Precedent-setting ruling grants B-G airport’s neighbors compensation for devalued property.
By RON FRIEDMAN
People who live near Ben- Gurion Airport may still suffer from severe noise pollution, but perhaps they’ll be able to sleep a little better knowing they stand to receive compensation for their misery.In a precedent-setting ruling, the Tel Aviv District Court decided on Monday that the residents deserved compensation for the devaluation of their property following the airport’s expansion at the beginning of the decade. While the amount of compensation has yet to be set, the plaintiffs are asking for NIS 5 billion.District Court Judge Michal Agmon Gonen stated in her ruling that the convenience of the majority should not come at the expense of the few.“Life in the modern world, progress, brings with it technological developments that improve quality of life. However, technologies, like planes, introduce harsh environmental damages in the form of noise and air pollution,” said Agmon Gonen. “I believe it is time to recognize a human being’s right to live in a worthy environment.The well-being and quality of life of an individual depends on the environment in which he lives.... In light of the fact that the airport had to be expanded, it is wrong to place an increased economic burden on the shoulders of the residents of nearby locales.”The judge’s decision came in response to an appeal by the residents after they had been rebuffed by a district appeals committee. The plaintiffs, residents of Or Yehuda, Lod and Modi’in, filed claims with the district planning committee in the framework of the Housing and Construction Law, stating that noise pollution and proximity to the airport had reduced their property values.The committee rejected their claims, saying the property devaluations had been less than 5 percent and that noise hadn’t exceeded the maximum limits.Agmon Gonen overturned the decision, saying that noise pollution could be measured not only by its volume, but by its length and frequency.In response, the Israel Aviation Authority said it was studying the ruling and considering its options, including a possible appeal.“The IAA invests tens of millions of shekels in acoustic protection in the residential apartments and schools in the locales surrounding the airport,” the government body said. “In addition, the IAA has adopted the most advanced noise protection standards in the world, as is customary in the West.”The IAA added that airports were “substantial agents of economic growth” for the surrounding area, and cited “financial reasons” for a “worldwide phenomenon of urban sprawl toward airports.”“It should be emphasized that the property value of apartments in locales surrounding Ben-Gurion Airport has increased substantially in places like Shoham, Yehud, Beit Dagan, Mishmar Hashiva and others,” it said. “It should also be remembered that Ben-Gurion Airport was built in 1936, before the establishment of the state, in the heart of an empty region. Since then, cities have spread closer to it, knowing full well the consequences of the move.
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