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Times online

January 10, 2004

Wind farms ruin peace, says judge

By Lewis Smith

WIND farms can ruin the peace of the countryside and destroy the value of nearby homes, a judge has ruled.

The ruling is the first of its kind and damages the wind energy industry’s assertion that it is “a myth” that property prices are affected.

District Judge Michael Buckley said that the noise, visual intrusion and flickering of light through the blades of turbines reduced the value of a house by a fifth. He said that the value of a remote house in Marton, in the Lake District, fell significantly because of the construction of a wind farm of seven 40m-high turbines 500 metres away.

“The effect is significant and it has a significant effect on the property,” he said. “It is an incursion into the countryside. It ruins the peace”. Until now the industry has insisted that wind-farm developments do not damage house prices and the British Wind Energy Association even suggests the massive turbines can increase the value of nearby homes.

On its website the association labels the idea that house prices can be damaged as one of the “top ten myths” about wind power. It states: “The proximity of a wind energy development does not adversely affect property prices. In fact, prices seem to be on the increase.”

Alison Hill, of the association, said that a survey of property values near wind farms across the country was being planned to assess the impact, and promised that the website would be amended.

She said: “This is the first documented evidence we are aware of that does show a decrease in property value.”

Kyle Blue, a chartered surveyor and valuer who is leading a campaign against a 27-turbine farm in the Lake District, said the court ruling merely confirmed what householders already knew. “To me it’s common sense,” he said.

He added that he knew of at least two other properties worth less because of a proposed wind farm at Whinash in the Lake District.

Wind farms are not compelled to offer homeowners compensation in the way local authorities can be when pushing through projects, and Judge Buckley’s ruling does not pave the way for property owners to claim compensation.

A couple won a £15,000 compensation order because when they bought the property in Marton the vendors, who campaigned against the farm’s construction, made the mistake of ticking a box on a form to state they had not been involved in negotiations about planning issues affecting the property.

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