Air Farmers make much of their proposal to pay £48,000 per year to a so-called ‘community fund’.
This is a very small price for damaging our tourist landscape and blighting heritage assets, businesses and communities surrounding the site.
This sum is the minimum suggested by the wind industry: “The Protocol specifies a £1,000 minimum payment per year per megawatt of installed wind power during the lifetime of the wind farm”.1 It is also is a third less than the industry average in 2006.2
AF propose paying double this rate at Middle Hill, their other scheme in Northumberland. There they are talking of £54,000 per year for 27MW of installed capacity.3
They must think we are a soft touch!
Just over the border we see much higher rates being offered, e.g. at Brunta Hill (11 x 125m turbines), near Lauder, PNE Wind is offering £5,000 per MW of installed capacity, plus an additional £1,000 per MW at year’s 10 and 20 (linked to RPI).4
The landowner, of course, is paid many times what the whole community receives for hosting turbines. In 2006 the industry-recommended rate was £13,500 per 3MW turbine per year.5 The current figure is substantially higher, according to letters we have seen from developers to landowners.
The sum of £48,000 per year appears even less generous when you know that Air Farmers might receive over £5.8 million per year just in subsidies paid by the electricity consumer (calculated using AF’s predicted load factor of 30.2% and £45.85 average auction price for Renewables Obligation Certificates as of 30 September, 2011).
The small benefits accruing from temporary jobs and local spend during the construction phase is likely to be very substantially outweighed by loss of value and investment in tourist businesses and local property.
Contrary to wind industry propaganda, there is plentiful evidence of the damage to property and business values caused by wind farms.
In the Danish homeland of Air Farmer’s MD there is a state-run compensation scheme.6
In Australia and the US growing numbers of properties where people are suffering health effects from turbines are being bought by site operators. Some are just bulldozed. In other cases property records show that companies have taken major losses in re-selling them.
They are usually sold with ‘no-litigation’ and ‘gagging’ clauses, to prevent the buyers seeking compensation for health problems or publicising noise and/or health problems.7
As far back as 2004, an English judge awarded a house buyer damages equalling 20% of the purchase price of a property 500 metres away from a proposed wind farm of seven 40m turbines in the Lake District. Note that those turbines are less than a third the size of the Middleton Burn ones. The vendors had not disclosed that an industrial wind power station was planned nearby.
In his judgement the judge stated that, “The effect is significant and it has a significant effect on the property. It is an incursion into the countryside. It ruins the peace”.8
A rating tribunal in Lincolnshire has reduced council tax on a property in recognition of the fact that it is badly affected by noise from eight 100m turbines that are 930 metres away. The owners have moved out of the property which a local estate agent has stated is “unsaleable”.9
The owners are currently awaiting the result of a High Court Action taken to seek a resolution of the noise problem and an award of damages.
Finally, we would mention a holiday park business near the eight 93m turbines of Knabs Ridge wind farm in North Yorkshire. Despite assurances from the developers, and from the planning inspector at the public inquiry who overturned a local decision to refuse planning permission, this business reports major financial damage that is directly attributable to the operation of the wind farm. The owner of the business states:
“We have lost £91,360.00 in pitch fee income, plus trading, plus caravan sales approx £400,000. For the last two seasons we have not sold a new holiday home since the wind farm has been here!!!!!! We normally sell at least ten. The Inquiry Inspector, in his Report on the Knabs Ridge proposal, assured us all that tourist businesses would be unaffected by the turbines and we are most upset that we have now been left in this position.
“Harrogate Council has received many complaints about the noise of the turbines. A noise monitor was erected in an adjacent field, some way from the caravans, and a report was produced that claimed no problem. More work is being commissioned.
“I understand that in many other European countries large turbines must be sited at least 2 km away from properties. Had this been the case here, our business would not be suffering as it is now.”10
1. RenewableUK (formerly BWEA), ‘A Community Commitment, The Benefits of Onshore Wind’, February 2011. (PDF download).
2. “In consultation with its members, BWEA has assumed that the average, annual community fund payment in 2006 equates to £1,500 per MW installed per year.” BWEA, ‘Powering Ahead’, March, 2006.
3. See Middle Hill Action Group website:
4. Confirmed in minutes of Community Council Liaison Group Meeting, 30 August 2011.
5. “In consultation with its members, BWEA has assumed that average, annual landowner payments in 2006 equate to £4,500 per MW installed per year. “ BWEA, ‘Powering Ahead’, March, 2006.
6. “An erector of a wind turbine has a duty to pay compensation for loss of value of real property following the erection of the wind turbine. The size of the loss of value is determined by an appraisal authority.” ‘Loss of value to real property due the erection of wind turbines’, Danish Energy Agency (in English).
7. See: Wind Farm Realities and ‘Turbines declared a nasty neighbour as secret buyout is revealed’, Sunday Sun (Australia), 1 Jan, 2011.
8. ‘Wind farms ruin peace, says judge’, The Times, 10 January, 2004.
9. See BBC News report: ‘Wind farm blights farmhouse’: the agent’s letter is reproduced on the Windbyte website.
10. Letter. (PDF download).