Airport compensation claims tribunal on the horizonBy Jack Sommers
January 11, 2010
FARNBOROUGH Airport owner TAG could be in court within three months to answer the claims of hundreds of residents who say arriving and departing flights have damaged their house prices.
People from more than 250 homes in Farnborough, Mytchett and Church Crookham have filed claims for compensation with the Lands Tribunal, which has said it wants to look at the matter within 12 weeks.
They say TAG turning the Ministry of Defence (MoD) airfield into a private airport means they are entitled to compensation for loss in house value.
Compensation for new developments is provided under the Land Compensation Act.
But TAG has argued for years that it is not liable because it was not ‘in occupation’ of the airport when the construction was carried out.
The MoD was in occupation when the runway was lengthened and new terminal and control tower built, it said.
TAG said this meant the act did not apply in its case.
In 2002, TAG said the act did apply and asked residents interested in claiming to write in so it could investigate.
But it then reversed that stance and adopted the position it has held ever since.
The argument has continued though, with residents having to pay a QC to look into the law of the case and advise them.
They are understood to have obtained evidence about TAG’s position on the issue early in the company's involvement in developing the airfield.
The residents’ decision to try to claim compensation comes after years of argument and analysis by lawyers for both sides.
Chris Hunt, a chartered surveyor who filed the claims for the residents, said the number involved was about a third of the homes affected.
Only people who were living in their homes before January 1, 2003 were able to claim.
The date for a tribunal is not definite as either side can ask for more time to prepare its case.
Mr Hunt conducted a survey of house prices and said he found evidence that the airport had reduced those under or near the flight path.
He was reluctant to say by how much, or what evidence would be presented for fear of prejudicing the residents’ case.
He said there had been a flurry of around 50 claims filed near the end of December, just before the January 1 deadline.
Any tribunal would initally only look at one of the cases. It would take place in London and last for a few days.
TAG has declined to comment on the compensation issue since the claims were filed.