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Wind farm denial riles trustees

The owners of Shetland’s community stake in the Viking Energy wind farm are unhappy with its stance on compensating home owners who live near the proposed development.

In June Shetland Charitable Trust (SCT) called on the Viking Energy Partnership to look into setting up a compensation fund to help people whose properties could plummet in value once the 145 metre turbines go up.

Bill Manson, who chairs the Shetland half of the partnership, wrote back to say there was no evidence of a link between wind farms and property devaluation.

Manson added: “It would not be responsible to effectively underwrite a ‘floor price’ in the local property market.”

His comments were based on evidence from studies carried out by the Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors (RICS) into the impact of property prices on wind farms.

They were also informed by the knowledge that Scottish and Southern Energy, who are joint partners in the development, have never set up any such fund to compensate residents close to the 30 or so wind farms they operate in the UK and Ireland.

SCT trustee Theo Smith said he was “amazed, but not surprised” at Viking Energy’s response.

“According to Viking nothing they do will harm anyone,” he said.

Smith added that he was a member of the RICS and a cursory look at their website suggested wind farms could have a significant impact on property prices.

An RICS study in 2007 on properties in Cornwall suggested no direct impact could be proven, however a landmark legal case in Lincolnshire the following year ruled that house prices could be devalued.

A briefing paper to the Westminster government in July said there were no compensation schemes in the UK, but there were in Denmark, adding it remained unclear whether there was any impact on house prices.

“Common sense would say that if you have a monstrosity of a wind farm near your property it’s certainly going to have an effect,” Smith said.

“There may be no studies in this, but you feel it in your water.”

The trust will now take the issue up again with Viking Energy, though they may find that the company suggests it is up to the trust to provide compensation from the £23 million a year it hopes to earn from the development.

The trust is also waiting for a report from NHS Shetland’s director of public health Sarah Taylor on the health impact of the wind farm.