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« One small step for Science | Main | Solid rock »
Sunday
Jan262014

Windfarm blight or shale gas bounty?

The Mail on Sunday is reporting the results of a study at LSE, which found that wind turbines adversely affect house prices in their immediate vicinity.

The study by the London School  of Economics (LSE) – which looked at more than a million sales of properties close to wind farm sites over a 12-year period – found that values of homes within 1.2  miles of large wind farms were being slashed by about 11 per cent.

This is not exactly a surprise, but it's nevertheless good to have an academic study that supports the case that windfarms are a blight. And what a contrast to shale gas developments, with studies having found that their effect on house prices are almost entirely positive, with the possible exception of those households that utiilise ground water rather than mains supplies (which in the UK is very few people indeed).

Using data from New York and Pennsylvania and an array of empirical techniques to control for confounding factors, we recover hedonic estimates of property value impacts from shale gas development that vary with geographic scale and water source. Results indicate large negative impacts on nearby groundwater-dependent homes, while piped water-dependent homes are positively impacted by proximity (although by a smaller amount), suggesting an impact of lease payments. At a broader geographic scale, we find evidence that new wellbores can increase property values, but these effects diminish over time. Undrilled permits, conversely, may cause property values to decrease.

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Reader Comments (39)

Worth noting that in the US the surface owner owns the fossil fuel rights by default, unless they have been severed and sold separately. Hence the lease payments. In the UK the government nationalised all oil and gas in 1934.

http://www.bgs.ac.uk/mineralsuk/planning/legislation/mineralOwnership.html

So it is not necessarily the case that UK householders would see any uplift.

Jan 26, 2014 at 10:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterBen

I love the last three paragraphs

And Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the LSE, said: ‘These results are not really surprising as it is already known that people place a value on countryside views.’

A Department for Energy and Climate Change spokesman said: ‘Developments will only get permission where impacts are acceptable.’

A spokesman for Renewables UK, which represents the wind industry, said: ‘We will be analysing the conclusions closely when the final report is issued.’


Even fast-fingers believes it.
The DECC statement is a blatant lie; unless by "acceptable" they mean "acceptable to the Government".
RenewableUK will deny that the final report has any validity. Their computer model will show no effect on house prices.

My experience is that the impact of wind turbines and individual wind turbines on house prices is far worse than 'about 11%'. Some houses are virtually unsellable, and in many cases values are slashed by 30 to 50%. Estate agents have told some owners that there is no point in putting their house on the market as they will get nobody coming to view it.

Jan 26, 2014 at 10:10 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

"And Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the LSE, said: ‘These results are not really surprising as it is already known that people place a value on countryside views."

I wonder if this concession had to be ripped out of him with red-hot pliers? It does sound best when said through fiercely gritted teeth.

Jan 26, 2014 at 10:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

I don't see a flood of greeny activists rushing out to buy their dream properties under the shadow of a 400' turbine. Odd that. You would think the competition amongst those wishing to live the green dream would be immense. Where does Bob Ward lay his head? Or does he sleep in a coffin in a dungeon?

Jan 26, 2014 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterIvor Ward

Ivor: The only people who seem willing to live near a wind turbine are the farmers who can retire on the annual rental income. However, a lot of these farmers come to regret it as they find the visual impact and the noise are far worse than they were led to believe by the developer. They are totally unaware of how much damage they can do their health and that of their family. Basically they are conned by lying developers and the lure of easy money.

Jan 26, 2014 at 10:42 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

It's interesting to note that the Wytch farm oil site in Dorset that has horizontal drilling of over 10.5Km and has been fracked several times, is close to Poole Harbour and Sandbanks and they have some of the highest house prices in England. Not that I am saying the house prices are because of the fracking, but neither does it seem to drop them.

