If the value of your home has been affected by noise or other environmental impacts arising from a major public infrastructure project, a specialist lawyer will see to it that you are fairly compensated. An Upper Tribunal (UT) ruling in the case of an airport runway extension provided a prime example of how the system works.
The case concerned an extension to a regional airport’s runway which rendered it capable of taking larger aircraft and thus more attractive to budget airlines. As a result of the extension, the number of passengers using the airport was, over a 10-year period, expected to rise from 50,000 to two million annually. Lawyers representing 190 current and former owners of homes in the airport’s vicinity sought compensation on their behalf under the Land Compensation Act 1973.
Given the number of claims, and in order to make the litigation manageable, the UT considered 10 representative properties of varying value and at varying distances from the airport. It did so with a view to establishing points of principle that could be used in evaluating all the homeowners’ claims.
On the basis of expert noise and property valuation evidence, together with tribunal members’ observations during site visits, the UT rejected the airport operator’s plea that increased aircraft noise had caused no reduction in the value of the properties. In reaching that conclusion, the UT also relied on its own general experience of how property markets respond to deteriorating environmental factors.
The compensation claims were in some respects inconsistent or too high in absolute terms. There was also no basis on which awards could be made to reflect projected future intensification of the airport’s use. The UT nevertheless found that all but one of the properties had suffered a real diminution in value due to the runway extension. Compensation was assessed at sums ranging from £4,000 to £15,000.