Identifying predictors of attitudes towards local onshore wind development with reference to an English case study
The threats posed by climate change are placing governments under increasing pressure to meet electricity demand from low-carbon sources. In many countries, including the UK, legislation is in place to ensure the continued expansion of renewable energy capacity. Onshore wind turbines are expected to play a key role in achieving these aims. However, despite high levels of public support for onshore wind development in principle, specific projects often experience local opposition. Traditionally this difference in general and specific attitudes has been attributed to NIMBYism (not in my back yard), but evidence is increasingly calling this assumption into question. This study used multiple regression analysis to identify what factors might predict attitudes towards mooted wind development in Sheffield, England. We report on the attitudes of two groups; one group (target) living close to four sites earmarked for development and an unaffected comparison group (comparison). We found little evidence of NIMBYism amongst members of the target group; instead, differences between general and specific attitudes appeared attributable to uncertainty regarding the proposals. The results are discussed with respect to literature highlighting the importance of early, continued and responsive community involvement in combating local opposition and facilitating the deployment of onshore wind turbines.
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