A federal magistrate has accepted that wind farms slash the value of surrounding properties, saying she found it “hard to imagine” any prospective buyer could ignore such development.
In a decision believed to be the first time an Australian court has recognised the adverse financial impact of wind farms for neighbours, magistrate Kate Hughes ruled a property would be worth 17 per cent less if a 14-turbine facility were erected next door.
For one part of the property, in regional Victoria, she accepted a 33 per cent fall in value was likely.
The ruling came in a family law case published this month amid separation proceedings for the couple who own the property.
Ms Hughes heard two separate valuers had agreed the wind farm would have a negative effect on the adjacent property, which the couple has divided into three blocks. “The expert value of the three blocks of land varies significantly depending on whether or not it is assumed the proposed wind farm will go ahead,” Ms Hughes said in her judgment.
“The impact of the proposed wind farm is apparent from the valuation report.”
The ruling comes on top of last month’s decision by South Gippsland Shire Council to cut rates for one landowner on the basis that his property would lose value because of an adjacent wind farm that is yet to be built.
The resident had his land value reduced by 32 per cent after arguing he would suffer from the 52-turbine Bald Hills wind farm.
Wind farm developers and the renewables industry overall have insisted land values are not affected by wind farms.
The valuers engaged in the Federal Magistrates Court case, Raab and Raab, varied slightly in their estimates of how much the land value would drop, but agreed there would be a detrimental effect if the wind farm went ahead.
“We have agreed there is insufficient sales information currently available from which we could ascertain the level of reduction in value applicable to rural properties in close proximity to wind turbine facilities,” the valuers said in a joint report tendered to the court.
“The matter is therefore largely subjective (but) our opinion in relation to this subject property is not significantly different.”
Ms Hughes said both the husband and wife had opposed the wind farm, which was approved in 2009 under planning legislation that has since been tightened by the Baillieu government.
“Given the planning permit for the wind farm has . . . been granted, it seems reasonable to assume the wind farm is more likely than not to go ahead,” she said. “It is hard to imagine any prospective buyer ignoring that issue.”
Outside court, the wife said she wanted the case publicised as evidence of the detrimental effect wind farms could have for neighbouring properties. “This just went to confirm it,” she told The Australian.
“The wind companies have to take notice of it – they deny it all.
“It’s going to take this sort of evidence to turn that ship.”
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