There is no disguising the scale of the blow administered to the windfarm lobby by a ruling obtained by a Furness couple that their house had been severely devalued by being sited in the shadow of a couple of the turbines.
The case was a complex one and the damage to the windfarm industry was a tangential one.
The judge did not rule that existing property owners could expect compensation for having their lives blighted by the visual, sound or strobe lighting intrusion produced by the turbines.
Rather he pronounced that a couple who sold the house to the present owners should have told them about the plans for the wind turbine, which he says undoubtedly did reduce the value of the property.
Whatever happened to the legal truism “emptor caveat” or “buyer, beware”?
But despite the specific nature of the ruling, it still comes as a further setback for those who want to persuade the public that this totally renewable form of energy is the right one for the future of the planet.
House price sensitivities have become almost a cliche of British attitudes. If Napoleon Bonaparte’s jibe that we are a nation of shopkeepers is a little out of date, with all it implied about the Little Englander mentality, then it could easily be replaced by one about us being a nation of house owners.
There is no better way of turning public opinion against any group or activity than by saying it will be detrimental to house prices.
That was why the wind farm industry itself complained to the advertising standards authority about protesters implying that windfarms did just that.
Now they admit they may have to re-think their campaign in light of this Ireleth couple’s case.
It has not been a good week for windfarms, with the Lake District National Park Authority raising an objection to the projected turbines at Whinash with the Department of Trade and Industry.
Environment guru Dr David Bellamy also poured scorn on the industry’s claim to be the answer for those wanting a green future.
The tiny amount of energy produced by each turbine, and his view that if the wind doesn’t blow then you still need the nuclear, gas and coal driven alternatives as back-up, seriously undermine the green credentials of windfarms.
If they also significantly diminish the value of homes, then public opinion, currently pretty evenly split, will start to be blown away completely.
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