MORE than 800 homeowners have signed up with surveyors to seek compensation if Southend Airport’s expansion has devalued their homes.
And a group formed to share information on claims, named the Compensation Group, has more than 200 members, with more reportedly joining daily.
Graham Whitehead, chairman of anti-airport group Stop Airport Expansion and Noise, which has a separate committee from the Compensation Group but pays its administration costs, said: “I’m very happy for the numbers to be this high because it vindicates what we’ve been saying all along – that this is going to impact negatively on property values.
“The fact that surveyors will take on these claims, which will cost money to pursue, suggests they believe compensation is a possibility.”
Three surveyors are offering to value people’s homes and seek compensation under the Land Compensation Act if it turns out they have been affected by the increase in air traffic.
Westcliff-based chartered surveyor Michael Marriott has more than 500 clients, Cardiff-based surveyors Carrick and Co have more than 300 and chartered surveyor Chris Hunt, of Hunt Scott, Dorking, has about 60.
Mr Marriott, who spoke at a meeting organised by SAEN that launched the Compensation Group in September, said clients have reported an increase in nuisance from noise, smell, fumes and flights at unsocial hours since the runway was extended in March and are concerned the nuisance will intensify as the airport operator succeeds in establishing increasing numbers of flights and carriers, some with larger planes.
But he warned: “Only after all the evidence is received and considered will it become clear if any compensation is due.
“Post runway extension noise readings and all other evidence in the public domain will be considered next year. Claims will be made next year, where after discussions with the airport operator will be sought.”
Claimants will have to prove their home has been devalued by noise, vibration, dust, smell, light pollution, discharge or fumes. Claims must be submitted within a year of completion of the runway extension, on March 8.
If surveyors and the airport cannot agree on a valuation, claimants will be able to take their cases to court.
Alistair Welch, managing director of the airport, said: “People who believe they are impacted by the development of London Southend Airport are entitled to make a claim one year from when the development was finished “When these claims are made, there will be a detailed and thorough assessment over a period of time that will evaluate a number of factors.
“However previous cases over similar developments have shown this work may take a considerable number of years to complete. If there are any claims that are proved, then we would certainly meet our responsibilities.
“As always, we advise local residents to carefully check the companies who they are planning to represent them in any action.”
To join the compensation group, visit www.saen.org.uk.