The researchers studied the values of house purchases around three locations in Cornwall. The only significant effect observed was that mean values of terraced houses and semi-detached houses up to one mile from the wind farms were down by 54% and 35%, respectively. On closer inspection, however, many of these homes were found to be ex-Ministry of Defence properties, which are generally less desirable. Meanwhile, prices of detached homes appeared unaffected by the proximity of the wind farms.
When Dent and Sims turned their attention to objections to proposed wind farms, they found a new phenomenon; less a victim of not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) sentiment and more a reflection of NISEBYs (not in someone else's back yard). As Sims points out: "In very few cases are the objections from local people. People from Scotland are objecting to wind farms in Cornwall."
The report also concludes that wind developers are avoiding the problem of impacting on house values by locating their projects at sites where any effect is minimised.
From RICS, Brian Berry says the supposed negative effect on house values is often put forward as grounds for opposition to wind farms. "If anything, this research shows that trying to assess the impact of wind farms on property values is a complex and emotive subject. Apparent changes in value disappear when examined closely. Objections raised are often found to be less about local concerns and more about wider ideological issues."
"This new research is yet another nail in the coffin of some of the exaggerated myths peddled by opponents of wind power," says Chris Tomlinson from the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA). "This report also takes a refreshing look at NIMBYism and tells us what we have known for some time," he says: Objections to wind farms are often found to be less about genuine local concerns as they are submitted by people who live hundreds of miles from the development site.
The report is the second so far this year to find no evidence showing a direct link between wind farms and house prices. In February, the Edinburgh Solicitors' Property Centre (ESPC) published a study into the impact of Crystal Rig wind farm on house prices. The study, conducted in the Dunbar area before, during and after construction of the wind farm, found no evidence that the project had had a negative impact on house prices compared with other parts of East Lothian. Indeed, once the wind farm received planning consent, property prices shot up by an average of 53% -- more than double the rate of price rises for the region.
"Intuitively, it may surprise people that a wind farm could have a positive effect on property prices," comments Ron Smith from the ESPC. The results, however, are in line with previous surveys that found both tourists and residents near wind farms were three or four times more likely to see the development as having a positive influence on the area, he says. "That being the case, it is only natural that one may see increased demand for properties in towns and villages near wind farms."