The Case against Windfarms

The Case Against Windfarms is an authoritive, referenced document written by Dr John Etherington ( © Dr JR Etherington).

The views expressed are those of the author, who is a professional environmental scientist, formerly Reader in Ecology at the University of Wales. It is freely offered for reproduction or other use providing it is acknowledged. Our website contains the complete document, which consists of 18 Sections, 2 Appendices and References/Notes. The full list is shown on the Home Page, and also at Case Sections

The website also contains a web page devoted each separate section, of which this is one. These pages start with a copy of the relevant section of the full report, followed by links to a series of articles, news items, research papers and reports which are relevant to that topic. Note that these items have been compiled by Country Guardian and are not part of Dr Etherington's paper

11. House prices, tourism and jobs

 

 

It is little more than a matter of common sense to realise that wind power may seriously affect property price. Given two identical rural houses, one with wind turbines on its horizon, in which would you invest your £200k? There is but one answer unless ‘green’ commitment has displaced all sense.

 

What 'they' say

 

"Myth: Wind farms devastate house prices” DTI Myths

 

A study of its members’ opinions by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS 2004) concluded that "60% of the sample suggested that wind farms decrease the value of residential properties where the development is within view...” and the report also concluded that “Once a wind farm is completed, the negative impact on property values continues but becomes less severe after two years or so after completion"

 

With outrageous misrepresentation, the DTI Myths website (above) dishonestly misquotes the RICS survey findings: - “A study by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors suggests that wind farms have no lasting impact on UK house prices” and continues “It shows that local house prices recover from any initial impact once a wind farm has been operating for two years.” Compare that with the very different original versions above!

 

DTI Myths then compounds the offence by writing “People promoting fears of falling prices risk making them self- fulfilling." I am sure that this was not the interpretation arrived at by the district judge who awarded substantial compensation to a family from Marton in Cumbria, because a vendor failed to disclose a wind farm proposal (Times January 10 2004)!

 

A valuer in mid-Wales has suggested a probable 25% reduction in house value caused by a proposed windfarm (Remax E.A. 2005) and at Lethbridge in Devon, two independent valuers predicted that a farm property will similarly lose £165,000 in value (Sunday Telegraph January 2005).

 

The wind power industry vehemently denies such impacts but facts and common sense speak louder than their words

 

Just as common sense predicts that wind power will influence property price it seems equivalently likely that it will deflect the rural tourist who comes for peace and quiet, to escape the constant movement and noise of the city and to recharge their mental batteries.

 

The deeply disturbing thing is that the wind power industry refutes this by saying there is no “proof” of impact on house prices, but unfortunately this is a classic Catch-22 situation in which the proof is the damnation – it will be too late and the  precautionary principle is the only safe approach.

 

Tourism

 

Whether we like it or not, tourism is the future for rural Britain, and as Foot & Mouth disease sadly revealed, it is a substantially larger earner than agriculture. The following figures were compiled for Wales, but proportions will be similar in Scotland and England.

Tourism earns almost £2 billion a year for
Wales. It contributes 7% to Welsh GDP and far outweighs agriculture, at less than 2%.  Tourism is much more cost-effective in terms of jobs, than agriculture, which becomes less labour intensive each year. Farms, which employed a dozen men 50 years ago, often run on a man and his wife these days.

The conventional electricity industry contributes less than 2% to Welsh GDP and if the 2010 renewable generation target of 10% is achieved, it would represent at best, 0.2% of our country’s GDP.

Thus we have a thriving and rapidly growing tourist industry worth more than 35 times the GDP which renewable electricity could ever realise, and because most of the generation will be wind power, its enormous landscape impact will almost certainly jeopardise tourism.

Of course, BWEA assures us that tourists don’t mind the turbines and indeed will swarm to visit windfarms and their eco-centres. But they would say that, wouldn’t they?

What 'they' say

 

Myth: Wind farms keep tourists away: Many wind farms are tourist attractions.” DTI Myths

 

The fact that the Gaia Centre at Delabole went bankrupt, the Swaffham eco-centre encountered serious financial troubles and Cold Northcott visitor centre near Delabole was forced to close, might just be bad luck or rotten management! Interestingly most of the wind ‘farms’ which are claimed to be tourist attraction are in fact visitor centres in their own right, all in areas where tourists are seeking indoor occupation in bad weather. The Wales Tourist Board summed-this up perfectly “… there will only be a need for a very small number of wind farm visitor centres before this also reaches saturation point. The WTB believe that the case for wind farms as tourist attractions in their own right only has very limited appeal.(Letter to author from WTB May 2002).  

 

The impact of wind power on tourism may in fact be substantial. In 2003 the Wales Tourist Board concluded from a survey of businesses in mid-Wales that "Just over half of the respondents thought wind farms have already and will continue to have an adverse effect on visitors coming to the area." And we have not even started building a lot of big ones yet!

 

Outside Wales, a survey by VisitScotland (2002) which was effectively conducted 'blind' was even more frightening about the impact on tourism; over a quarter of tourists saying they were unlikely to return to a 'turbinised' landscape.

 

A survey in the Western Isles arrived at a similar disturbing conclusion (Tourism Operators in North West Lewis, 2004).

 

Jobs

 

What ‘they’ say

 

Wind energy is the fastest growing energy sector in the UK creating jobs with every megawatt installed. To date, over 4,000 jobs are sustained by companies working in the wind sector, and this is projected to increase as the industry grows2. The Department of Trade and Industry3 has estimated that Round Two of offshore wind developments alone could bring a further 20,000 jobs for Britain.

 

 

Reality.  During construction of Causey Mire wind ‘farm’, Caithness, in 2004, a Danish site engineer explained to a visitor that the Bonus turbines had been shipped complete from Denmark. Replying to a question about employment, he commented that no permanent staffing was needed as the day to day operation would be radio controlled from Denmark (a technology derived from managing offshore wind ‘farms’). Maintenance would involve no more than occasional visits to the site by a roving engineer. Cefn Croes, the largest wind "farm" in Europe was predicted to need just four full-time employees (http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~hills/cc/ ) and at the Bryn Titli wind "farm" in Wales even the construction site workers were Danish - erecting Danish Bonus turbines in 1994.

 

Reality. In March 2002, Merfyn Williams CPRW said (in the Western Mail) that the tourism and leisure industry in Wales employs 23,000 people whilst renewable energy (most of which is not wind power) employs only 275.

 

Thus, though wind ‘farms’ threaten to destroy jobs in the tourist industry; they create few if any compensating jobs elsewhere.

 

The simple truth is that if the subsidies going into renewables were diverted to other CO2-conservative projects, thousands of jobs would be created at a stroke, and far more emissions would be saved. For example Connah's Quay gas-fired power station (1400 MW) created or secured 8,000 jobs, and all of the 500 contractors and consultants were based in the UK (CG 2000). Gas-fired generation emits less than half as much CO2 as coal-firing so just one station of this size potentially saves more CO2 than all of the UK’s wind turbines (at least 5 million tonnes CO2 /y saving v. BWEA’s current claim for wind of just over 3 million tonnes CO2 /y).

 

 

 

 

 

Relevant articles, news items, papers, reports

Property Values and House Prices

Letters from estate agents and solicitors relating to property transaction impacted by the proximity of wind farms


Wind farms ruin peace, says judge

By Lewis Smith Times online January 10, 2004