A furious artist has revealed that plans for an 260-foot wind turbine overlooking her cottage in the Scottish countryside wiped £45,000 from the value of her home.
Sue Arbor is also angry that loose-lipped council officials told at least one would-be buyer there would be a “whooshing” noise from the giant structure.
Her experience supports claims that wind farms can depress property values, something that has always been hotly disputed by the renewables industry.
Ms Arbor, 59, put her picturesque home near Huntly, Aberdeenshire, up for sale in 2011 after learning of a proposed wind farm less than 500 yards from her back garden.
The cottage was valued at £130,000, but after two years she was still unable to find a buyer – and suspected the turbine was to blame. Her suspicion was confirmed in June when a woman withdrew an offer after speaking to somebody at Aberdeenshire Council.
She received an email explaining the decision, which reads: “Having spoken to Planning again, re the wind turbines, as 475 metres from the house is close, they have confirmed there will be a ‘whooshing’ noise and flicker.
“Also she said more turbines will be approved if applied for… One could end up with a cluster of them on the hill, all making ‘whooshing’ noises!
“My solicitor has contacted me this morning and said best avoid it and look for somewhere else.”
Ms Arbor, who was a CAD designer in the oil industry, believes her story should act as a warning to any Scots homeowners who live near a windy hilltop.
She said: “I moved there in 1982. It was a typical but ‘n’ ben cottage, halfway up the hill and looking over farmland all the way to the coast and the Grampian mountains.
“It is landscape of undulating hills, broadleaf trees and conifer plantations. I think it is beautiful, but the wind farm operators always describe it as ‘scrubland’.
“I could see a wind farm about five miles away and I already had six sites encircling me when a neighbour learned by chance of plans to build two 165-foot turbines on the hill behind us.
“We weren’t notified about it because we didn’t live within 20 metres. I was planning to move within five years anyway so I decided this would be a good time to do it.”
Two years went by and the planning application was altered from two turbines to one larger structure – but still nobody wanted to buy Ms Arbor’s cottage.
She even had a meeting with her local MSP, First Minister Alex Salmond, who told her that Scotland had “no other option” but to embrace renewable energy.
Finally, in July, she put her home up for auction with Glasgow Property Agency with a reserve price of £70,000.
Ms Arbor said: “I had another firm offer but then he went to the agents and said he was pulling out because of the turbine.
“I was at my wits’ end, but then a cash buyer turned up on the doorstep. He and his girlfriend said they were not bothered by the turbine and for £85,000 they got a real bargain.
“We got a refreshed valuation done by the same company that did the first one in 2011. Nothing had changed – in fact I had done some improvements – and it was valued at £100,000.
“I know house prices have dropped, but not by 20 per cent in two years, so the only explanation can be the turbine.”
Ms Arbor, who has now moved to a caravan near Inverness overlooking the Beauly Firth, added: “It was phenomenally stressful. I lost almost a stone in weight.
“This will be happening across Scotland as people are becoming more opposed to wind turbines. The public are not as stupid as the politicians like to think, and lots more people will find they are unable to sell a home near a wind farm.”
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