Jan 26, 2014 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered Commenterforester126

@ben
I doubt that any householders in the USA are aware or even being told that gas is being extracted a few kilometers under their property. The reason that the house prices are going up where the states have allowed fracking is that the jobs demand is so high. Rural states like the Dakotas are experiencing an oil and gas boom that supports other industries and the people working there are well paid and have to live somewhere. This is the converse of wind farms that support very very few people locally, destroy the country view and peace, and the profits are all made by the investing subsidy farmers from 'the city' and a single often absentee landowner.

Jan 26, 2014 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterIan W

Someone has to pay the price for clean (useless) energy and it won't be the Rich, Famous and Politicians.

Jan 26, 2014 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterA C Osborn

Ian W wrote, "I doubt that any householders in the USA are aware or even being told that gas is being extracted a few kilometers under their property."

Wrong!

... the driller has to have maybe 640 acres of contiguous mineral land for horizontal drilling of multiple wells from a central well pad to work. Very often that 640 acres of minerals the driller needs is made up of smaller tracts owned separately by different individuals. If one or more of them does not agree (or if a different driller holding the lease on one of them holds the horizontal driller hostage for an unreasonable payment) the driller cannot take the horizontal well bore through the gas bearing formation of the owner who is holding out. The hold out can spoil the accumulation of the amount of land needed in order for horizontal drilling from a central well pad to work. (The driller can drill the horizontal well bore right next to and along the boundary of the hold out and drain the gas out from under the hold out as long as the well bore does not go under them -- and the hold out will not get paid.)

There are laws in place in most other states, but only for some gas producing formations in West Virginia, that can solve this problem. We call it “forced well spacing and royalty sharing”, but the statutes call it “forced pooling and unitization”. Under these laws, if a driller accumulates the leases/the right to drill for a certain percentage of the 640 acres, then he can “force” the rest to allow drilling under (not on) their land. In return the “forced” owner gets their share of the royalties. And if they want, they can invest in the drilling and get a share of the working interest in the well.

Much more here ...
http://geology.com/articles/mineral-rights.shtml

The laws governing mineral rights in the US are rich and detailed and have been established over more than a century.

Two advances in technology have made some US rural land owners wealthy or at least very comfortable over the last few decades -- cell phones and fracking/horizontal drilling. People who own land that is higher than surrounding properties (best if next to a freeway or populated area) are receiving royalty payments for the cell tower built on the top of their hill. A big check makes an otherwise ugly structure quite beautiful.

Jan 26, 2014 at 1:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpeed

Im very susicious that GreenHedgefund PR man Bob Ward retweeted this .. Something going on .. They'll twist it to knock shale or something.

Jan 26, 2014 at 1:35 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Why don't you guys do something more constructive with your time? You're almost as bad as the Avoncliff guys. We have been chosen by government to carry out the most important work and we have the support of the public to do it. It's foolish to think you guys know what you are talking about.

Jan 26, 2014 at 2:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnonEA

Put a windfarm on Hampstead Heath. That might change the opinions of some of the most vociferous pro-windmillers.

Jan 26, 2014 at 2:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

It's now been covered in the Telegraph

Jan 26, 2014 at 2:39 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

As 'Chewin' the Fat" would say: "Mmweuthuhuhuhuhuhu..."

Jan 26, 2014 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

AnonEA
Would you like to tell us what you are talking about?
If EA stands for what I think it does, the evidence is piling up that "you guys" don't have much of a clue. I see the Somerset Levels is going to take a pasting again because "you guys" don't clear the ditches or dredge the rivers any more and then blame the result on climate change.
Neat cop out, that.

Jan 26, 2014 at 4:07 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

The LSE said 11%?

The true figure must be nearer 70% then.

Jan 26, 2014 at 4:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterRightwinggit

"
Ian W wrote, "I doubt that any householders in the USA are aware or even being told that gas is being extracted a few kilometers under their property."

Wrong!


