UK ruling strengthens Midlands windfarm project

The company behind the Greenwire windfarm project received a boost from an unexpected source this week with the news that the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA ) has banned a leaflet which stated ‘home values will fall’ if sited near wind turbines.

An anti-windfarm campaign in Wiltshire has had a leafleting campaign stopped by the Authority because the protest group did not have the evidence to claim that valuations ‘will’ fall.

“We considered that the claim ‘house prices will fall’ was a strong and absolute claim, and we expected to see robust documentary evidence to show that property prices in the local area would be reduced as a direct result of the windfarm development,” said a spokesperson for the ASA.

“[The protest group] explained that although estate agents were willing to give their views [on house prices] orally, they were unwilling to do so in writing,” said the ASA ruling.

The watchdog then dismissed evidence provided by the campaigners, including a letter from one local estate agent, which had been provided after the leaflet was written, and did not state that any property had fallen in value.

It also noted that the current guidance from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors gives no definitive answer on the question of whether or not windfarms affect property prices.

“There is no peer-reviewed research which definitively states that wind turbines have a negative impact on property prices. It was very interesting to see the British Advertising Standards Authority move to ban claims that windfarms depress property prices last month,” said CEO of Element Power Ireland, Tim Cowhig.

Element Power is the company behind the Greenwire project, a plan to erect 600 wind turbines across five Midland counties in an €8bn project to sell 3,000 megawatts of electricity to the UK by 2018. One hundred of these are planned to be erected on private land in Westmeath.

Mr Cowhig went on to say that “Spurious claims that windfarms cause a drop in the value of adjacent properties were being made on a regular basis by a small group of anti-wind campaigners in the Midlands”.

“I think the ruling by the ASA sets a precedent that false and mischievous claims about wind energy are not going to go unchallenged. Our company is committed to providing factual peer-reviewed information and that is what we have been doing through our public information days in counties Kildare, Laois, Meath, Offaly, and Westmeath.

“Some people may not like or agree with the information we are providing, however, they shouldn’t try to mislead, confuse, or muddy the waters by peddling information which is factually incorrect. Minister Pat Rabbitte summarised the issue best on local radio last week when he said the concerns which were being whipped up and preyed on by anti-wind campaigners were ‘entirely unfounded’ and amounted to ‘unnecessary fear’,” concluded Mr Cowhig.

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