Most Australians erroneously believe wind farms will hurt property prices

Most Australians erroneously believe wind farms will hurt property prices
Most Australians erroneously believe wind farms will hurt property prices

The majority of people still believe wind farms can reduce the land values of nearby properties despite no evidence that this is true, two new reports on the renewable energy source have found.

About 53% of the 1,000 people surveyed in November by renewable energy company Pacific Hydro believe wind farms negatively impact on nearby property prices, and 30% totally disagreed with this assertion.

However, a report on community acceptance of rural wind farms by the CSIRO’s Science into Society Group found that to date the building of wind farms has not “necessarily lead to negative impacts on neighbouring property prices”. 

The CSIRO report notes an assessment of 78 property sales around the Crookwell wind farm between 1990 and 2006, which found no reductions in property values as well as a 2009 assessment by the NSW Valuer-General of 45 property transactions near six wind farms, which found there was no reduction in sale price for properties in townships with views of the wind farm.

Forty of the 45 properties did not sell at reduced prices, and there was no evidence that the decline in prices for the remaining five properties was caused by the wind farms.

Negative media stories could play a role in the perception that wind farms have a negative impact on property prices. 

Analysis of 49 articles about wind farms carried out by CSIRO found more reasons for opposing wind farms were reported in the media than reasons to support them.

Among the benefits noted by rural landowners who have allowed wind farms to be built on their properties include using the extra rental income to remain on the farm  after retirement.

They also said wind farms helped “conserve biodiversity, and prevent subdividing of land; communities benefit from a local wind farm through increased local business, community funds and local government revenue”.

One landowner said having a wind farm on their property could provide “a drought-proofing income stream for my property... Few farmers in this region could survive without off-farm income”.

Another said wind farms helped fund land protection.

“[With] a bit of money to put turbines on my property – that won’t devalue my property – we’ll be able to run less animals and put less pressure on the land and look after it a whole lot better, get the biodiversity happening as it should – that’s a good outcome for me,” a survey participant said.

Detractors said while wind farm might not reduce the actual value of a particular property, it could limit the market of potential buyers, such as those seeking to subdivide.

The report also produced evidence that wind farms could attract tourism, but at the same time found they can conflict with other tourism features.

It cites the Victorian Civil and Administrative ruling approving the Cape Bridgewater wind farm that the wind farm would add a “positive element to the landscape interest, and could become a significant tourist attraction in the South Gippsland area”.

One respondent to the survey said: “[The wind farm] has increased tourism; it’s put them on the map a bit. You know, they sell T-shirts and bumper stickers of our wind farm.”

But another respondent said the wind farm defeated the purpose of having a B&B in a picturesque rural landscape.

Other complaints were that wind farms blocked up country roads during construction and that they changed the landscape.

The Pacific Hydro survey found strong overall support for wind farm developments, with 83% of respondents supporting their construction and only 14% opposed. Support is strongest South Australia (90%), the state that relies on wind-generated energy for 17% of its power, the highest across Australia.

More than two-thirds (69%) of respondents to the survey nationwide support the building of wind farms over gas-fired power plants (25%) and new coal power plants (6%).

Commenting on the results, Lane Crockett, general manager for Pacific Hydro Australia, says there has been “significant debate and media coverage on the effects of wind farms on health, wildlife and amenity”.

“However, this recent poll shows that there continues to be overwhelming support for wind farms, and the recent negative messaging and constant attacks by some in the community does not appear to be altering public opinion too much”

“It is clear from these results that people in regional Australia are drawing their own conclusions on wind energy and they are that they understand the benefits and want to see more of it.

“The results of this poll should serve as a clear message to politicians and policy developers in all three states that most people like wind power.”

Construction is currently underway to build the 500-turbine Silverton wind farm project near Broken Hill, which will generate 1,000 megawatts of power, making it the largest wind farm in the Southern Hemisphere.

There are currently 52 wind farms operating across Australia generating about 1.5% of the country’s total electricity generation.

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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