So rumours are flying about that a DEFRA commissioned report is going to show that wind farms reduce house prices in rural areas. It’s getting reported in the papers because DECC are rumoured to be holding up publication.
First up, I am willing to recognise that wind farms may reduce house prices. I’ve certainly heard plenty of anecdotal evidence to that effect. But as always it is crucial to remember why we have wind farms. Reason number one: Climate change. We are burning too many long dead organisms to provide for our energy needs and in doing so we are modifying our atmosphere and modifying our climate. In order to continue to have energy without the burning of the long dead organisms, we need to turn to low carbon sources: wind, solar, nuclear, biomass, fossil fuels with CCS… Sometimes these will have local amenity impacts, personally I am in the wind farms are an aesthetically pleasing addition to our landscape and a symbol of human ingenuity and forward progress camp, but equally I’m not the sort of person to want to live in rural Britain, at least, not yet. I don’t really see why a lovely view with wind turbines isn’t actually lovlier than one without.
Let us accept then, as the premise for an argument that wind farms reduce local house prices. So will climate change. Principally through enhancing flood risk. Having taken a look around, the consensus seems to be around a 4% reduction in house prices as the penalty for being in an area of high flood risk. The Climate Change Risk Assessment report on flooding suggested that properties at risk of flooding will increase from 560,000 now to 1.2 million in the 2050s (median scenario). The additional cost of this amounts to £1.7 billion.
So wind farms reduce house prices in the short term but not addressing climate change lowers house prices and causes wider economic damage too in the longer term. Maybe what we should have is the solution Tim Yeo proposed last year; ‘bribe’ communities to accept wind farms. It will work out cheaper in the long run.