8th December 2005

High Court hearing for Takeley Parish Council airport blight challenge

Diary Date and Photo-call Notice for Tuesday 13 December 2005

The Permission Hearing at the High Court, The Strand, London WC2 for Takeley Parish Council’s application for Judicial Review of the proposed compensation scheme for people affected by generalised blight resulting from airport expansion plans at Stansted takes place on Tuesday 13 December. It is expected to start at 10.30am. The claimants will pose for photographs outside the High Court at 9.45am.

Members of Takeley Parish Council which is leading the challenge against BAA and the Government will be travelling from Stansted to the High Court to attend the hearing by minibus. This will depart from the Silver Jubilee Hall, Takeley, at 7.30am. Local journalists wishing to join them or to take photographs should make contact in advance (see below) to reserve a seat. The Parish Council will be accompanied by members of other nearby parish councils which have also backed the scheme.

The permission hearing will be held just days after the announcement (on 9 December) by BAA of its preferred siting for a second Stansted runway. This is not expected to make a material difference to the Takeley claim for Judicial Review. The hearing is likely to last half a day and it is possible that a ruling on whether or not the claim will be allowed to proceed to judicial review will be given the same day.

BACKGROUND

At it stands, the Air Transport White Paper calls on the airport operator to put in place a voluntary rather than a statutory scheme to address the problem resulting from its runway proposal. However, BAA has produced a woefully inadequate response applicable to just 500 homes in the immediate vicinity of the airport. Even then, those few who qualify are required to bear the first 15% of any property devaluation themselves and to meet their own relocation costs. A more realistic estimate of the number of homes affected is 12,000, largely across the southern half of Uttlesford according to analysis of Land Registry statistics which also reveal that the overall impact upon home values in the District has been around £600 million.

The objective of Takeley legal action is to force BAA to replace the existing HOSS with a scheme which properly fulfils the requirements of the White Paper by offering protection to all those affected by generalised blight and not merely a select few whose homes are sited within an arbitrarily applied noise contour with no reference to the reality of the suffering being encountered.

The arguments to be presented by the barristers acting for the parish council will focus on the failure of the Government to act in accordance with its obligations under the Arhuus Convention by endorsing the HOSS when it clearly fails to address the full extent of generalised blight (as required by the White Paper) which expansion proposals have caused. It is incompatible with the Secretary of State’s duty for him to support the construction of a new runway while endorsing or validating a scheme which fails to provide adequate protection to those affected, say the claimants.

Takeley Parish Council is also seeking a Protective Costs Order to limit the community’s exposure to the costs being sought by BAA which have already been ruled by the Court as “disproportionate” and “grossly excessive” and to limit future costs in the event of permission being granted for Judicial Review to enable the Parish Council and its partners to budget in advance for a fixed exposure to costs.

ENDS

Campaigning against proposals to expand Stansted Airport