Public Acceptability of Renewable Energy (A)

S. Rühmland (chair); A. Bray; M. Jørgensen; A. Gawrich. Location: A7

The relevance of place meaning in the discussion about acceptance of renewable energies – a case study in a biosphere reserve

S. Rühmland & P. Schweizer-Ries

The planning of renewable energy plants sometimes causes unsatisfied citizens and public opposition. Recent studies (e.g. Vorkin and Riese, 2001) show that place attachment explains more variance than demographic variables regarding the acceptance of renewable energy plants. Often studies do not consider the place where an infrastructure is implemented and therefore the object of attachment, the place, remains unexplored. In order to elicit how place attachment influences acceptance it is important to explore the meaning of place. When a place has positively evaluated features, place attachment is expected to be positive and strong, therefore planned infrastructures could be perceived as disruptive to place attachment and may trigger oppositional behaviour. A pilot study (N=39) is designed to identify what a biosphere reserve (Saarland, Germany) means to people, where renewable energies are going to be implemented. A mixed-method approach was chosen where experts took part in an online questionnaire that used a freelisting method. The explored variance of place meanings will be presented and will be discussed regarding further research in connection with place attachment and acceptance of renewable energy plants.

The democratic deficit in wind farm siting: Exploring the importance of opponent activity and supporter apathy for wind farm planning applications

A. Bray, C. R. Jones, & J. Steel

In the UK, a sizeable majority of the population are reportedly favourable to the use of wind power yet many specific projects are delayed or curtailed because of active local opposition. This highly debated paradox is called the ‘social gap’ in wind farm siting and it has been often attributed, arguably incorrectly, to NIMBYism. An alternative and so far insufficiently researched explanation is the democratic deficit hypothesis (Bell et al., 2013, 2005) which argues that if an oppositional minority can advocate their opinion more effectively than a more positively disposed majority than the planning outcomes will not reflect the actual will of the majority. In our project we explore how people perceive the opinions of others around them, and whether this has implications for their actions and their willingness to speak out about their opinions about local wind farm proposals. This research draws data from two survey studies, conducted with residents living near proposed wind farm sites in East Yorkshire. We argue that there is a large group of people who would actively support local proposals but refrain from doing so because they believe that their opinions will clash with the normative opinion within in the community.

Policy Schemes promoting neighbor’s acceptance of wind turbines – do they work?

M. L. Jørgensen

To address local opposition regarding wind turbines in Denmark the Danish government introduced three schemes with the purpose to promote neighbors acceptance on wind turbines in 2009. The schemes are 1) a compensation scheme on property value loss to neighbours, 2) a co-ownership scheme and 3) a green fund for community benefit projects. Based on one first case study (carried before the conference) preliminary findings on the role of the schemes in relation to neighbors attitude towards wind turbines and which other factors influencing the extent to which the schemes may promote local acceptance will be presented. The discussion concerns how an interdisciplinary approach based on sociology of law, environmental psychology and sociology can benefit the analysis of the functioning of the schemes in practice. Further, a theoretical discussion on limitations and perspectives of policy schemes intending to promote changes in individual attitudes towards wind turbines and other large-scale projects will be presented.

Who and how is the broad public in the context of grid extension?

A. Gawrich, J. Hildebrand, S. Rühmland, M. Hinse, D. Zeyer, D. Rode, I. Rau, & P. Schweizer-Ries

The extension of the high voltage transmission grid is a consequence of the European directive on the promotion of the use of renewable energy. It produces significant changes in the landscape, impact on property values and tourism as well as in perceived health impacts. In order to find appropriate solutions for all affected persons it is not sufficient to diminish the public opposition by using the NIMBYs (NotInMyBackYard) paradigm. Transmission system operators as implementing and the administration as permitting stakeholder should take the concerns and needs of various actors and organised groups seriously. Within the INSPIRE-Grid Project concerns and needs of various actors were explored using desktop research and interviews. Results indicate that “the broad public” is a very diverse group of actors that shows a salient variation of concerns and needs. A differentiated perception and consideration of the particular concerns and needs of hunters, landowners, farmers, nature conservationists and residents, that are subgroups within the broad public, seem relevant in order to develop appropriate solutions. An actors-map with the explored concerns and the corresponding needs of the subgroups will be presented. A discussion about the range and possible weighting of certain concerns shall give an impulse for further research.