PEOPLE living near Heathrow Airport face a lottery over their futures as they decide whether to sell their homes at cut-price or wait for possible compensation.

Nearly all want to be offered now the 2002 market price for houses which will have to be knocked down or remain in an area which will suffer extra noise if a third runway is built.

But this was not one of the options announced last week in a consultation document going out to homes in the area. BAA says they will have to wait until planning permission is put in for a third runway, which may not happen for years.

Residents believe the packages on offer will condemn them to stay put, as buyers will only pay reduced prices because of the threat of the third runway.

Paul Buttivant, who runs the website  and lives in Harmondsworth said: “Many people in the Heathrow area are fed-up waiting for a definitive answer on the runway and want to leave now.

“It could be five years until the announcement is made and in this time BAA is effectively stifling housing, as mortgage lenders will be reluctant to deal with buyers and developers will be put off by the blight.

“People who really want to leave are faced with the impossible situation of selling their home for 30-40 per cent less than it’s really worth.”

BAA is offering residents two compensation packages, depending on whether their house will be knocked down or suffer extra noise:

Residents whose houses will have to be demolished if a new runway is built, will be offered what their homes were worth before plans for a third runway were announced in 2002. An extra 10 per cent would be awarded once planning permission is given.

Residents who will suffer extra noise if a third runway is built, will be offered 2002 values by BAA once permission for the runway is given.

John Stewart, of protest group Hacan, which fights airport noise, called the proposals generous, but cynical.

BAA’s chief executive Mike Clasper said: “Through these schemes we aim to be a good neighbour and retain the support of our communities.”

BAA spokeswoman Vanessa  Finnean confirmed the consultation will last until December 21 and the final details of where the third runway will be built be available early next year.

Copies of the consultation document, which have been sent out to between 10,000-13,000 homes surrounding the airport, can be viewed on the BAA website