Heathrow offering £1000 for local survey visits
If you received Heathrow's latest newsletter, Bulletin December 2016 issue, you are in the area that is likely to be severely impacted by a third runway and subject to various surveys - which could earn you a £1,000 payment from the airport.
Charles Burke of Colnbrook Community Association has spotted an interesting article on Bloomberg, a business news website, that claims "Heathrow Airport Limited will offer hundreds of homeowners a £1,000 ($1,200) festive sweetener to participate in environmental studies vital to expediting planning for its controversial 16 billion-pound third runway."
It is however very odd that the Bulletin sent out last week, which mentions the surveys, makes no mention of any payment for residents who co-operate. The surveys, and the imminent delivery of the Bulletin, were mentioned at the Local Focus Forum on 6th December attended by representatives from the areas around Heathrow. The Chief Executive of Heathrow, John Holland-Kaye had even attended the beginning of that meeting and failed to mention the offer to pay residents for access to their properties.
Yet Bloomfield reports that it was Mr Holland-Kaye who told them that the owners of houses and farmland on which the runway might be built will qualify for the payment in return for agreeing to a handful of visits over about two years. It is a requirement of planning regulations that the wildlife reports are compiled so that creatures such as bats, badgers and newts facing the destruction of their habitat can be considered.
Perhaps the decision to offer a payment has come after residents showed they were less than keen to participate in surveys that would be used in the process of destroying their villages.
A local resident whose family has lived in the area for generations, has made enquiries about whether Heathrow had any legal right to go onto their land for the surveys. The resident found, on taking legal advice, that Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) has no right of entry. The resident believes the wording on the Bulletin front page gave the impression that because visits may be "required", it would be difficult for residents to refuse requests for access. If home and land owners have any problems should they say "no" to Heathrow, they can contact the legal department at Hillingdon Council.
As well as agricultural land, rivers must also be surveyed. Even major construction projects can suffer delays as a result of the findings of these surveys.
One last thought: The airport sent out 3,750 Bulletins just after the government's announcement on 25th October that Heathrow was its preferred option for a runway. Did they really need to send out another 3,750 Bulletins at the beginning of December to give a brief mention of surveys? Many residents are wondering if the more likely reason is that Heathrow wants to unsettle residents with repeated coverage of compensation.
Heathrow once promised regular public meetings but these would mean local people hear what is being said to all the other residents. HAL clearly prefers the one-to-one appointment, when they can quiz residents about their individual circumstances while not being entirely honest about their own plans - or the £1,000 "sweetener" to make them look good in the business media.