... the driller has to have maybe 640 acres of contiguous mineral land for horizontal drilling of multiple wells from a central well pad to work. Very often that 640 acres of minerals the driller needs is made up of smaller tracts owned separately by different individuals. If one or more of them does not agree (or if a different driller holding the lease on one of them holds the horizontal driller hostage for an unreasonable payment) the driller cannot take the horizontal well bore through the gas bearing formation of the owner who is holding out. The hold out can spoil the accumulation of the amount of land needed in order for horizontal drilling from a central well pad to work. (The driller can drill the horizontal well bore right next to and along the boundary of the hold out and drain the gas out from under the hold out as long as the well bore does not go under them -- and the hold out will not get paid.)

There are laws in place in most other states, but only for some gas producing formations in West Virginia, that can solve this problem. We call it “forced well spacing and royalty sharing”, but the statutes call it “forced pooling and unitization”. Under these laws, if a driller accumulates the leases/the right to drill for a certain percentage of the 640 acres, then he can “force” the rest to allow drilling under (not on) their land. In return the “forced” owner gets their share of the royalties. And if they want, they can invest in the drilling and get a share of the working interest in the well.

Much more here ...
http://geology.com/articles/mineral-rights.shtml

The laws governing mineral rights in the US are rich and detailed and have been established over more than a century.

Two advances in technology have made some US rural land owners wealthy or at least very comfortable over the last few decades -- cell phones and fracking/horizontal drilling. People who own land that is higher than surrounding properties (best if next to a freeway or populated area) are receiving royalty payments for the cell tower built on the top of their hill. A big check makes an otherwise ugly structure quite beautiful.

Jan 26, 2014 at 1:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpeed

True, true; but it doesn't completely answer the question.

Facts concerning land transfers are serious business here in the states and are often contested strongly if all facts are not in evidence. In other words, if the landowner or agent knew of potential impacts to the property, such as drilling underneath; they're bound to inform the purchaser.
That's when rumors come into play and unlike facts where reality holds, rumors impact believers who then shy away from possibly detrimental impacts to their water supply. Unknown fears overwhelm basic knowledge.


Not that this is truly the reason for those detrimental impacts to house prices.

With all of the well water testing that has been going on, water quality tests which are required disclosure at property sale time, I suspect that this knowledge of well water quality is a major impact if not the major impact to impacting sale prices negatively. Many of these same wells with questionable quality have a distinct 'rotten egg' odor and aftertaste. Now after a little while, one hardly notices the sulfur dioxide flavoring and enjoys the sparkling clarity and freshness of well water. I suspect that the SO2 flavor comes from decomposing pyrite (FeS2) common in our shale and coal beds.

Water conditioners are common amongst well owners along with filters for potable water. Carbon filters take care of sulfuric and brimstone flavors/odors.

Consider that in the USA, mineral rights do not convey with the majority of house sales in urban and suburban areas nor even with many rural properties. Frankly, most people care only about their surface rights where their houses are.

My water source is a well, yet I do not 'own' mineral rights for my plot of land. I live far from valuable gas/energy resources sources and so will not be impacted by wells (drat!). The land where I live is heavily mineralized though and numerous old defunct gold mines are nearby. One prospect not too far away has identified substantial gold reserves at very low percentage to a very deep level. A condition that may exist over a very large area. Now if gold goes scarce and very pricey, I could be one of those holdouts... a far bigger danger is someone constructing a mall, golf course or massive suburban development. These identities like their water cheap and plentiful so they drill their own wells and then proceed to drain the aquifers and water levels drop. Springs, small streams and shallow wells dry up leaving a lot of us creatures without (this has happened near me, but not to me, yet).

Now, a relative of mine does own mineral rights with their land; and they have received requests from energy companies regarding access to gas below their land. They've passed on the opportunity, for the moment, after all why rush?

Jan 26, 2014 at 5:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterATheoK

ZOOPLA tells me that Balcombe house prices are up 12% over 2 years. Not too shabby.

Jan 26, 2014 at 5:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

I guess LSE didn't use Zoopla.

Jan 26, 2014 at 6:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

To add to the first comment by Ben at 10:06
Many folks “in the Hills” sold the mineral rights long ago. The book “Night Comes to the Cumberlands” (1962) by Harry Caudill (a brief entry in Wikipedia) explains the nature of this transfer of hidden wealth. Away from the mountains this may have happened less or not at all. Maybe someone has a map.

