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Beyond Nimbyism: Public engagement with renewable energy Dr. Patrick Devine-Wright St. Andrews University May 6th 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "Beyond Nimbyism: Public engagement with renewable energy Dr. Patrick Devine-Wright St. Andrews University May 6th 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 Beyond Nimbyism: Public engagement with renewable energy Dr. Patrick Devine-Wright St. Andrews University May 6th 2009

2 Summary The Beyond Nimbyism research project Key findings –Looking across the case studies –Gwynt y Mor offshore wind farm Conclusions

3 Beyond Nimbyism project Six UK Universities (Lancaster, Loughborough, Manchester, Northumbria, Strathclyde and Surrey) Multidisciplinary team drawn from Psychology, Geography, Political Science, Sociology and Engineering Aim to deepen understanding of public responses to renewable energy technologies Focus upon public engagement, since many experts have claimed that more or better engagement is key to increasing public acceptance Beyond Nimbyism title reflects the fact that many social scientists have been critical of the use of this term to describe or explain public opposition

4 Work streams 1.Literature review 2.Conceptions of publics and public engagement Interview study: technology trajectories and conceptions of public engagement Media analysis: Representations of RETs 3.Development of a new conceptual framework 4.8 case studies of specific projects

5 Our approach to researching public engagement The outcome of the interaction between two processes: 1.How industry and policy actors conceive and engage with diverse publics 2.How local residents conceive and respond to a) specific projects and b) the engagement activities undertaken during those projects by developers and other organisations

6 RE actors in networks public actors in places interactions meetingsexhibitions letters media reports leaflets protests petitions expectations of the public engagement strategies and approaches expectations of projects and process engagement actions

7 Our 8 case study locations


9 In each case ….. Standardised methodological approach –In-depth interviews with key stakeholders –Focus group discussions with local residents –Questionnaire survey of local residents Bespoke tools designed by the project team Developed standard coding frame for analysis of qualitative data using MaxQDA This allows us to make comparisons across case studies and sectors

10 Summary of participants 71 stakeholders were interviewed 249 residents took part in focus group discussions 2911 residents completed our questionnaire survey 3251 people participated in the project

11 Analysis across the case studies Putting the NIMBY concept to the test That those who oppose: –believe renewable energy is a good idea, just not in their back yard –incomers to the area –those living closest to the site –older people

12 Results Only 2% of our sample (61 people out of 2674) strongly supported renewable energy generally but strongly opposed the project in their local area Our analyses found no relation between peoples support for a project and their –length of residence in the area –perceived proximity of home to the project site –age –gender –education level Lack of support for the NIMBY idea

13 Gwynt y Mor Offshore wind farm 750 MW: 200+ turbines, 13km distant from the shore npower Renewables - third project in the area, after North Hoyle (2004, 60MW, 30 turbines) and Rhyl Flats (in construction, 90mw, 25 turbines)


15 Project trajectory From late 2004, developer began public engagement across the North Wales coast using a variety of consultation methods, repeated in late 2005 at time of submission of application November 2005: planning application submitted by developer February 2006: objections by statutory consultees, including local authority Save our Scenery action group set up to oppose the project; Sustainable Energy Alliance set up to support the project August 2007: revisions to planning application submitted by the developer November 2007: developer announced a community benefit offer March 2008: SOS submits request for public inquiry to Welsh Assembly December 2008: project consented by DECC in London

16 Research methodology Mixed methods: qualitative and quantitative Six in-depth interviews with developer, two local councillors, opposition group, support group, CCW Six focus group discussions with local residents, two each in the towns of Rhyl, Colwyn Bay and Llandudno (n = 44) Questionnaire surveys distributed to local residents using a drop and collect method –Llandudno (n = 220) –Colwyn Bay (n = 237) Data collected between March-July 2008, pre-consent

17 Results Levels of support for the project Local impacts: benefits and drawbacks Place: meanings and attachments Perceptions of the community benefit offer Trust Fairness and planning procedures



20 What kind of place is Llandudno / Colwyn Bay? beautiful, beautiful view of the bay, beautiful scenery, pretty, heaven, elegant, picturesque, stunning location dying, in decline, scummy, horrible, grim, sad, unloved, depressing, dump, shabby, bypassed, forgotten, tired, faded, dirty, untidy

21 Impacts: financial and symbolic 1. 49.5% of Llandudno respondents agreed with the statement: The offer is a bribe to silence local opposition The rather late timing (2007) of its announcement in the planning process may have contributed to this view 2. The opposition group played upon shared beliefs that Llandudno is a distinctively beautiful, historic natural place - an escape from urban life These beliefs constitute place-related identity processes They argued that the project would threaten the place by industrialising the area, fencing in the bay and damaging tourism Significant relation between a sense of attachment to Llandudno and negative emotions (threat), negative attitudes to the project and willingness to oppose the project


23 Trust in developer

24 Average levels of trust (on a scale of 1-5) LlandudnoColwyn Bay Opposition group* 3.393.05 Local council2.552.69 Welsh Assembly2.322.39 Developer1.942.17 BERR1.821.98 *Statistical analyses showed that residents in each of the two places were not statistically significant, except for their trust in the opposition group


26 Unfair, secretive, distant? 1. In Llandudno, 31.6% of respondents strongly disagreed with the statement I think the planning process for Gwynt y Mor has been fair There were a large number of neutral responses, particularly in Colwyn Bay (52.5%) 2. 48.6% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that the planning process was secretive, and these did not differ significantly across the two places 3. Only 6.9% agreed that the final decision on Gwynt y Mor should be made in London 74.8% disagreed or strongly disagreed

27 Conclusions Varying patterns of local public support across the case studies provide evidence of substantial social consent as well as opposition to projects The NIMBY concept is a limitation in terms of how we think about and practice public engagement We need to nurture and protect existing social consent by –Reconceiving siting as emplacing technologies (physical and symbolic/affective aspects) –Drawing on local knowledge and enhancing local benefit –Implementing meaningful and full engagement practices –Devising fair and transparent decision processes But this is not a formula for public acceptance - one size does not fit all …..

28 Thank you To my colleagues Yuko Howes and Hannah Devine-Wright; to the project team, survey distributors and all participants; and to the funding agency: Research Councils Energy Programme/Economic and Social Research Council (Grant Ref: RES-125-25).

29 What were the key factors? Support linked most strongly with whether local residentsCorrelation - felt positive emotions about the project.72 - thought the project would benefit them and local area.71 - supported the technology sector generally.60 - trusted the project developer.54 - thought that planning procedures were fair.51 -thought the developer had engaged fully, fairly and openly with local people (e.g. provided a lot of info).50 - supported renewable energy generally.45 - were concerned about climate change.14 Caution required since these are simply correlations - may be shared variance

30 Was conflict inevitable? Values and the Victorians 1. The opposition group Theres so much history and heritage attached to it [Llandudno]; its a very special area and people have a deep love for it and we dont want to see it spoiled …. We want to preserve that for future generations …. we want to keep it that way 2. One focus group participant Llandudno was built and set out by the Victorians, and its my opinion that had they had the technology at that time [i.e. wind turbines], they would have proceeded with this scheme, along with the pier and the electric trams and wed have all been very pleased with the achievement, to be quite honest, and we would have accepted it.

31 Gwynt y Mor Conclusions Location: is it the wrong place for a wind farm? –Physically (bay) and symbolically (restorative) –Crown Estate/Llandudno Benefits: developers community benefit offer too late (mistrust) to shape support? Planning: –No dialogue between the parties –DECC: a black hole in a different country

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