Would you be happy with a payout to put up with aircraft noise?

The role of the Liberal Democrats in ensuring that this Government does not agree to the expansion of Heathrow airport is emphasised by an article in yesterday’s Independent.

It says that a group of right wing Tories with links to the Chancellor are drawing up plans to offer compensation to local residents who would be affected by increased noise from a third runway at Heathrow.

The Coalition agreement has ruled out giving approval to a third runway during this parliament and the Conservatives opposed the move at the last election. But some senior party figures, including the Chancellor, George Osborne, are pressing for a change of policy to boost airport capacity in the south-east. The most likely option is that the issue will be left open in the next Tory manifesto.

The Free Enterprise Group of Conservative MPs, which has close links with Mr Osborne, has called for a noise compensation scheme as a way of bringing around families affected by the extra noise.

I just wonder how many residents would consider any amount of money as sufficient compensation for the disturbance to their lives, not to say the effect on the value of their homes.

You can see how the Tories, governing alone, would find it easy to overcome the opposition to expansion of Transport Secretary Justine Greening and a few voices in the Parliamentary Party. The presence of five Liberal Democrat Cabinet ministers backing up the Coalition Agreement puts paid to the idea that expansion could get the go ahead this Parliament.

I wonder how long it will be before A View from Ham Common speculates on Zac Goldsmith’s future within the Conservative Party again.

You can read the article in full here.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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11 Comments

  • Richard Dean 3rd Aug '12 - 12:47pm

    Yes, I might accept a tax-exempt lump-sum up front, to cover sound insulation for the entire house and garden, with a subsequent tax-exempt weekly payment equivalent to the minimum wage for each family member, continuing as long as we and the noise do.

    Is there evidence that airport capacity in the South-East needs to be boosted? And what about the North-West, North-East, Midlands, ….?

  • As someone living ten miles from Heathrow who is regularly kept awake till around 11.30pm by heavily laden jets taking off for the Far East, I would say they can take their payments and stick them where the sun doesn’t shine.

    Heathrow is in the wrong area, it blights the lives of millions of people across a huge swathe of West and South West London and it needs to be moved to somewhere where it can expand.

  • They should get free sound insulation on their roofs and free triple glazing., This is what other countries do. Heathrow has been there a long time, there are downsides for living nearby, but there are upsides too. I dont see why the rest of the country should be held to ransom just because it suits a handful of influential MPs. They should think themselves lucky they get some core hours of silence overnight, no such luck for those living near motorways.

  • David from Ealing 3rd Aug '12 - 5:25pm

    Yes, Simon, but that doesn’t mean that you have to put up with more and more.

  • I am always surprised that people move into the LHR flightpath and complain about the noise.
    But the third runway is different, in that it would increase the width of the noise corridor, so that people who thought they had bought a house outside the noise corridor would then find themselves in it. That is a more complex issue…

  • jenny barnes 3rd Aug '12 - 6:05pm

    I’ve been reading Michael Sandel’s book about the moral limits of markets – this reminds me of one of his examples. A swiss village area was selected as the optimum place for the storage of nuclear waste. Many of the villagers in the base case voted in favour of it – Sandel suggests that they saw it as part of their community responsibilities. However, when an incentive was offered, the percentage in favour went DOWN, not up. Presumably if participation can be bought, then there’s no need for the community.
    I would question the need for a 3rd runway; Dubai have a huge global hub airport in single sector range of most of Europe and Asia. If Britain needs a global hub it should build a proper one – I like the thames estuary idea, linked with Eurostar to CDG.

  • There is already a compensation scheme in place for new infrastructure, but it doesn’t apply to increased use, more traffic or bigger/noisier vehicles on an existing facility. The ‘buyer beware’ principle applies, and one is expected to assume that traffic volumes could increase. Anyway, the whole idea of ‘expanding Heathrow’ is all about getting those objectors to support the Boris Island idea… when neither is needed. We have dozens of redundant, or underused airfields in the south east, just need to pick one that would not upset too many neighbours, connect it to Heathrow/Gatwick with a maglev shuttle, and away you go..
    What about the idea of bringing Lyneham into civil use, the military have too many airfields now anyway.? Lyneham is on the M4 and the Paddington rail-line, they could put all the north American flights there, say.

  • This is the heart of the problem. The cost of compensating the residents is greater than the benefit of the runway. Unless the corporate interests can find a way of ensuring that they can do this without they or the government fully compensating the residents for t he harm they do it will not happen.

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