Industrial Wind Turbines – A HOME BUYERS GUIDE
So, you're thinking of moving to idyllic, rural, West Wales, and you'd prefer not to end up living next door to a 200-odd feet high Industrial Wind Turbine … What can you do?
Well, three things you can't do are:
Rely on Solicitor's searches to pick up on any Industrial Wind Turbine Planning Applications in progress locally
Believe all the Seller's answers given on the Law Society Property Information Form (TA6)
Expect Estate Agents to share any local whispers of an IWT in the pre-planning stage
The above is based on the experiences of several people we have talked to, who have been horrified upon completion of their house purchase to discover an undisclosed Wind Turbine threat in the immediate vicinity of their new home.
How, then, can you stop it happening to you?
1. Don't imagine your Solicitor's search will standardly encompass a search for Planning Applications for Wind Turbines in the area.
It won't because, according to the Law Society:
'The type of searches to be performed, what these searches are for, and what these searches will cover, are usually dealt with in the letter of engagement'.
i.e. unless you have specified in that letter that you would like your solicitor to carry out a search for Wind Turbine Planning Applications, within a certain distance of the property you are buying, they won't – at least, not without charging an extra fee, which the Law Society warns could be 'prohibitive' for many clients.
They also state that :
'Most aspects of the local authority search however only relate to the property itself and not neighbouring land. This is true in the case of planning permissions'.
An obvious solution to the above is to conduct your own research. Most, if not all, Local Authorities have now made Planning Applications searchable on their web sites.
When conducting your research, we would suggest that – rather than searching just on the postcode of your prospective new home – you search the entire Planning Database, specifically on the word 'turbine'. You may pick up the odd hydro-power planning application but you will also get every entry pertaining to a Wind Power development within the Local Authority area. Scrolling through the list will then reveal any developments in planning for your part of the county.
It goes without saying, of course, that this search will only be relevant on that day – because new applications are being submitted all the time – but it's a start.
2. Be alert and vigilant regarding the Law Society Property Information Form (TA6), part of which your solicitor will ask the Seller to complete.
Unfortunately, the TA6 currently falls short of including any specific questions about Wind Turbines – and we have been informed that here are no current plans to change the format to encompass this.
There are, however, a couple of sections on the form, which could be used to obtain information regarding proposed Wind Power developments, locally.
These are 3.1 and 3.2 (under the main heading of Section 3 – Notices and proposals).
The wording of these sections is as follows:
3.1 - Have any notices or correspondence been received or sent (e.g. from or to a neighbour, council or government department), or any negotiations or discussions taken place, which affect the property or a nearby property? If yes, please give details.
3.2 - Is the seller aware of any proposals to develop property or land nearby, or of any proposals to make alterations to buildings nearby? If yes, please give details.
In the case of 3.1 there will almost certainly have been discussions or negotiations, started by the developers, with householders in the immediate vicinity of a planned Wind Turbine development - and potentially some correspondence from the council regarding it too. It's a good idea to ask your solicitor to stress that 3.1 should therefore be answered with this in mind.
As regards 3.2 the construction of a Wind Turbine would certainly constitute 'development' of land nearby and, again, your solicitor may be able to ensure this is bourne in mind when the Seller completes the form. The term 'nearby' is, of course, somewhat vague, but the normal radius for initial consultation with householders regarding a proposed Wind Turbine, is 1.5 KM. Given that answering 'yes' to 3.1 necessarily means answering 'yes' to 3.2 it could therefore be argued that 'nearby' in this context could be up to 1.5 KM.
It's also worth remembering that, while the notes at the start of the form stress the importance of giving accurate information (i.e. the Instructions to the Seller warn: If you give incomplete or incorrect information to the buyer … the buyer may make a claim for compensation from you …), it could be a long, and potentially costly process, to obtain this 'compensation'. Plus, the exact amount would be open to enormous conjecture – and it won't change the fact that the Wind Turbine will go up!
3. Don't rely solely on quizzing the Seller's Estate Agent regarding rumours of Wind Turbines, which have not yet gone into Planning.
It is all to easy for the Agent to deny any knowledge of something that isn't yet 'official' – especially if it could potentially affect a sale. It's far better, therefore, to once again conduct your own research. Visit pubs and shops, talk to people – take note of any posters or leaflets around the locality mentioning meetings being held, either by the developers, or by action groups opposed to Wind Turbines. This way, you are far more likely to learn of a potential threat.
We hope the above is of some help when looking for your ideal home ... and that it might enable you to buy with at least some degree of confidence regarding any immediate threat of an Industrial Wind Turbine in your area.
We also hope it doesn't put you off exploring the possibility of owning a home in Carmarthenshire. This is a beautiful area,often described as a 'hidden gem' of West Wales - but there's no doubt it's currently being targeted by developers wishing to cash in, with the landowners, on the financial gain to be made from the machines.
So - Buyer Beware!!
PS - If you've a story to tell regarding purchasing a property, and only later discovering the threat of a Wind Turbine close by, please tell us about it. Thanks!