.
Takeley Parish Council has been spearheading the fight to extend the HOSS to ensure the needs of its own parishioners are addressed as well as those of people from other communities who are suffering from exclusion from the scheme. Financial support from a number of other affected parishes towards the legal challenge has already been forthcoming, with further offers of help expected.
Trevor Allen, Takeley Parish Council Chairman, made clear that his parish would continue to do everything in its power to secure an extension of the compensation scheme to those who were affected by generalised blight.
“It is wholly unacceptable for BAA to crow with delight at the prospect of having to compensate a mere scattering of families when it is patently clear that thousands more are affected by the company’s self-interested plans. I’ m surprised that Stansted Airport’s management can sleep at night when their firm’s selfishness is causing such hardship and anxiety to so many local people. BAA’s actions are clearly out of step with those of a company which takes its responsibility to the community seriously.”