More than any other renewable energy technology, wind farms have encountered heated opposition based solely on the absurd: They affect our health; They impact property values; They look ugly (this one being somehow a valid argument in some countries). However, two new studies have found that wind farms do not affect health or property values (those who think they are ugly presumably have no problem against power lines?).
A quick trip back through the CleanTechnica archives is proof that this is not a simple issue to resolve — either scientifically or publicly.
Wind Farms and Property Value
In 2009, a comprehensive study conducted by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory showed that neither the views of wind facilities or proximity to said-wind farms had any significant effect on property values. Skip forward to March of this year, and Mike Barnard, a Senior Fellow at the Energy and Policy Institute, writing for CleanTechnica wrote a comprehensive piece of his own asking one simple question: “How Many Studies Will It Take Before People Believe Wind Farms Don’t Harm Property Values?”
Nine major and statistically reliable studies covering roughly 270,000 property transactions by different respected and independent organizations in three different countries spread over fifteen years have found no correlation between operating wind turbines and negative property values (in fact, three found slight but statistically insignificant improvements).
However, in April, I wrote about a report conducted by the London School of Economics that found the proximity of large wind farms can drop house prices by up to 12% within a 2 kilometre radius.
Fast forward to today, and new research from the University of Guelph in Canada and published in a recent issue of the Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics has found that wind turbine developments have no effect on property values of nearby homes and farms.
The study analysed more than 7,000 home and farm sales in Melancthon Township (home to one of Ontario’s first and largest wind farms) and 10 surrounding townships in Dufferin, Grey, Simcoe, and Willington counties. Analysing sales data over an eight year period, the study found that the wind farms had “no statistically significant effect” on property values.
Wind Farms and Health
The University of Guelph study came a week after another study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that found living in close proximity to wind farms does not harm human health.
“No clear or consistent association is seen between noise from wind turbines and any reported disease or other indicator of harm to human health,” the MIT study reports. The report took into consideration health effects such as stress, annoyance, sleep disturbance, amongst others, and found that infrasound and low-frequency sound did not present unique health risks.
Iván Pineda, head of policy analysis at the European Wind Energy Association, said: “These results should lay to rest any concerns that some citizens may have with regard to living near wind turbines.”
As a disclaimer, the European Wind Energy Association noted that they, along with the Canadian wind energy association, CanWEA, had funded the study, but that neither were involved in the formulation of the results, and that MIT conducted the review independently.
This will no doubt invalidate the results, because as we’ve seen, reason plays no part in people’s dislike of wind farms.
Be thankful we’re not seriously considering painting them purple.
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