A message to the
Ruth Davidson and Murdo Fraser addressed the inequalities of wind farms at the Stirling Mart recently. However this only partly addresses the issues and aims to bring us in line with Denmark who amended their compensation scheme in September 2014. In that people who are financially disadvantaged by the construction of wind turbines/farms can apply to the government for compensation which is calculated by an independent adjudication panel. The government then claim that money back from the developer. As the Scottish Conservatives state the SNP Parliament is totally besotted by their land reforms which could be seen as another target in the independence ambitions and surely runs contrary to it’s wind farm targets.
The truth is, and although Murdo Fraser understands it I am not sure Ruth Davidson does, that the impact of wind farms has little to do with property values but with quality of life. A cheque for the estimated loss in value (c. 20%) is little benefit if your views are trashed and you can’t sleep for the incessant noise during the limited times that the turbines are actually working and you can’t enjoy a summers day in the garden due to the persistent shadow flicker. Nor does it take account of those that have had their homes on the market for years with no viewings and no offers. That often happens from the day the wind farm goes into scoping and can last a minimum of three years even in the case of refused applications. For an approved application this can extend to the twenty five years life of a wind farms, not taking into account weasel words from Planners suggesting extensions to forty years will be normal. Of course we may suggest that wind farms have an expected life span closer to sixteen years but we are already seeing windfarms in Devon being re-engineered with new bigger turbines on the original footprint.
In a world where work often means you have to move half way across the country if not the continent, this can cause real stress to those involved.
So we have a government that can’t care a damn, sees land reform as a great move forward (think Mugabe and Zimbabwe) and a system that is morally corrupt. That a great number of opponents to wind farms are seen as incomers encourages the SNP to snipe and vilify opposition. However look deeper and consider that without inward migration these areas would be a disaster area with real grinding poverty not seen since the Clearances. Inward migration brings investment, jobs and even tourism. Had not those resident in the Glens sold their properties and moved from the area, inward migration would never have reached the levels it did. The necessary investment in these deprived areas would have been in the hundreds of millions whereas the investment has been in growth and infrastructure. A win-win situation for the country. Now we have the opposite with investment from off-shore companies buying turbines built all over europe and profits directed everywhere but Scotland. Just a trawl through the myriad of small operating companies will show that most make losses so no tax revenue for the UK whilst operational/financial charges go to offshore tax havens. Even the absentee landowners would make the latest HSBC tax avoidance schemes small beer.
So, yes, Scottish and rUK residents should be entitled to compensation and in fact for buy-out when the property won’t sell. If the wind farm company are so sure that properties won’t drop in value then surely, with their sqillions of profits, they would find no conflict to buy such properties at the accepted valuation and sell them on without loss. Of course we know that they know that these properties would be un-marketable. That is why they have proved so resistant to such suggestions.
However in discussing compensation we must not lose track of the fact that most people have invested a great deal both financially and emotionally in their properties and the only answer is to stop building on shore wind farms, move to new technologies including fracked gas, clean coal and nuclear on existing sites and stop trashing our beautiful scenery(accepted as the greatest reason for tourism in Scotland). In fact I would go so far as to call for a total moratorium on applications, to rescind any approved wind farms and to consider decommissioning and removal of all wind farms/turbines that were originally refused by local councils and subsequently approved by Ministers. I would also make mandatory a minimum distance, as agreed by a forum including residents/homeowners and representatives of walking/climbing groups etc, from wind turbines. In other words not just SNP appointed government officers, WWF, RSPB and Scottish Renewables, as has been the case up until now! Any on-farm/domestic/council turbines already built within those minimums would have to be decommissioned and removed or sited outwith the proscribed minimums. Compensation is nothing more or less than a bribe.
Any alternative is truthfully no alternative at all!