Heathrow's survey payments are no big deal
The payments offered to residents for taking part in Heathrow's surveys are likely to be far less than Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye's boasted to the Business press reported only days ago.
Bloomberg.com reported that Heathrow was offering a "sweetener" to local people, who are under threat from expansion, for taking part in surveys that are necessary for the airport to submit as part of the planning process. It sounded like Heathrow was trying to create an image of the airport as a generous benefactor, offering a £1000 bonus at Christmas "to do nothing".
Now we can report that not only are these payments not money for nothing, they are also nothing exceptional for a big company that wants planning permission for a large project. What residents should also note is that Heathrow's latest Bulletin, which was sent out to around 4000 homes very soon after the post-announcement edition, was supposed to have been published to inform residents about the surveys - it was on the front page. Yet no mention whatsoever was made of these payments. In addition, at a meeting for residents' representatives immediately before the Bulletin was distributed, there seems to have been no mention of payments and certainly no statement of what these payments might be. It's strange that no one at Heathrow noticed these omissions?
Was Heathrow hoping it could get away with repeatedly gaining access to the land or property, that it ultimately wants to flatten, without any compensation for the people occupying or owning it? Maybe some people would have offered access without realising they were entitled to a payment? Our readers can be the judge. What is certain is that residents must not rely on Heathrow's Bulletin publications for information.
You may decide you don't want to give access to Heathrow for their surveys. If you decide that you will, are you really going to get £1000? Almost certainly not.
If you are in a residential property the only survey needed is likely to be for wildlife, such as bats in gardens or attics.
First of all you have to sign an access licence agreement, for a payment of £100.
Then, if you agree, you must sign and return the agreement to Heathrow within 6 weeks of receipt to get an additional £100.
Then, should Heathrow need to enter the property, you get £150 per visit.
So if you expect to get the £1000 that John Holland Kaye boasts about you must sign a document to show you agree, get it back to Heathrow within 6 weeks then hope (dread?) that you get a further 5 visits - although you will still be £50 short.
A Heathrow spokesperson has said that payments of this type are usual practice when gathering environmental data for large infrastructure projects e.g. M4 Smart Motorway, Thames Tideway Tunnel, HS2 etc. It is a payment to compensate for the inconvenience of having to intrude on peoples’ properties.
So don't be fooled into thinking that the payments to survey your property to enable them to compile reports needed for a planning application are made out of "generosity".
Remember, Chief executive John Holland-Kaye earned £2.06m last year, more than doubling his basic salary of £885,000. He could add even more to that should a third runway be approved as the company's annual report indicated that he would get a nice bonus if a third runway were approved.
No wonder the Heathrow Fat Cat is keen to persuade residents who live in fear of losing their homes to open their doors for third runway surveys.
Heathrow has said it will send letters to residents in the New Year.