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Viking rules out windfarm property compensation fund

Viking Energy has ruled out a fund to compensate property owners if their houses fall in value due to the forthcoming windfarm.

The company said there was no evidence that windfarms cause a drop in house prices and it would be irresponsible of the company to get involved in effectively underwriting the Shetland property market.

Shetland Charitable Trust agreed in June to ask Viking to consider a compensation scheme for any houseowner wishing to move from the windfarm area who found their property devalued.

The request formed part of the trust’s agreement to invest a further £6.3 million in the windfarm project, which it has a 45 per cent stake in. It also agreed to commission its own independent assessment of any impact the 103-turbine development might have on people’s health.

But Viking chairman Bill Manson, who also chaired the trust until May, has killed off the idea of a compensation fund. In a letter to the new trust chairman Drew Ratter he said intervention would not be a responsible way for Viking to conduct its business.

“Viking Energy Partnership has examined and considered available evidence in respect of the effect of developed wind farms on property values and has to conclude that there is no evidence of a link between operating wind farms and property devaluation. The available evidence includes specific work by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.”

He continued: “Property prices are determined by a combination of many thousands of tangible and intangible factors. To intervene and effectively underwrite the Shetland property market is not something any responsible business could undertake to do and Viking Energy Partnership must conduct its business in a responsible way.”

Mr Manson said he very much hoped trustees would appreciate there was no evidence to support the contention that windfarms caused property to fall in value.

The question of a compensation fund was put forward at the trust meeting in June by trustee Theo Smith, the new councillor for Shetland West. It was suggested at the meeting that if Viking declined to get involved then the trust should look at creating its own fund from the estimated £23 million-a-year profits it expects from the venture.

The issue will be discussed by trustees tomorrow. Trust financial controller Jeff Goddard is recommending that the matter is kept “under review”.

As previously revealed, the trust has asked NHS Shetland to undertake the study into health impact. Director of public health Dr Sarah Taylor has agreed to do the work, which trustees have been told will involve “an updated literature review on wind farms and health”.