London (Thomson Financial) - UK airport operator BAA has hit back at press reports claiming it is offering free noise insulation to more than 40,000 homes near London's Heathrow airport to soften opposition to the proposed building a third runway there.
Ferrovial-owned BAA said -- in a 2003 White Paper titled 'The Future of Air Transport' -- that the British government had asked airport operators to consult on details of voluntary schemes to address 'generalised blight' resulting from its policy conclusions for airport development.
It also asked airport operators to offer acoustic insulation to noise sensitive buildings such as schools and hospitals that are exposed to medium- to high-levels of aircraft noise and to offer home relocation assistance to households subject to high levels of aircraft noise.
"There are two schemes which have been put in place to mitigate the impacts of blight arising from a proposed third runway at Heathrow and two schemes which mitigate the impacts of current aircraft noise.
"The two blight compensation schemes will be triggered at the point at which BAA decides to apply for planning permission to build a third runway. The two noise compensation schemes are currently active and eligible properties and community buildings have been contacted directly about the schemes," BAA said in a statement sent to Thomson Financial News this afternoon.
In recent years BAA has established the Community Buildings Noise Insulation, Home Relocation Assistance and Home Owner Support schemes as well as a Property Market Support Bond, which protects local property values inside the expanded boundary of a potential three runway Heathrow.
Last month Britain's transport secretary, Ruth Kelly, published the consultation on increasing capacity at Heathrow. The closing date for responses to the consultation is Feb 27, 2008.
John Stewart of the Hacan Clear Skies campaign told the Guardian newspaper it was "suspicious that they [residents near Heathrow] are being offered help when a consultation comes out on the biggest-ever expansion of Heathrow".