The Impact of Solar and Wind farms on Homes
Renewable energy is on the rise and the COVID-19 crisis coupled with the rising costs of gas and electricity has laid bare the downside to getting your energy from fossil fuels. Renewable energy is generally produced locally, however, its production may have external effects on local residents. So, what is the impact of Solar and Wind Farms on homes located close by?
It has been said that wind turbines are noisy; they cast shadows and create flickering. Moreover, there are many who find wind turbines visually polluting and ruin the landscape, particularly if they are tall. Solar panels can reflect both sound and sunlight and are also not considered to be particularly visually pleasing.
In 2010, a YouGov poll of 1,001 residents in Scotland were reported as agreeing or strongly agreeing that wind farms “are, or would be, ugly and a blot on the landscape.”
According to the research in 2014 by the London School of Economics, large wind farms can knock as much as 12% off the value of homes within a 2-kilometre radius and reduce property prices as far away as 14 kilometres. However, this has been contradicted in a 2019 study by Michael Barnard, whose research included 10 statistically reliable studies of approximately 1.3 million property transactions in three counties and found no negative impact.
Wind and solar farm home impact policy
In England and Wales, many wind farms are developed, owned and operated by one of the major energy companies such as RES, Scottish Power, EDF, and E.ON, although some are one-off enterprises. Wind farms are very attractive business opportunities because the electricity they generate is eligible for Renewables Obligation Certificates, which are issued by Ofgem and guarantee a price at a premium above the market rate. The owners of the land on which the wind farm is situated will charge a rent to the wind farm operator. Media reports suggest this could amount to around £40,000 per year for a 3MW turbine.
In common with most other types of development, wind and solar farms have to pass through local planning procedures. These procedures are administered by the Local Planning Authority, which can take several years from the initial scoping stage to operations commencing and involves a number of stages of planning, environmental impact assessments, community consultation and appeals.
A key bone of contention against both wind and solar farms is that they need much larger amounts of land to generate the same amount of energy as more traditional methods of generation. A planning application to construct a solar installation in Burstow, Surrey, caused concern among local residents who were worried about the negative impact a solar farm could have on the value of their homes.
The proposed 24-acre development, in a green belt area, also included a security fence and CCTV covering the length of approximately 13 football fields. Because of the rising concerns of residents throughout the UK towards these farms, it is becoming essential for conveyancers to cover these issues when ordering property searches.
Respect for concern
As has been described above, the vast majority of rural homeowners have a variety of deep-seated emotional drivers attached to their concerns. For homeowners of advancing age, it is the unchanging home and surrounding area they have lived in for most of their adult lives. For others, it is a rural idyll and escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. For almost all of them, their home represents a huge chunk of their lifetime investment, both in cost and in value. It is only natural they are worried about the possibility of their home decreasing in value, and worthwhile respecting the emotions surrounding this subject.
What is the impact of Solar and Wind farms on homes and their value?
The largest and longest study in the UK in this area was released in 2014 by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), who were commissioned by RenewableUK, the industry body for wind and marine energy generation. It is worth mentioning, the fact they have skin in the game may reduce the merit of the study, however the study covered over 1 million property transactions in countries who have had wind farms for over 18 years.
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in conjunction with Oxford Brookes University found that despite initial evidence suggesting the presence of a solar or wind farm did affect property prices, when they investigated more closely, they found other factors were more significant in reducing property prices than wind and solar farms.
Insofar as there was any impact on prices, their results seemed to show that it affected terraced and semi-detached homes with a significant impact on properties located within a mile of a wind or solar farm. The effect seems much less noticeable – if at all – in relation to detached houses.
In summary, while people seemed to blame wind and solar farms for a decrease in their property’s value, other factors were much more significant, and detached property, the dominant form of housing near wind and solar farms showed no price impact.
The price for avoiding a solar or wind farm
Potential homebuyers are willing to pay around £600 per year to avoid having a wind or solar farm of small to average size within 2km of their home. They would pay around £1,000 if it meant they could avoid a large visible wind farm at the same distance and approximately £125 per year to avoid a visible wind or solar farm within the 8-14km range.
This means that implied sums to compensate households for their loss of visual amenities within 4km would be about £14 million on average. Although wind and solar farms make a contribution to community causes, they are under no legal obligation to reimburse homeowners for any perceived loss of value in their property.
So overall, what is the impact of solar and wind farms on homes?
The situation, and therefore your position on the subject, really depends on whether you are a resident and hellbent on avoiding such developments in your area, or you are a landowner and think it might be a good money spinner planting row upon row of solar panels or wind turbines instead of a field of potatoes.
Studies in this area are not particularly helpful either. None are recent, the youngest being carried out in 2019, albeit an amalgamation of all previous studies. Neither are they particularly independent or impartial, most having been done by companies and research groups with interests on either side of the issue. What is needed is a full and impartial study by an entity that has no interest in the outcome, but that’s a job for another day!
When purchasing a property, you will need to consider carrying out property searches. If buying with a mortgage, your lender will required some searches as minimum. Even if buying in cash, it is always recommended to have searches. An Environmental search will reveal any solar or wind farm developments in the local area so you can make an informed choice. You can read more about searches in our article on property searches here, or contact one of our team to discuss things in more detail on 0800 799 9892 or firstname.lastname@example.org