Speed at 1:15 quoted a section about mineral rights that mentions the 640 acre parcel.
The 640 acres requirement is interesting. That is the grid size of the Public Land Survey System (PLSS) [ http://www.nationalatlas.gov/articles/boundaries/a_plss.html ] that began experimentally in Ohio and used in much of the US. The map at the link shows this at a state level but there are prior landholdings that remain as they were before the PLSS. The early colonies used a “metes and bounds” survey system and does not fit with the one square mile grid system. Those charged with acquiring the permits have tough jobs.

I can see wind towers from by kitchen window. They are 15 miles away. That's close enough.

Jan 26, 2014 at 6:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn H. Hultquist

More often than not, in USA, the current surface owner does not retain underground rights. A long time ago land owners got smart about what they sold.

Jan 26, 2014 at 6:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Schneider

Eddie O'Connor, the Irish wind "farm" promoter whose $250,000 rowboat through Canada's (a new "key market for Mainstream") melting Arctic was blocked by "ice, ice and more ice", begs to differ:

"Building wind farms in an area increases the economic activity locally.....The demand for houses goes up, with the inevitable consequence that the price does as well."

Not only real estate, tourism booms as well:
"The general public are interested in wind farms. They come to see them, these examples of rural architecture rendered in poetry."

Californians (naturally) even go on pilgrimages:

"The Sierra club of Southern California leads walkers annually for a stroll among the thousands of wind turbines that line the Tehacapi (sic) pass."

No mention whether they collect relics from California condor and raptor bones.

http://eddie.mainstreamrp.com/the-truth-about-wind-power/#more-223

Jan 26, 2014 at 6:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterBetapug

Dis anyone else see the "debate" on Channel 4 news this afternoon when Peter Lilley displayed considerable restraint when some rabid, slavering ecoMENTAList (Vanessa) called him a liar and raised all the usual spectres of "fracking"?
Why they give these Luddites airtime is beyond me.

What a pity the BBC does not provide equal weight to "Sceptics"

Jan 26, 2014 at 6:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitter&Twisted

Betapug,

Interesting website from this O'Connor character - is he spoofing or has he modelled himself on Saul Goodman? I think we should be told.

Jan 26, 2014 at 7:28 PM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor

I do not understand why sensible people keep on calling windmills that generate electricity "wind turbines". The only difference between a "wind turbine" and a windmill is the generator that is attached to the blades.

Taking that further: is a windmill with grinding machinery, or with wood saws, or with water pumps also promoted to "wind turbine"? If not why not?

"Wind turbine" is just marketing speak invented by the promotors of wind generated electricity, to hide the fact that wind energy still basically is a 17th century energy technology, an idea that was left standing as soon as steam engines were invented.

Jan 26, 2014 at 7:30 PM | Registered CommenterAlbert Stienstra

ATheoK wrote, "Consider that in the USA, mineral rights do not convey with the majority of house sales in urban and suburban areas nor even with many rural properties. Frankly, most people care only about their surface rights where their houses are."

Do you have a reference for that statement?

Those interested in "Basic information about mineral, surface, gas and oil rights" (US only) should look at this article.
http://geology.com/articles/mineral-rights.shtml

Jan 26, 2014 at 10:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpeed

Probably just some of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi's magnificent thesis finding its place in the literature.

Jan 26, 2014 at 11:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Looks like a bit of journalistic licence in the article as the working report actually says:
" In contrast, the current study has 28,951 quarterly, postcode-specific housing price observations over 12 years, each representing one or more housing transactions within 2km of wind farms (about 1.25 miles). Turbines are potentially visible in 27,854 of these. There is therefore a much greater chance than in previous work of detecting price effects if these are indeed present."
Took me about 5 mins to find the report and give it a quick scan since the "more than a million property sales..." sounded far too many.

