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Sunday, September 9, 2007

Panel will negotiate with residents over noise

Homeowners, AOT, ministry, lawyers will hammer out a deal

The Transport Ministry will form a tripartite committee to negotiate with residents affected by noise pollution caused by aircraft taking off and landing at Suvarnabhumi airport. Deputy Transport Minister Sansern Wongcha-um said the committee will comprise residents, the Airports of Thailand and the Transport Ministry and a team of lawyers.

The panel will act as a go-between in negotiating with residents for solutions, he said.

The panel was seen as a move to appease residents who threatened to block entrances to the airport today in protest at the sluggish mitigation process.

He said he would take the proposal to a joint meeting of the ministry and the AoT tomorrow.

The meeting will assess the operations of Suvarnabhumi airport which will mark its first anniversary on Sept 29.

Educational institutions or other agencies will be hired to find out exactly how many people have been afflicted by aircraft noise. A team of psychiatrists will also be sent to help residents.

Sansern: Too few officials

Mr Sansern said the process of providing assistance to residents had been slow because residents suffering from the noise pollution had outnumbered officials assigned to negotiate with them.

There were currently only five AoT officials engaged in holding talks with residents, he said, adding that the state had struck deals with only nine residents so far.

He also attributed the slow progress to the lack of clear information on noise levels around the airport and the precise number of residents suffering from noise pollution.

Mr Sansern said he had floated the idea of the three-party panel to residents and they agreed with the proposal.

He told the AoT to take steps to buy strips of land at both ends of the airport for development for aviation-related business, since those areas are unfit for human settlement, he said.

Representatives of 32 housing estates affected by the noise pollution yesterday distributed leaflets calling on residents to join a rally which will be held today.

They threatened to proceed to Suvarnabhumi and block its entrance to pressure the government to consider their demands.

Prasert Boonkaew, a community leader, said residents disagreed with the AoT's proposal that it negotiate with residents at the end of the month.

He said the transport ministry's committee on compensation reached a preliminary agreement with residents last Tuesday.

The committee agreed to ask the AoT board to review its resolution on payments of compensation, as demanded by residents

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