This is the reply one of our members received after querying the impact on house prices following the building of a Wind Turbine close by.
Is it any wonder we have lost faith in our Government?
Thank you for your email dated 20 January sent using the GOV.UK website, about wind turbines. I have been asked to reply.
We need to move from finite, high-carbon fossil fuels to clean, secure energy. The UK faces an unprecedented energy challenge- we must replace around a fifth of our existing electricity generation over the next decade – and as such we need to call on all the tools at our disposal to keep the lights on. This means having a balanced energy policy, comprising a mix of nuclear, fossil fuels with carbon capture, and a major roll out of renewables. As well as onshore wind, we want to see large expansions in both offshore wind and sustainable bio energy.
Onshore wind is one of the more cost-effective and established renewable technologies so it makes sense to use it. Studies indicate that the UK has one of the best wind resources in Europe, and of course the wind itself is a free and unlimited source of fuel, so it protects consumers against the volatile but generally increasing cost of fossil fuels. It’s also reliable, with the likelihood of low wind speeds affecting 50% of the country occurring less than 100 hours per year. The chance of turbines shutting down due to very high wind speeds is very low.
It is the Governments’ views that the evidence of the impact on property prices of the presence of a wind farm is mixed. Any development may have a negative impact on the value of adjacent property (although we have yet to see compelling evidence that there is a general fall in property prices around onshore wind farms that is caused by the presence of the wind farms). But in itself, that does not mean that a planning authority was wrong to allow it, or that the developer should be required to compensate the owners of such property.
Studies by the Berkeley National Laboratory (2009) and the UK Centre for Sustainable Energy (2011) found no conclusive evidence that house prices have been affected by wind farm development.
The US Government funded a study by the Berkeley National Laboratory in 2009 and 2013 to look at the impact of wind turbines on property prices. A link to that research can be found here: http://newscenter.lbl.gov/news-releases/2013/08/27/no-evidence-of-residential-property-value-impacts-near-u-s-wind-turbines-a-new-berkeley-lab-study-finds/.
The study found no conclusive evidence that wind turbines have an overall negative impact on property values, although there could be a link in some individual cases, it concluded:
“Specifically, neither the view of the wind facilities nor the distance of the home to those facilities is found to have any consistent, measurable, and statistically significant effect on home sales prices.”
Although there have been claims of significant property value impacts near operating wind turbines that regularly surface in the press or in local communities, strong evidence to support those claims has failed to materialize in all of the major U.S. studies conducted thus so far.
The UK Centre for Sustainable Energy (2011) found no conclusive evidence that house prices have been affected by wind farm development. A link to that evidence can be found at http://www.cse.org.uk/downloads/file/common_concerns_about_wind_power.pdf.
This report by the Centre for Sustainable Energy in May 2011, reviewed studies from around the world and concluded that these show that there is no devaluation in property prices nearby once a wind farm is operating. It suggested that fears are driven largely by the “anticipation stigma” found to exist during the planning and construction of wind farms, often bearing little relation to the actual community opinion or local property markets.
Any development may have a negative impact on the value of adjacent property (although we have yet to see compelling evidence that there is a general fall in property prices around onshore wind farms that is caused by the presence of the wind farms). But in itself, that does not mean that a planning authority was wrong to allow it, or that the developer should be required to compensate the owners of such property.
As a matter of planning law, impacts on property values are only to be taken into account in so far as they may provide evidence of the potential loss of amenity involved in a proposed development, which is a material consideration in relation to a decision to grant or refuse planning permission. In the case of wind farms, what needs to be assessed therefore are the potential landscape / visual and noise impacts.
The operation of the development control system means that, up to a point, a person who has purchased a property has to accept some disruption and inconvenience, or even loss, which may be caused by the lawful activities of another. The planning system does not exist to protect the private interests of one person against those of another, although the protection of individual interests is an important aspect of the public interest as a whole and private interests may coincide with public interests in some cases. Lawful development may take place which does give rise to some loss of amenity. The basic issue is whether a proposal would unacceptably affect amenities and the existing use of land and buildings which ought to be protected in the public interest. Where such matters are material considerations, they must be taken into account at an inquiry and weighed against the merits of the proposed development.
I hope that this is helpful.