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Debate gives YOU chance to air views on wind turbines

October 12, 2012

THOSE who fear they may be caught in the ‘eye of the storm’ that swirls around the wind power debate get a chance to air their views tomorrow.

Wade Street Church in Lichfield is the setting this Saturday for an open forum organised by the group Low Carbon Lichfield.

Speakers will include Ed Gill from Good Energy, Phil Goode from Council for the Protection of Rural England (Staffordshire) and professor Peter Styles from the University of Keele.

Those attending will have the opportunity to respond to the views of the debate – chaired by Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant – with a poll at the end on the controversial topic.

One thing is irrefutable now in the argument – there is official recognition that turbines can lower the value of nearby homes.

That can be the only conclusion from the latest decisions by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) to move certain houses close to wind farms into lower council tax bands.

While property experts have long acknowledged the harmful effect of wind farms on property prices, the association has until now been dismissed by the wind industry.

In one recent case a couple saw the value of their home 650 yards from the Fullabrook wind farm near Braunton, Devon, fall by a third from £400,000 to £300,000 according to a local agent’s estimate.

The couple, who aren’t planning to sell their house, told the VOA that the “persistent whooshing noise” from the turbines and the visual intrusion – including a flickering shadow when the sun is directly behind the blades – made their property less valuable.

The VOA agreed to move the property from council tax band F to band E, amounting to a saving of about £400 a year.

At least three other properties have been moved into lower tax bands upon appeal to the VOA, although there were other factors at play in each case, it was claimed.

Originally a report by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and OxfordBrookesUniversity in 2007 said an urban myth may have grown up around the suggestion that there was a clear relationship between the proximity of wind farms and property prices.

The study looked at transactions of residential property near wind farms at two locations in Cornwall, and found that while terraced and semi-detached houses within a mile of one of the wind farms were lower in value than similar houses at a distance of four miles, other factors influenced the devaluation.

It found no change in property prices beyond one mile from the wind farms.

However the following year Jane Davis won a discount on her council tax because her £170,000 home had been rendered worthless by a turbine 1,000 yards away.

The ruling wasn’t the first official admission that wind farms had a negative effect on house prices.

At the time Mrs Davis said: “For people living near wind farms, both now and in the future, it will be a disaster.

“There are many, many people living in Middle England who have worked hard all their lives and yet will see the values of their homes suddenly diminish.

“This isn’t about Nimbyism, but the rights of ordinary people to live a normal life.”

Mrs Davis and her family were forced to move into a rented house because the noise of the blades was so severe.

Lichfield parliamentarian Fabricant, a permanent fixture in the House of Commons for more than 20 years, said he was looking forward to the Lichfield debate.

“The UK is committed to a low carbon economy. Whether you agree with man’s influence or not over global warming, we are running out of finite resources like hydrocarbons to produce oil,” he added.

The Wade Street Church debate opens at 11am.

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