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Q&A: wind farms and house prices  

Credit:  The Telegraph | www.telegraph.co.uk 22 July 2012 ~~

The Valuation Office Agency has accepted that living near a wind farm can reduce the value of your house. Here is what you need to know if a turbine is placed near to your home.

What are the main concerns about a turbine being placed near to a house?

Noise

Chief among the complaints about wind farms is that, when they are working, they generate a continuos swooshing sound as the blades are pushed around by the wind.

Worse still, the loudness and pitch of the noise varies depending on weather conditions, according to the Sunday Times, meaning it is harder for people living nearby to ignore.

Opponents say the persistent background noise can have a harmful effect on the health of people living nearby, with reported problems including the onset of stress and insomnia, though this is disputed by some scientists who say there is no firm evidence to support the claim.

Appearance

Wind turbines can measure several hundred feet in height, making them visible for miles and giving them the impression of looming over nearby communities.

Their aerodynamic design, with three long white blades standing atop a single thick white stalk, is certainly distinctive but is viewed by many as being less than attractive.

Tall objects also create long shadows. When the sun is low and sinks behind a turbine, particularly in high winds, it can create a fast-changing shadow effect similar to a strobe light as the blades rotate.

This flickering effect can be powerful enough to penetrate through domestic blinds and curtains, affecting the ambience of a bedroom or lounge.

Tremors

Some people who live very close to wind farms report that the turbines can cause window panes and doors to rattle, and make wooden floorboards vibrate.

But experts say the low-level vibrations are so slight that they are almost impossible to detect other than with sophisticated scientific equipment.

Similar scale vibrations occur as a result of traffic and background noise and are not solely produced by wind turbines, they add.

What can I do to stop them?

Firstly, lodge your objections to the planning application with the local authority. You will be able to view the application, plans and supporting documentation either on the local authority’s website or at its offices.

Where an application includes a wind turbine that is more than 15 metres or involves more than two turbines, the planning authority requires the application to be accompanied by an environmental statement. Safety concerns can arise if the turbine is near to a road or footpath, or high enough to pose a risk to aircraft. Any threat to wildlife, such as bird or bat populations, must also be taken into account.

You should consider the proximity of the wind turbines to your home. While in England there is no prescribed separation distance, noise limits suggest a minimum distance of 350 metres for a typical wind turbine. Scotland has guidance suggesting 2km and Wales suggests 500 metres between a wind turbine and housing.

If your neighbours share your concerns, then consider jointly instructing a planning expert to review planning policies and to prepare your objections.

You should also consider the title deeds to your property. Aside from the planning considerations, the company may be subject to covenants controlling how they enjoy their land. A solicitor specialising in property-related disputes will be able to help.

How do I get compensation?

Contact the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) who have already moved the council tax bands of homes in Devon.

Is there any way of ensuring land near to my home cannot be used for wind farms?

Except for buying it yourself, there is no way to guarantee that land will never be built on. The best alternative is to ascertain whether planning permission has been granted over the land or if it could be in the future.

Ask your solicitor for a planning search of the field, which will reveal any planning permissions submitted and whether they have been passed or rejected. They will also reveal the current designation of the land. For example, land classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest or a nature reserve is unlikely to be subject to planning permission in the future.

Your solicitor can also check whether the land is designated as “common land” or a “village green”. Such areas are unlikely to be granted planning permission.

Finally, have a brief chat with your local planning officer. They should be able to give you an indication as to whether the designation of the land will change in the future.

Source:  The Telegraph | www.telegraph.co.uk 22 July 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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