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

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the social acceptance of wind energy current thinking and implications for the future

ESRC Seminar Series ‘Where next for wind?’

Seminar 1: Explaining national variations in wind power deployment

Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen 21st February 2008

The social acceptance of wind energy: Current thinking and implications for the future

Dr Claire Haggett

Landscape Research Group

University of Newcastle

overview
Overview
  • Who protests against wind?
  • Why they do protest?
  • How they do protest?
who protests
Who protests?
  • Individual gap between attitudes and behaviour
  • Social gap between the high support expressed and the low success rate
    • Self Interest: rational ‘free-riders’
      • Difference between hypothetical collective rationality and individual rationality
      • Does not explain opposition from organisations
    • General principle of ‘Qualified Support’: impact on landscape, environment, humans
    • 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
1 free riders
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
2 qualified support
2) Qualified support
  • Change people’s 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
i landscape
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
ii the importance of place
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
iii local and global
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

iv control and ownership
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
3 democratic deficit
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
processes
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?
processes12
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?
how do they protest
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
    • People’s champions
  • Balancing environmental issues
  • Redefining the nature of the issue: wind ‘farm’
  • Everyone is a ‘David’
implications for the future
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
questions to ask
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?
references
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, 103-120
  • Bell, D., Gray, T., and Haggett, C. (2005) ‘Policy, Participation and the ‘Social Gap’ in Windfarm Siting Decisions’. Environmental Politics 14, 4, 460-477
  • Gray, T., Haggett, C., and Bell, D. (2005) ‘Windfarm Siting – the Case of Offshore Windfarms’ Ethics, Place and Environment 8, 2, 127-140
  • Haggett, C., and. Vigar, G. (2004) ‘Tilting at windmills? Understanding opposition to windfarm applications’ Town and Country Planning73 (10) pp288-291
  • Haggett, C. (2004) ‘Tilting at Windmills? Understanding the Attitude-Behaviour Gap in Renewable Energy Conflicts’, British Sociological Association Conference, York, 22-25th March 2004
  • ESRC ‘Tilting at Windmills? The Attitude-Behaviour Gap in Renewable Energy Conflicts’ (Environment and Human Behaviour Programme: award number RES-221-25-001) http://www.psi.org.uk/ehb/projectsbenson.html