Onshore wind farms suffer blow

Campaigners against onshore wind turbines are celebrating after winning two significant victories last week. The Government has cut subsidies for wind farms by 10% from 2013, and the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), which sets Council Tax bands, has acknowledged that the proximity of wind turbines can affect property prices.

In what appears to have been a compromise between the Liberal Democrat-led Department for Energy and Climate Change and the Chancellor, George Osborne, the latter reportedly agreed to drop demands for deeper cuts in subsidies-backbenchers were calling for 25% to halt ‘the march of the turbines’-in order to ensure that the Coalition could agree on retaining a significant role for natural gas in the power sector.

The Government will consider how local communities can have more of a say over, and receive greater economic benefit from, hosting onshore wind farms, and support for tidal stream and wave power will be more than doubled as part of the measures. Energy Secretary Ed Davey’s announcement also included £500 million in tax breaks for shallow water gas fields and an emphasis on the use of biomass in converted coal power stations, a move welcomed by the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) as a ‘diversification of the windcentric policy’.

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REF policy director Dr John Constable says: ‘There are genuine concerns about the sustainability of biomass feedstocks, and the industry must deliver high standards in order to retain public confidence, but the potential for lowcost, fully controllable biomass electricity is large.’

Simultaneously, in what could become a landmark ruling by a Government agency, the VOA has admitted that properties can sharply decrease in value when situated within sight or earshot of turbines-a factor that has previously been considered subjective.

In Devon, a couple saw £100,000 taken off the value of their home and its Council Tax band lowered from F to E as a result of the constant noise and visual intrusion of wind turbines.

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