They are the bane of ramblers and birds alike, but now homeowners are being warned that a nearby wind farm could cut the value of their houses by up to a third, an MP has claimed.
Geoffrey Cox, Conservative MP for West Devon and Torridge, said some homes in his area are now worth ‘significantly less’ thanks to giant turbines, and that it is an ‘injustice’ that homeowners should lose out while developers and land owners potentially pocket millions.
Mr Cox says proposals for scores of turbines have pushed rural areas to ‘tipping point’ and has called for a new scheme to compensate those whose homes are affected.
Planning Minister Nick Boles has proposed direct compensation for lost property value thanks to developments such as turbines, and also nuclear power stations, rail links and factories.
The minister is eyeing a pilot scheme in the coming months, and it could be based on the Dutch model that pays out an average of around £8,000 to householders that have suffered ‘detriment’.
Mr Cox said he welcomed the proposal, which is likely to curry favour across rural Cornwall, Devon and Somerset, where the growing number of wind farms are seen as a blight by residents.
The MP said: ‘An increasing number of people are coming to me with clear evidence that the value of their home is significantly less than what it otherwise would be were the wind farm not there.’
He added: ‘I’m seeing a minimum 10 per cent to 15 per cent reduction. Some are seeing a loss of one-third of the value… How can that be fair?’
‘How can it be right that landowners and developers are making millions of pounds, while the ordinary household is losing the value of what is their pension, or nest egg in old age.’
Wind farms are the source of much debate in rural communities, with a number of protest groups furious at the loss of local beauty spots.
In October, campaigners living near Ilkley in Yorkshire, won a campaign to have four giant turbines dismantled – the first ever wind farm to be scrapped in the UK.
Residents and walkers were delighted by the return of unspoilt views across the rolling hills and deep blue waters of Chelker Reservoir.
And to their relief, the 150ft high turbines will not be replaced after the council refused permission for two even bigger machines.
Angela Kelly, the chairwoman of the anti-wind farm campaign group Country Guardian, says she has seen the value of a number of properties slashed thanks to the presence of a nearby turbine.
She claims she has even heard of buyers withdrawing at the last minute after discovering plans for a wind farm in the local vicinity.
Ms Kelly said: ‘There is plenty of evidence that even the threat of a wind farm or a wind turbine can prevent the sale of houses’.
She added: ‘Certainly after a wind farm has been erected properties within sight or sound of the turbines can become virtually unsaleable.
Of the Planning Minister’s proposal, Mr Cox said: ‘I would completely support households having to be paid compensation for the depreciation of their house value as a result of wind turbines.’
‘It is simple nonsense for the pro-wind lobby to say they have no effect on house prices.’
But he warned: ‘The devil will be in the detail. How would you differentiate between those that are entitled and those that are not?’
The compensation package was revealed quietly in December’s autumn statement, but was detailed by Mr Boles when her appeared before the Local Government Select Committee of MPs.
He said the proposal was a ‘radical departure’ from Britain’s current planning rules, but would help speed up major infrastructure that will boost growth, and would bring “individual benefits” for local residents from new development.
His idea goes beyond existing schemes to compensate homeowners for roads and rail links which affect the property by creating noise and traffic.
Mr Boles said: ‘I think that everybody recognises that countries have to do difficult things – build roads, build railway lines, build nuclear power stations and other kinds of power sources.’
He added: ‘It is better for everyone that the amount of money is banged up in the transaction process – making the decision, let alone building the thing, as little as possible and relatively speedy. With certain projects there has been a principle established of some kind of a benefit being paid to very local communities.’
Mr Boles went on: ‘One of the things we are keen to pilot is whether people who have properties very close to a substantial development might benefit from some form of compensation for the loss of property value, something that does happen in some other countries, the Netherlands have innovated with it.’
Reacting to Mr Cox’s comments, Malcolm Prescott, managing director of local estate agent Webbers, said: ‘I’ve not experienced this myself… For every person who says I’m not keen on having a wind farm nearby, another will say it’s actually quite nice.’
He added: ‘I think so long as the thing isn’t on your actual doorstep and you can hear it buzzing, people just accept they are part of the landscape. Whether or not they affect property value is specific to each individual home and not something that will affect the entire region.’
Mr Prescott went on: ‘People are still far more concerned about other aspects of the sale. Is it the right location? Is there access to the beach? What are the schools like? Those are the things that really matter to people buying property around here’.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding