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Does community ownership affect public attitudes to wind energy? A case study from south-west Scotland ESRC Seminar, Cardiff, 17-2-2009 Charles Warren.

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Presentation on theme: "Does community ownership affect public attitudes to wind energy? A case study from south-west Scotland ESRC Seminar, Cardiff, 17-2-2009 Charles Warren."— Presentation transcript:

1 Does community ownership affect public attitudes to wind energy? A case study from south-west Scotland ESRC Seminar, Cardiff, Charles Warren & Malcolm McFadyen School of Geography & Geosciences, University of St Andrews Scotland, UK

2 Does community ownership affect public attitudes to wind energy? A case study from south-west Scotland ESRC Seminar, Cardiff, Presentation Outline Scottish context Scottish context Research questions & study area Research questions & study area Summary of results Summary of results Conclusions Conclusions

3 SCOTTISHCONTEXT

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5 SCOTTISH CONTEXT Excellent resource + strong policy support rapid development of onshore wind power rapid development of onshore wind power

6 Windfarm footprint in Scotland, August 2008

7 BUT Rate & scale of development strong public opposition - esp. re landscape impacts strong public opposition - esp. re landscape impacts SCOTTISH CONTEXT Excellent resource + strong policy support lots of windfarms lots of windfarms Why? Perhaps due to the development model: private sector companies, with public private sector companies, with public subsidies, developing large windfarms subsidies, developing large windfarms ie. no direct community involvement Might community ownership result in greater social acceptability? greater social acceptability?

8 SCOTTISH CONTEXT Scottish politics: devolution in 1999 land reform process land reform process land purchases by local communities land purchases by local communities One community buyout - of the Isle of Gigha in resulted in the development of Scotlands first resulted in the development of Scotlands first community-owned, grid-connected windfarm, community-owned, grid-connected windfarm, commissioned in 2005 commissioned in 2005

9 RESEARCH QUESTIONS Tested three hypotheses: 1.Community-owned windfarms are associated with more positive local attitudes than windfarms owned by commercial companies 2.Support for wind power is low in areas with multiple windfarms, specifically as a consequence of visual impacts and cumulative effects 3.Windfarms make a region less attractive to tourists

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11 Tangy Windfarm, March 2007 Beinn an Tuirc Windfarm, March 2007

12 Isle of Gigha from the south-west, March 2007 Gigha: one of the three turbines, with the islands of Jura and Islay beyond Data gathered in autumn Likert-scale questionnaires (n = 106) + 5 interviews

13 RESULTS

14 Attitudes towards increasing development of wind power in Scotland as a whole Attitudes towards increasing development of wind power in the local area PositiveNegative PositiveNegative

15 RESULTS What are your two greatest concerns about wind power? Largest response category in both areas = no concerns Largest response category in both areas = no concerns Landscape impacts of windfarms were of concern to some. But … But …

16 PositiveNegative Respondents evaluation of the visual impact of windfarms on the local landscape Those perceiving visual impacts as positive outnumbered those who saw them as negative by >7:1 on Gigha and by almost 3:1 on Kintyre

17 RESULTS The influence of ownership: Turbines nicknamed the Three Dancing Ladies and given individual Gaelic names - Creideas, Dòchas & Carthanna (Faith, Hope & Charity) Creideas, Dòchas & Carthanna (Faith, Hope & Charity) Kintyre: 45% would be more positive if windfarms were Kintyre: 45% would be more positive if windfarms were owned by local communities Gigha: 65% would be less supportive of a Gigha: 65% would be less supportive of a commercial windfarm Gigha - reasons for support: economic: annual income of £85,000 economic: annual income of £85,000 symbolism, community pride - sense of ownership symbolism, community pride - sense of ownership Striking contrast to language of windfarm opponents …

18 RESULTS Tourist survey For 90% of tourists, windfarms were irrelevant The remainder were split 50:50 - attractive v. repellent

19 CONCLUSIONS - hypotheses revisited: 1.Community-owned windfarms are associated with more positive local attitudes than windfarms owned by commercial companies- SUPPORTED Community ownership doesnt magically turn opponents into Community ownership doesnt magically turn opponents into supporters. It appears to amplify positive attitudes and supporters. It appears to amplify positive attitudes and suppress negative ones. suppress negative ones. Contrasts between Kintyre and Gigha are differences of Contrasts between Kintyre and Gigha are differences of degree, not diametrically opposing viewpoints. degree, not diametrically opposing viewpoints. Attitudes are broadly supportive in both areas. Attitudes are broadly supportive in both areas. 2.Support for wind power is low in areas with multiple windfarms- NOT SUPPORTED 3.Windfarms make a region less attractive to tourists - NOT SUPPORTED

20 CONCLUSIONS Results imply that an increase in community ownership could increase public support for windfarms in Scotland & UK But: But: Has the UK missed the boat for widespread community-owned Has the UK missed the boat for widespread community-owned wind power projects? cf. recent Danish experience

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