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French Taxation

Taxe Foncière Rates Reduction due to Wind Farm

Thursday 03 June 2021

A couple win a reduction in their rates bill, due to the inconveniences caused by a local wind farm.

In the first case of its kind in France, a court in Nantes has granted to a couple a reduction in their taxe foncière rates bill due to the proximity of a wind farm.

The ruling concerned a property located in the commune of Lys-Haut-Layon, in the Maine-et-Loire department (Pays de la Loire).

Four wind turbines were installed in the village in 2017, 800 metres from the home of the couple, since when they have been seeking a reduction in their rates bill from the local tax authority.

In the face of a categorical refusal of their centre des impôts to grant them a reduction they brought an action in the courts.

The tribunal sitting in Nantes granted the reduction due to the noise and visual nuisances caused by the turbines.

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the tax authority decided not to appeal against the decision, which now opens the way for other local residents to make their own claim for a reduction in their rates.

More generally, it opens up the possibility of thousands of claims being made right across the country. There are over 8,000 wind turbines installed on land in metropolitan France and there are plans for many more. Inhabitants living nearby can now apply for a reduction in their rates.

Bernadette Kaars, the vice-president of the Fédération Environnement durable (FED) and director of the local association Tigné Préservé: "For the first time in France an administrative court has confirmed the link between the industrialisation of a rural area by wind turbines, its environmental nuisance and the decrease in value of a house. Wind turbines have been classified as a significant inconvenience by the court. This decision will apply until the machines are dismantled," she said.

Nevertheless, although inhabitants may be successful in getting a reduction in their rates, opponents of proposed wind farms have been less successful in basing their case on a reduction in the value of their property. Such cases dismissed by the courts, although they have been on stronger ground if they challenge it on the basis of protection of the environment or historic buildings. 

Notaires, estate agents and sellers have an obligation to inform prospective buyers of planned wind farms, but as we have previously reported, this is not an obligation that is always respected.

The level of the taxe foncière in a commune is based on the rental value of a property, with the later taking into account the environmental circumstances of the property. Although in most cases the coefficient that is used is neutral, where there is a material environmental nuisance, it can have a negative value.

The French tax doctrine provides for a compensation mechanism to apply to the benefit of local councils suffering from environmental nuisances and henceforth it would seem that victims of a nuisance from a wind turbine will be able to benefit from this mechanism.

According to Bernadette Kaars: "With this decision, the deterioration of the rental value of a property and the quality of the environment of the municipality is officially recognised."

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