What’s really going on with wind farms and property prices?

Wind Farm Image source: RenewEconomy (12 August 2019)

One of the claims we continue to see used by anti-wind campaigners in an attempt to turn people against wind farms is the claim that wind affects property prices — but what’s really going on with wind power and property values? Friends of the Earth's Yes 2 Renewables collective has undertaken a review of research on the topic to determine if there is in fact any relationship between wind farms and property prices, both globally and locally here in Australia.

One of the most comprehensive studies was undertaken in 2014 by government agency RenewableUK and the Centre for Economic and Business Research. This study analysed 85,000 property transactions located within 5 kilometres of 7 wind farms, finding that 6 out of 7 sites demonstrated no material impact on house prices from announcement through to completion. On average across the wind farm lifecycle, prices rose by greater than the county average. Furthermore, the one site that posted a brief decrease during the construction phase, recovered after construction had completed and then remained above the county average.

A further study in the US state of Massachusetts conducted jointly by the University of Connecticut and Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory assessed the claim that wind turbines affect house prices. The study compared over 120,000 property sale transactions within 5 miles of 41 wind turbines and found that while there was weak evidence to suggest that initial announcement of wind farms had a negative effect, this was no longer apparent through the construction and operation phases. The study also found the rate of sales was not impacted by the introduction of wind turbines.

The study was unique in that it compared property sales in urban settings (rather than the typical rural setting), testing price effects against other known negative house price factors such as landfill sites, electricity transmission lines and prisons, and positive price factors such as open spaces and beaches. The study concluded that the inclusion of wind turbines did not affect the impact of the other negative and positive factors in property sale prices.

In Australia, a study prepared for the NSW Valuer General, of 45 properties across 8 wind farm locations in NSW and Victoria found that while there was variation in price across different property types and locations, those properties with reduced prices could not be solely linked to wind farms. In the case of rural and properties in townships with views of wind farms, there was no clear evidence of any fall in sale price.

The Clean Energy Council have presented a wind energy fact sheet supporting a range of studies in Australia showing the wind farms do not have an impact on rural property prices, pointing to other drivers such as access to services as far more important.

Further, a CSIRO study cited in the Clean Energy Council fact sheet, also cited important factors such as income from locating wind farms on properties, less subdivision of land and community benefits from government and community funding and increased local business influencing local support of wind farms.

At his blog site, David Clarke has summarised research undertaken by former leader of the Victorian Greens Greg Barber in 2008/09 about renewable energy and property values, which demonstrates there are no long-time declines in property values associated with wind farms. These studies consistently indicate that there is no (or at least a weak) relationship between wind farms projects and negative prices for property sales.

It is conceivable perceptions of wind farms, positive or negative, may impact perceived property values by buyers. If buyers attach negative associations with wind farms, their perception of property values located close to wind farms may be lower. The same could be said of buyers who are supportive of wind projects who would either have a neutral or positive view of the impact of wind farms on property values. This was demonstrated in a study in Ontario, Canada which supports the view that perception is a contributing factor in property prices near wind turbines [7]. Beauty as always is in the eye of the beholder. ‘The evidence that property values do not decline alongside wind farm development suggests most buyers hold positive or neutral views of wind power, contrary to the claims by anti-wind campaigners, who continue to overestimate opposition to renewable energy.

One of the clearest examples of the relationship between wind farms and property values is the sale of the Woolangubra in Yass, NSW. The rural property benefits from the Bango wind farm site being partially situated on the 532 acre Woolangubra property when it recently sold for $375,000 above the reserve at $1.6 million. The farm is planned to be multi-use with sheep farming and the wind farm cohabitating on the property supplying a dual income for the owners.

While it’s likely that anti-wind campaigners will continue to appeal to people’s emotional attachment to property to whip up fear about the technology, the evidence from a range of studies has shown that predominantly, wind farms do not cause a decline in property values.

Get involved: Contact Yes 2 Renewables Coordinator patrick.simons@foe.org.au to get involved with the campaign for offshore wind

Support Y2R: Sign up as an Active Friend or make a once-off contribution to keep our campaign alive