The official report at the centre of the Coalition row over renewable energy will disclose for the first time the impact of wind farms on rural house prices, The Telegraph has learned.
Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, has commissioned a consultancy to investigate whether renewable technologies – including wind turbines – lower house prices in the countryside.
Coalition sources said the report is being blocked by officials at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), run by Ed Davey, a Liberal Democrat, amid fears it will conclude that turbines harm property prices.
Mr Paterson has made clear that he intends to make the document public as soon as it is completed.
On Tuesday, this newspaper disclosed that a report into renewable energy had been commissioned by Mr Paterson’s Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra).
The decision to order the report is said to have caused anger within Mr Davey’s department, which viewed it as encroachment upon its remit.
Mr Davey has strongly denied that anyone in his department is trying to suppress the investigation.
It has emerged that a significant focus of the report will be the financial impact of wind farms upon the value of neighbouring properties.
Opponents of wind farms claim it is “highly likely” that the report will reveal that turbines in rural areas will detract from the value of nearby homes.
The consultancy company, Frontier Economics, has been asked by Defra to calculate how house prices will be affected by a series of energy projects across Britain. It has been asked to look at onshore and offshore wind, overhead power lines, shale gas, anaerobic digestion plants and nuclear power plants.
The remit of the report states that it “aims to determine whether [energy projects] have a significant impact on the prices of houses nearby and, if so, compare how that impact differs between different types”.
It will feed into Mr Paterson’s final report on how renewables affect the countryside and the rural economy.
MPs tonight said that Mr Paterson must be allowed to publish his department’s findings.
Chris Heaton-Harris, the Conservative MP for Daventry, said: “Wind farms definitely affect house prices and it is highly likely that this report will come to that conclusion.
“I would expect there to be billions of pounds of planning blight because of wind turbines close to properties.”
He added: “It’s almost like elements of DECC are acting like a mafia … now you’ve got DECC trying to stick its dirty great footprints all over another department’s work.
“While this is unsurprising, it will all unravel in the end and I’m sure the evidence will come out soon that proves a number of these points correct.”
He said that one of his constituents had seen the value of their £700,000 property fall by £250,000 because of approved plans for a wind turbine.
Glyn Davies, the Conservative MP for Montgomeryshire, said: “I’m expecting this report to find that house prices will be reduced over the country by a measure of billions. It is my view that any unbiased study will show that. What is absolutely crucial is that this report is allowed to come out.” He added: “I can’t see how anyone wouldn’t want the public to know the conclusions – irrespective of what the report says.”
In a letter to The Daily Telegraph today, Mr Davey says: “My department is not blocking a Defra report on the impact of wind farms.
“The Government is committed to moving to a secure, affordable, low carbon energy system, without excessively relying on any single technology.
“So, this cross-government study will look at maximising the benefits and minimising the negative impacts of all technologies, including shale gas and nuclear.”
Details of the study, the first major review of renewables and their impact on house prices, were disclosed in The ENDS Report , an environmental policy magazine. A spokesman for Defra said: “It is our role to rural-proof policy. We need to ensure that energy is generated in a way that is sustainable. Sustainability includes the economic as well as social and environmental impacts.”
Jennifer Webber, of RenewableUK, said: “All the expert academic research published in this country and abroad over the last few years shows there’s no conclusive evidence to suggest that wind farms affect house prices.”
The dispute between Defra and DECC comes after a series of Coalition rows over wind farms. Mr Davey last year slapped down a former Conservative energy minister, John Hayes, after he said the spread of wind farms across the countryside would be brought to a halt.
David Cameron this month said people should not “expect to see a lot more wind power onshore in the UK” and that there was a “limited potential for onshore wind”.
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