Million-pound a mile cost to Scottish homeowners affected by overhead cable plan

Ian Thornton-Kemsley (Galbraith)

GALBRAITH, the independent property consultancy, is warning that homeowners along a planned electricity pylon route stand to lose up to £1million per mile on the value of property prices as a result of the scheme.

SSEN Transmission plans to put up 70 miles of overhead lines from Kintore to Tealing in the east of Scotland as part of a major grid modernisation programme aimed at ensuring supply and maximising the use of renewable energy.

Galbraith estimates that collectively, residents could stand to lose approximately £1million per mile in property values along the planned route. An initial study of a section of the line, comprising 21 houses over one mile, estimates the capital value at about £10million.

While individual properties were not assessed, Galbraith believes there could be at least a 10% devaluation of affected property – more in some instances, as the more valuable the property, the greater the discount. That means reduced residential property values of at least £1million per mile, should the pylon plan proceed.

Independent Home Reports for properties put on the market near pylons often include warnings such as: “The property is located in close proximity to electrical pylons and overhead cables. The possible negative health effects of electromagnetic fields created by such equipment has been the subject of much media coverage. Although there are a number of studies regarding the possible link between ill-health and exposure to magnetic fields, the Government suggest this risk is very low. However public perception may affect the marketability and future value of the property.”

Cases in the Lands Tribunal for Scotland suggest reductions of between 10% and 30% in property values arising from new pylon lines, according to Ian Thornton-Kemsley, a consultant at Galbraith.

“Our agency department are already aware of a number of sales affected by the announcement of the pylons in the vicinity,” said Mr Thornton-Kemsley, who has considerable experience in respect of compensation claims and addressed a public meeting of more than 200 at the Angus Pylon Action Group in Forfar on Saturday.

The position is potentially even worse for borrowers, as the value of their homes could shrink below the mortgage balance owed, putting them at financial risk.

While reparation is sometimes paid for pylon installation, Mr Thornton-Kemsley believes many affected house owners will lose out as this is limited to instances where property rights are ‘taken’ by the infrastructure itself or by associated facilities.

He said SSEN did not appear to have considered this fully in deciding on pylons as they had not consulted with homeowners along the line, nor sought data on the extent of the effects on residential properties.

“SSEN have suggested house values would not be affected by pylons installed nearby at recent consultations. That flies in the face of existing evidence including a paper produced by Ofgem supporting the undergrounding of cables by SSEN.

“Landowners affected by the route stand to lose out but they are in the minority,” he said. “There will be a far greater number of house owners affected by the route and they will not receive compensation.” Changes in the route have already resulted in sales falling through, according to Mr Thornton-Kemsley, whose home is at Laurencekirk, a site along the route.

Those affected can submit planning objections though even this democratic right could be threatened, as Alan Brown, the Scottish National Party energy spokesman at Westminster, sought last July to add a clause to the UK Government’s Energy Bill that would prevent councils launching a public inquiry into infrastructure works.

Government proposals to give those affected property owners up to £1,000 a year off electricity bills over 10 years will do little to address this issue.

The latest stories