Jan 26, 2014 at 11:37 PM | Registered Commentermikeh

Sorry to be a grammar N@sty, but "wind turbines adversely effect house prices in their immediate vicinity" should read AFFECT. [Oops. Corrected now,thanks BH.]

Jan 27, 2014 at 2:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterCrossBorder

"
ATheoK wrote, "Consider that in the USA, mineral rights do not convey with the majority of house sales in urban and suburban areas nor even with many rural properties. Frankly, most people care only about their surface rights where their houses are."

Do you have a reference for that statement?

Those interested in "Basic information about mineral, surface, gas and oil rights" (US only) should look at this article.
http://geology.com/articles/mineral-rights.shtml

Jan 26, 2014 at 10:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpeed"

Reference? why? Your geology link site preaches a bit on the anti-mineral harvest tune. Is that why you want a reference? Or is the demand intended to silence?

Homeowner experience doesn't count? Should I mention spending hours researching mining claims in courthouses?

Tell you what; here is a link for initiating a permit to drill a gas well in Virginia; http://www.dmme.virginia.gov/DGO/PermitRequirements.shtml. Notice the need to 'inform' owners of mineral rights and owners of surface rights. Also note that 'coal' owners are not directly included as either mineral or surface rights owners. That's one clue.

In the States, there are different rules and approaches depending on when white man settled the land. In the eastern states it is jumbled because of 'land grants' from various monarchies that granted all land rights. Otherwise the state itself owns most of the mineral resources and is happy to lease them if there is a profit. Some of the southwestern states, including Texas, have a similar issue with Spanish 'land grants'. Still, most large dwelling areas like cities and suburbs have sold their mineral rights separate from surface rights.

For Federal lands, many of those lands the mineral rights are reserved by the Federal government, unless one actually files a mining claim.
Check http://www.blm.gov/public_land_statistics/pls12/pls2012-web.pdf; down the bottom of page one you'll notice

"...Today, the BLM administers about 247.3 million surface acres of public land and approximately 700 million acres of Federal subsurface mineral estate in the United States..."

Seven hundred million acres of 'subsurface mineral estate' is approximately one third of USA's total acreage, which allows plenty of land for cities, towns, municipalities, corporations, and even for ordinary land owners. Those ordinary land owners are not the majority and they're definitely not 'most' who happen to own a house.


Personally I've owned houses and lived in multiple states. I've also shopped for land in several states. Most Americans who own a house, especially modern (after 1900) houses on platted for development lands, purchased their house without mineral rights. Those rights are often held by the governing authority who accepted/approved the land plat designs.

Ever hear of an American governing entity (cities, municipalities, towns, etc) seeking land owner permissions for any sub-surface work? If sub surface drilling cracks your foundation, it is up to the land owner to document, seek and prove damage. A situation roughly similar to land near wind farms where the residents must 'prove' their claims against the wind farms.

Given how common and how easy it is to drill gas or oil wells in much of America, I seriously doubt that it is the drilling affecting house prices, except for the greenies who believe in green scares; however on the record issues with existing well water quality bother many shoppers looking at properties and houses. Fracking is neither unusual nor uncommon here in the states which is why, I think, that study chose to target Pennsylvania where water quality issues are known and were known long prior to drilling or fracking.

Jan 27, 2014 at 2:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterATheoK

@albert sienstra

They are called wind turbines because that is what they are. From wikipedia:

A turbine, from the Greek τύρβη, tyrbē, ("turbulance"),[1][2] is a rotary mechanical device that extracts energy from a fluid flow and converts it into useful work. A turbine is a turbomachine with at least one moving part called a rotor assembly, which is a shaft or drum with blades attached. Moving fluid acts on the blades so that they move and impart rotational energy to the rotor. Early turbine examples are windmills and waterwheels."

Speaking as an ex- marketing person, I would say that the idea that "wind turbine" is marketing speak is just wrong. Any marketing person would kill to get people talking about "windmills", because it invokes bucolic visions of those small, wooden dutch mills next to streams, gently turning in the breeze; and not the monster industrial installations that we in fact get.

