12th July 2016
SSE tells Stansted Airport to publish its evidence
and accuses airport of seeking to evade its responsibility to compensate local residents
Following the publication by Stansted Airport Ltd (STAL) last week of the process it will adopt to deal with long overdue compensation payments for local residents, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has accused STAL of unreasonably seeking to deter thousands of local residents who may well have a valid compensation claim, from even submitting a claim.
As part of its ‘Guide to Residents’ on submitting compensation claims, STAL has published a map which shows an incredibly small ‘eligibility area’ – with no explanation as to the basis for this. See mag-umbraco-media-live.s3.amazonaws.com/1005/guide-to-residents.pdf
There is absolutely no legal basis for STAL to restrict eligibility for compensation to a shaded area on a map. The law only requires claimants to demonstrate that the value of their property has been reduced by physical factors (noise, air pollution etc.) arising from the expansion of Stansted Airport which was enabled by the infrastructure added between 2001 and 2007 – the so-called Phase 2 development of Stansted.
Only a few hundred homes are within STAL’s eligibility area whereas evidence gathered by SSE in 2007 clearly indicates that many thousands of local homes lost a significant amount of their value (compared to the general movement in house prices) between 2001 and 2007 – i.e. at the time of the Phase 2 development of Stansted.
This expansion of Stansted’s taxiways, aircraft stands and runway infrastructure enabled the airport’s passenger throughput to triple in the space of the eight years leading up to 2007. To date, local residents have received no compensation for this.
Local residents have only ever received compensation for Stansted Airport’s expansion to 8 million passengers per annum (8mppa) in the 1990s – the so-called Phase 1 development of Stansted. At that time, compensation payments ranging from 2% to 20% of the value of their houses were paid to residents in Broxted, Burton End, Great and Little Hallingbury, and parts of Birchanger, Bishop’s Stortford, Elsenham, Hatfield Broad Oak, Hatfield Heath, Spellbrook, Takeley and Thaxted.
Stansted’s Phase 2 development from 2001 to 2007 enabled the airport to triple its throughput to 24mppa and STAL believes that the airport can achieve a throughput of 35mppa (possibly more) without any additional taxiways, aircraft stands or runway infrastructure. This throughput would be more than four times the 8mppa throughput for which compensation has been paid to date.
SSE’s evidence – based on the official Land Registry statistics – shows significant house price depreciation in areas far beyond the shaded eligibility area on STAL’s map. There is evidence of house price depreciation in postcode sectors CM6 1, CM6 2, CM6 3, CM22 6, CM22 7, CM24 8 and CM23 5. That is not to say that all the properties in all of these postcode sectors experienced a loss in their relative value due to Stansted’s Phase 2 development. Nor is it to say that no property outside these postcode sectors was devalued by Stansted’s Phase 2 development.
SSE strongly recommends that individuals who believe they may have an entitlement to claim should not be deterred by STAL’s attempts to minimise the number of claimants, and they should take professional advice. It is not SSE’s role to advise which individual homes may be eligible for compensation and which may not. It is however very clear to SSE that STAL is seeking to be unreasonably restrictive with the eligibility area it has drawn on its map. STAL does not explain how it has arrived at this area and, as we have said, it has no legal basis.
SSE has written to STAL asking for the evidence it relied upon to define its eligibility area. The letter also asks STAL to explain and clarify a number of other restrictions attached to STAL’s compensation process with no apparent justification in law or otherwise.
SSE Chairman Peter Sanders commented: “It took the threat of legal action to force the airport to make a commitment to start dealing with these long overdue compensation payments for local residents. However, it’s already beginning to look like the airport’s management will need to be dragged every inch of the way to make these compensation arrangements fair and reasonable – and accessible – to all those local families who have a legitimate right to compensation.”
Peter Sanders concluded: “This has already gone on far too long. It’s time the airport stopped trying to evade its responsibilities and started behaving with some decency and integrity.”
See also SSE press release of 7 June 2016 here.
FURTHER INFORMATION AND COMMENT
Peter Sanders, SSE Chairman – 01799 520411; firstname.lastname@example.org
Brian Ross, SSE Deputy Chairman – 01279 814961; M 07850 937143; email@example.com
SSE Campaign Office – firstname.lastname@example.org