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The social acceptance of wind energy: Current thinking and implications for the future Dr Claire Haggett Landscape Research Group University of Newcastle.

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Presentation on theme: "The social acceptance of wind energy: Current thinking and implications for the future Dr Claire Haggett Landscape Research Group University of Newcastle."— Presentation transcript:

1 The social acceptance of wind energy: Current thinking and implications for the future Dr Claire Haggett Landscape Research Group University of Newcastle ESRC Seminar Series Where next for wind? Seminar 1: Explaining national variations in wind power deployment Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen 21 st February 2008

2 Overview Who protests against wind? Why they do protest? How they do protest?

3 Who protests? Individual gap between attitudes and behaviour Social gap between the high support expressed and the low success rate 1. Self Interest: rational free-riders Difference between hypothetical collective rationality and individual rationality Does not explain opposition from organisations 2. General principle of Qualified Support: impact on landscape, environment, humans 3. Democratic Deficit: the minority who oppose are effective Key question not about individuals but about how the minority are able to dominate Decide-announce-defend rationale

4 1) Free riders Nimby generally disregarded Largely incorrect Actual causes of opposition obscured, not explained People do not often in the rationale way it suggests Objections from non-proximate residents Label likely to breed resentment Devalues concerns Broadly used as a descriptor for all protest

5 2) Qualified support Change peoples minds Public deficit model Environmentally aware Take concerns seriously and address thoroughly through research; provide relevant and situated information that people can trust Change key features of particular developments

6 i) Landscape Landscape may be particularly valuable Support dependant on the plans Conflicting environmental aims Auchencorth Moss, Midlothian Valuable because of its beauty Sir Walter Scott: "I think I never saw anything so beautiful" Site would be visible from Pentland Hills, a designated area of great landscape beauty and containing an SSSI Valuable because of its rarity Site is visible from the one of the few areas in the UK considered totally unspoilt Site contains one of Scotland's few remaining raised peat bogs Value as national/international assets, not just on a local scale

7 ii) The Importance of Place Local social and historical context Particular siting and local relations crucial Place attachment Meaning attached to the social landscape Who is protesting? Which locals? What conceptions of the locality? Offshore windfarm off coast of Redcar Opposition group IMPACT: for people living near hazardous industry Local environments are valuable locally What facilities are provided/problems experienced dependant on local situation

8 iii) Local and Global Local issues not global warming Local concerns and understandings National benefits, local disadvantages Noise: regulations and limits in place (PPS22; BS 4142; ETSU-R-1997) But: 1) difficulties of measurement 2) rules of measurement 3) the experience of noise varies – crucial to understand the local impact on peoples lives

9 iv) Control and ownership Locals v outsiders Imposition of (inter)national interests Environmental values or profits? Opposition not to a development but the developer Fishers and developers: different views Ownership Developers: a national resource for national benefit Fishers: livelihoods, generational rights Direct or indirect compensation; necessity or extortion Control Developers: bending over backwards to consult Fishers: very little consultation, inappropriate means, and ineffective

10 3) Democratic deficit Power of the minority Impact on qualified supporters if concerns are not given a voice Protest shaped by the planning process Forced to act in this way Issues not responded to within the planning process Decide-announce-defend rationale Lack of communication perfect catalyst for creating opposition Nature of consultation Real involvement or going through the motions? Conclusions taken into account? Trust, social acceptance, and influence Fairness of outcomes and process

11 Processes Shift from competitive interest bargaining to consensus building Recognising all stakeholders and diverse interests Premises Under what auspices is engagement carried out? Democracy; Expertise; Pragmatism?

12 Processes Procedures How does the character of the decision-making process affect who participates? Eg fishing communities What kind of process would draw people in who reflect the initial balance of public opinion? Does everyone have the same influence in these processes? Should some have more influence? Eg shipping Who counts as local? Not homogenous Decisions can divide communities How can a balance be achieved between flexibility and a necessary framework?

13 How do they protest? Discourse: how protesters present their position as credible, robust and convincing may have practical implications for the outcome of the debate (Burningham, 2000:55) Avoiding issues of stake Invoking the global crisis: planet, not profit Peoples champions Balancing environmental issues Redefining the nature of the issue: wind farm Everyone is a David

14 Implications for the future Different ways of understanding opposition (Support and) opposition is motivated by: Landscape value Issues pertinent to the local context Issues of immediate concern Relationships with outsiders Opportunities for discussion and real involvement available

15 Questions to ask Is there local support for the siting of any development, and the specifics of it? Has the application demonstrated an understanding of the local area and the local people? Is the renewable energy development relevant for the community in which it is sited? Are the local advantages? Are there local disadvantages? Is the renewable energy site being developed with a community, rather than being imposing on it? Has full and open consultation and engagement been allowed? What form has that engagement taken? Who has been consulted? Meaningful action?

16 References Haggett, C. (forthcoming) Over the sea and far away? A consideration of the planning, politics, and public perceptions of offshore wind farms, in press at the Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning Haggett, C. (forthcoming) Public engagement in planning for renewable energy in S. Davoudi and J. Crawford (eds.) Planning for Climate Change: Strategies for mitigation and adaptation for spatial planners, London: Earthscan. Haggett, C., and Toke, D. (2005) Crossing the Great Divide – Using Multi-Method Analysis to Understand Opposition to Windfarms Public Administration 84, 1, Bell, D., Gray, T., and Haggett, C. (2005) Policy, Participation and the Social Gap in Windfarm Siting Decisions. Environmental Politics 14, 4, Gray, T., Haggett, C., and Bell, D. (2005) Windfarm Siting – the Case of Offshore Windfarms Ethics, Place and Environment 8, 2, Haggett, C., and. Vigar, G. (2004) Tilting at windmills? Understanding opposition to windfarm applications Town and Country Planning 73 (10) pp Haggett, C. (2004) Tilting at Windmills? Understanding the Attitude-Behaviour Gap in Renewable Energy Conflicts, British Sociological Association Conference, York, th March 2004 ESRC Tilting at Windmills? The Attitude-Behaviour Gap in Renewable Energy Conflicts (Environment and Human Behaviour Programme: award number RES )

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