The same thing can be seen when people talk about "green", "clean" or "renewable" energy. When I was at university this was called " persuasive definition":

"A persuasive definition is a form of definition which purports to describe the 'true' or 'commonly accepted' meaning of a term, while in reality stipulating an uncommon or altered use, usually to support an argument for some view, or to create or alter rights, duties or crimes.[1][2] The terms thus defined will often involve emotionally charged but imprecise notions, such as "freedom", "terrorism", "democracy" (wikipedia again).

What I would really like is for people to stop talking altogether about wind farms, and start calling these things what they really are: power stations.

Jan 27, 2014 at 6:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterAsmilwho

Asmilwho - agree that turbine is applicable - hydro-electric turbines have been around for 100 years, so it is not a marketing excercise by the wind scammers. But I disagree about calling wind turbines power stations, as that implies they are actually productive. Subsidy Farms is my favourite.

Jan 27, 2014 at 8:30 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Jan 27, 2014 at 6:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterAsmilwho

It is unadvisable to refer to Wikipedia for proper definitions of anything; definitions are changed by all sorts of people to suit their needs. I am well up to date with classical languages and do not need etymological advice. Shades of grandmothers and eggs. In any case, the etymology has nothing to do with the mechanical definition of a turbine. I will stick to the description from my "Handboek der Mechanische Technologie".

The essence of a turbine is that it is an enclosed device where kinetic energy from fluid or gas at high pressure is converted into rotational energy. The so-called "wind turbines" are not enclosed devices, nor are high pressures involved.

According to you your post, all windmills are wind turbines. That is not helpful, it is slightly silly.

Jan 27, 2014 at 8:48 AM | Registered CommenterAlbert Stienstra

Re: Asmilwho

> They are called wind turbines because that is what they are. From wikipedia:

From wiki:

A windmill is a machine that converts the energy of wind into rotational energy by means of vanes called sails or blades.

In the case of modern windmills that rotational energy is then converted into electricity using an alternator..

Jan 27, 2014 at 9:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Please do not cite Wikipedia as if it was an authoritative source. There seems to be an all too common misconception that it has some sort of editorial control over accuracy and content, which is not true. It is essentially a blog with no overall moderation, a free for all where the biggest obsessive with the best grasp of how to play the wiki game and the most spare time wins control of any given entry.

Their supposed oversight body, the "arbcom" is subject to the same problem, and anyway specifically declines responsibility for "content disputes"

See wikipediocracy.com for more detail.

When using search engines it is simple to append "-Wikipedia" to your search terms which will remove the rubbish from the results.

Jan 27, 2014 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterNW

ATheoK wrote, "Consider that in the USA, mineral rights do not convey with the majority of house sales in urban and suburban areas nor even with many rural properties. Frankly, most people care only about their surface rights where their houses are."

I asked him, "Do you have a reference for that statement?"

His response was, "No."

Jan 27, 2014 at 12:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpeed

Well - who'd have thought it..?

Hopefully moving house shortly, and I shall make it my business to check that, not only can I not see any wind turbines from my proposed purchase, but I shall check as thoroughly as I can that there are none PROPOSED within a ten-mile radius...

Interesting article in The Sunday Times this week by Charles Clover, who tends to be of a mildly 'warmist' leaning, but on this occasion he is really having a go at: Single wind turbines.
His point..? That they cause the 'maximum blight to the landscape with minimum benefit to the planet'.
Absolutely right - and he goes on to make the further point that they can also be a 'Trojan Horse' for the approval of more - once there's one, what's the harm in having a load more..?

Jan 27, 2014 at 1:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1

Re: Sherlock1

You can find out where they are constructing or have consent to build here.

Jan 27, 2014 at 3:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

The above quote from Wiki rather proves NW's point as the term "windmill" obviously describes a mill powered by wind as opposed to, say, water. The machinery used is immaterial: I have seen a watermill powered by a turbine.

Jan 28, 2014 at 11:36 AM | Registered Commentermikeh

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