Angry householders have filed over two hundred lawsuits against Manchester Airport, claiming that low-flying planes have destroyed the local property market, slashing thousands from house prices, and filling the air with oily smog.
Residents of Wythenshawe, a large housing estate in southern Manchester, have made compensation claims amounting to £9m over the last six years, each one in response to the opening of a second runway at the airport.
The estate, widely known for its portrayal in the Channel 4 sitcom, “Shameless”, is home to a number of luxury bungalows, some of which have lost more than a quarter of their original value.
Manchester’s second runway is no stranger to controversy. In 1999, before the airport was officially opened, an eco-warrior named ‘Swampy’ staged an underground protest to draw attention to the plight of two National Trust forests near the runway.
However futile, Swampy’s spirited defence of Mother Nature drew the admiration of eco-warriors up and down the country. Authorities were not amused, and in October, all the remaining protesters were flushed out, plucked from the trees and sent home.
Since then, low-flying planes have caused more than headaches for Wythenshawe resident, Chris O’Donovan – “the noise is incredible. The reverberations can break light bulbs in the house. Whenever an aircraft takes off we get an appalling smell of aviation fuel. You can actually feel it in the back of your throat.”
Manchester Airport has disputed the case, and has warned that it will not be badgered into doling out hefty compensation packages. The Lands Tribunal (a legal entity charged with resolving disputes over land) will oversee any prospective lawsuits.