Tilting at windmills

Today’s Evening Standard informs me:

Windfarm owners in the country are used to facing legal challenges and complaints from nearby residents, who claim the ranks of vast windmills are an eyesore. But in Germany — Europe’s biggest user of windpower — it is the windfarms that are suing each other.

At the heart of the complaints is a bizarre but serious question: who owns the wind?

A court in Leipzig is currently hearing a case involving a dispute between two operators. One, whose farm is up and running already, is protesting that a planned bigger windfarm nearby will create a slipstream, decreasing the speed of the airflow to its own windmills.

The unwanted neighbour will, claims the complainant, hit the productivity — and the profits — of the original farm.

If you want to read the whole story, you can find it here, thankfully not behind a paywall. [You do have to register, though].

Intriguing. We have “ancient lights”, an archaic property law in the UK that protects the level of sunlight received by a window; we have riparian water rights as well as prior appropriation water rights, that protect the flow of water; now we have questions of wind ownership and wind rights.

What these three things have in common is something to do with the right to enjoy something that forms part of the commons, the right to protect a level of access to commons that existed beforehand. So if the internet was originally perceived as a commons, then…..

I wonder.

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