For most landowners, the land on which they farm is their greatest appreciating asset. So what happens to land values when wind turbines are placed on the land or are located nearby?
In 2006 Henderson & Horning Pty Ltd conducted a study on the impact of land values of the Crookwell wind farm in New South Wales, Australia.
Their study examined the change in values:
- resulting from alterations in agricultural productive capacity of land on which wind turbines were sited
- from the improved viability of the land for agricultural purposes when the income stream derived from the wind turbines was factored into total farm income
- of land on which wind turbines were not sited but were clearly visible
Of the potential change in values resulting from altered productive capacity, the report states:
It is clear that the underlying agricultural productive capacity of the land subject to the wind farm and the surrounding property is not in any measured way affected by the development of the Crookwell wind farm meaning there has been no reduction in [land] values.
The report goes on:
Indeed the property subject to the [wind turbine] development enjoys additional revenue and has some added benefits from improved roads, erosion control and passive wind protection for stock from the sub stations and turbine tower structures.
The report stated that in the fifteen years prior to the study, the Crookwell area had been characterized by a change in land-use from larger grazing properties to smaller, rural residential holdings. However, the presence of the wind farm "has the potential to slow down the process of productive agricultural land changing to rural residential uses in the short to medium term with the shift caused by the additional income generated from the wind farm making the agricultural use viable."
But what about land where no income was derived from the wind turbines but from which they were visible?
The report states: "...we can see no measurable reduction in values for those properties that have a sight line to the [wind turbine] development".
It goes on to state that: "...factors such as soils, improvements and access to services are more important drivers in determining value then the visual amenity of the wind farm".
Another major report on land values and wind turbine development was prepared for the US Government in 2003. Entitled "The Effect of Wind Development on Local Property Values" and prepared by the Renewable Energy Policy Project, the report looked at land values associated with every US wind farm installation that came on-line between 1989 and 2001, and had an installed capacity of 10MW or greater.
The report examined the values of land from which the turbines were visible (called a "view shed") that extended up to 5 miles (8 kilometers) from the installation. Property values were collected for a 6 year period centered on the opening date of each windfarm. To allow valid comparisons, property values from similar communities without wind farm were also obtained. In all, more than 25,000 records of property sales were subject to statistical analysis.
The report stated:
If property values had been harmed by being within the view-shed of major wind developments, then we expected that to be shown in a majority of the projects analyzed. Instead, to the contrary, we found that for the great majority of projects the property values actually rose more quickly in the view shed than they did in the comparable community.
Moreover, values increased faster in the view shed after the projects came on-line than they did before.
Finally, after projects came on-line, values increased faster in the view shed than they did in the comparable community.
In all, we analyzed ten projects in three cases; we looked at thirty individual analyses and found that in twentysix of those, property values in the affected view shed performed better than the alternative.
The conclusion of the report authors was that:
The statistical evidence does not support a contention that property values within the view shed of wind developments suffer or perform poorer than in a comparable region. For the great majority of projects in all three of the Cases studied, the property values in the view shed actually go up faster than values in the comparable region.