MEMBER for Hume Angus Taylor says rural land owners who’ve had their properties devalued by neighbouring wind farms deserve to be compensated.
His comments come follow the publication of a preliminary report into the issue, which showed properties across the region that adjoined either energy developments or proposed energy developments had seen 33 to 60 per cent write downs.
Mr Taylor was not surprised by the findings, saying the study showed a clear case for compensation.
“The study shows potentially dramatic negative impacts on the value of property located near wind farms. In some cases, land has been identified as dropping up to a staggering 60 per cent in value,” the Hume MP said.
“Agents have been forced to brand some properties as virtually unsaleable. In other instances, agreed sales have failed to proceed after the purchasers have become aware of local wind farm plans.
“This is a clear case for compensation to the non-host landowners.
These losses in real estate value completely overwhelm the small amounts of financial assistance being offered by developers to local communities living near the turbines. It’s yet another reason why we have to review the large subsidies going to this industry.”
Mr Taylor vowed to continue his campaign against “the bad economics” of the heavily subsidising wind energy developments, when there were “far cheaper ways to reduce carbon emissions”.
“I am also keenly focused on ensuring that landowners and local towns and villages, many located in the electorate of Hume, get a fair deal,” he said.
One man who believes he has definitely been given a raw deal is Jim Hutson, who lives next door to the Gullen Range Wind Farm.
He has been trying to sell his property for five years now. He has advertised with four different agents and in the entire time he has only had one person enquire.
When they were told about the wind farm that was to be built next door they left and didn’t come back.
“As soon as the agents mention the turbines that are going up on the hill they do a 180 and walk back out the front door and that’s the end of the story,” he explained.
“In the meantime, I’m stuck out there. I don’t want to live there.
We have got two kids who live in Tamworth and my wife wants to move up there... but we can’t because we’re locked in down into 25 years of home detention.
“If you can’t sell your property you’re there and you don’t want to be there. It gets you down a bit actually.”
Mr Hutson said the entire district had become polarised on the issue. Neighbours, who were once close friends, no longer speak.
“Wind turbine hosts have ripped probably in excess of $100 million in property values – that’s a rough estimate – from the surrounding area of the wind turbines which produce a piddly amount of electricity – sometimes – when the wind blows and nothing when it doesn’t and nothing if the wind is too strong… the whole thing is the world’s biggest fraud,” he said.
David Books and John Benjamin also live next door to the Gullen Range Wind Farm and conveyed similar sentiments.
Mr Benjamin is currently trying to sell his property and has no doubt the neighbouring development has devalued his asset.
“The economic impact on areas like this, within three hours of Canberra and Sydney, is huge,” he told the Post.
“The landscape here is a fabulous asset that brings more money. People buy properties. Now that market is buggered.”
The grazier believed one of the biggest problems was that people had forgotten the original objective: reducing greenhouse gasses.
He says the government has gone off on a tangent.
“They’re obsessed with producing green energy. Because of that, the real issues are often never solved,” he said.
Mr Brooks believed the entire wind industry was a train wreck waiting to happen, saying there were unresolved issues surrounding health and that the state government showed bias toward developers.
“Unfortunately nothing’s going to change,” he said.
“Since O’Farrell got in they’ve said, ‘We can’t do anything. It’s been approved. If we were to establish a moratorium, we’d be sued’.
“There doesn’t seem to be an alternative… There’s no solution. They really ought not be here. Plus they’re hugely inefficient… The only way we get anything out of this is if we took the developers to court but that’s terribly expensive.”
Gold Wind did not return requests for comment before the time of print.
‘There’s no case for compensation’
WIND industry consultant Nick Valentine has questioned the credibility of the Peter Reardon report, stating that at least one of the properties mentioned in the study had a number of other devaluing aspects, including poor drainage and agricultural capacity.
“I have reviewed the Reardon report and to me it doesn't stand up to scrutiny,” he said.
Mr Valentine believed the sample set was far too limited to draw a conclusion. He also didn’t think there was a case for compensation.
“It doesn’t happen in any other industry and I think it would set a dangerous precedent,” he said.
The consultant believed that ‘wind farm stigma’ was having a bigger impact on property values than the developments themselves.
He said the health concerns surrounding turbines had been blown completely out of proportion and that many neighbouring property owners were ‘talking down’ the value of their own asset.