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Would you buy a house near a wind farm?

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wind farm
A wind farm near Merlin, Ontario.

The question of whether wind farms affect the value of properties around them hasn’t exactly been a breeze to figure out.

As wind energy makes an increasing contribution to the grid the issue has become a global one, but a new study from the University of Guelph published in the Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics came to the conclusion that wind turbines don’t affect property values negatively.

Guelph researchers pored over 7000 home and farm sales in Ontario’s Melancthon Township, where 133 wind turbines were erected between 2005 and 2008.

Despite widespread outcry from residents, the study says their fear are unfounded.

“These results do not corroborate the concerns raised by residents regarding potential negative impacts of turbines on property values,” said Richard Vyn, a professor in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Guelph, who co-authored the study.

One local realtor, however, disagrees with the professor. Dave Launchberry says there seems to be a “growing stigma” around properties near wind farms, and estimates that they sell for more than 10% less than houses not near wind turbines.

If Launchberry’s assessment seems homespun compared to a Canadian university-led study, consider that his take puts him in company with research from the prestigious London School of Economics, (PDF) which found that having a wind farm visible from a property devalues a property by an average of 5-6%, more if the operation is of greater density. “A wind farm with 20+ turbines within 2km reduces prices by some 11 percent on average,” said the study.

Opposition to wind farms has always been about property values. And today’s opponents think that is enough, especially considering the payoff developers are routinely nabbing.

The tact used by those opposing wind farms has changed. If the real motivation of Not-in-my-Backyarders was monetary, it used to come couched in claims that wind farms presented health issues. But those arguments have factored less and less into the game, as science has soundly debunked them.

Opposition to wind farms has always been about property values. And today’s opponents think that is enough, especially considering the payoff developers are routinely nabbing.

In Denmark, where wind power supplied a record 41.2% of the country’s electricity consumption in the first half of 2014, turbine manufacturer Vestas was successfully sued for 500,000 Danish kroner (about 96,000 Canadian dollars) due to noise, visual interference, and light reflection.

Wind power is clean, plentiful, consistent and efficient. Around the world, more than 80 countries derive at least some of their energy from it, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.

But it is clear where the legal fight is headed. The minimum distance from which wind turbines can be from residential areas will gradually stretch as developers factor in the cost of potential legal action. In Scotland, where the debate has been fierce, new legislation has been proposed that would require a minimum two-kilometre distance between a wind farm and a residential area.

In Canada, where land is far more abundant, legislating a minimum distance of two-kilometres or more just makes economic and legal sense in the long term. Would you buy a house near a wind turbine? In the not-so-distant future you may simply not be allowed to.

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About The Author /

Cantech Letter founder and editor Nick Waddell has lived in five Canadian provinces and is proud of his country's often overlooked contributions to the world of science and technology. Waddell takes a regular shift on the Canadian media circuit, making appearances on CTV, CBC and BNN, and contributing to publications such as Canadian Business and Business Insider.
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  1. This study has neglected one vital and important fact. It did NOT take into account those properties that have been abandoned by the owners or simply taken off the market because they could not get one single offer from anyone, due to the proximity of IWT’s.

    You don’t have to be a genius to know this article is pure wind industry propaganda and nonsense. Anyone with even the slightest degree of intelligence can think this one out for themselves.

    Take two identical properties for sale in the country. Identical in every way. Same amount of land. Same floor plan, etc. Property A has an unspoiled view of the surrounding countryside….nature in all of it’s glory. Property B is surrounded on all sides by 500 to 600 foot tall industrial machines with spinning blades the size of a 747. No matter which window you look out of, you see these machines and along with them comes the noise (much worse at night when the air is damper and holds the sound lower to the ground), the shadow flicker, the ground vibrations, and the infrasound (which you can’t audibly hear). And let’s not forget the ice throw from the blades in the winter time.

    Which one is going to sell first? Which one is most likely to get the owners a price close or equal to what they were asking? Anyone who states that the price for Property B would not be affected is a flat out liar.

  2. Wind farm and property value study should not have been published: Queen’s professor emeritus

    Letter to the Editors of Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics:

    Andrejs Skaburskis, Professor Emeritus
    North American Editor: Urban Studies,
    School of Urban and Regional Planning,
    Queen’s University,
    Kingston Ontario, Canada

    windconcernsontario DOT ca/wind-farm-and-property-value-study-should-not-have-been-published-queens-professor-emeritus/

    Excerpt:” The paper by Vyn and McCullough (2014) should not have been published
    in its current form as the results are being misinterpreted and highly
    publicized in the press and in radio broadcasts. The core issue is the
    lack of power in the statistical tests, a problem partially acknowledged
    by the authors but then dismissed by their focusing attention on tests
    for the sensitivity of their model specification. The article appears to
    encourage the misinterpretation of its statistical findings.”

  3. One would think that being close to a pig farm or a chicken farm would devalue a property more than being close to a wind turbine due to the repugnant stink (unless you were planning on raising pig or chickens of course!).

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