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Acceptance, acceptability and environmental justice: the role of community benefits in wind energy development

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  • Richard Cowell
  • Gill Bristow
  • Max Munday

Abstract

Conflict around wind farm development has stimulated interest in 'community benefits' - the provision of financial or material benefits by the developers to the area affected by these facilities. By and large, both policy makers and researchers have couched the rationale for community benefits in instrumental terms, i.e. that an increased flow of community benefits will improve the social acceptability of these facilities and thereby expedite planning consent. This paper questions this conventional rationale. Proponents of this rationale neglect the institutionally structured terrain of the planning process; the provision of community benefits can shift in significance depending on whether or not the 'affected community' has any significant influence over wind farm projects. Similarly, our discourse analysis conducted in Wales shows that community benefits are seen predominantly as compensation for impacts, without any clear implication that they should change social attitudes. Our conclusion is that the dominant, instrumental rationale for community benefits obscures other, equally important justifications: the role of community benefits in promoting environmental justice; and how flows of community benefits might better serve the long-term sustainability of wind farm development areas.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Cowell & Gill Bristow & Max Munday, 2011. "Acceptance, acceptability and environmental justice: the role of community benefits in wind energy development," Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 54(4), pages 539-557.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jenpmg:v:54:y:2011:i:4:p:539-557
    DOI: 10.1080/09640568.2010.521047
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    4. Songsore, Emmanuel & Buzzelli, Michael, 2014. "Social responses to wind energy development in Ontario: The influence of health risk perceptions and associated concerns," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 285-296.
    5. Huesca-Pérez, María Elena & Sheinbaum-Pardo, Claudia & Köppel, Johann, 2016. "Social implications of siting wind energy in a disadvantaged region – The case of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 952-965.
    6. repec:eee:ecolec:v:141:y:2017:i:c:p:245-260 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Upham, Paul & García Pérez, Jesús, 2015. "A cognitive mapping approach to understanding public objection to energy infrastructure: The case of wind power in Galicia, Spain," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 587-596.
    8. Pepermans, Yves & Loots, Ilse, 2013. "Wind farm struggles in Flanders fields: A sociological perspective," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 321-328.
    9. Liljenfeldt, Johanna & Pettersson, Örjan, 2017. "Distributional justice in Swedish wind power development – An odds ratio analysis of windmill localization and local residents’ socio-economic characteristics," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 648-657.
    10. Yenneti, Komali & Day, Rosie, 2015. "Procedural (in)justice in the implementation of solar energy: The case of Charanaka solar park, Gujarat, India," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 664-673.
    11. Reynolds, Joanna & Egan, Matt & Renedo, Alicia & Petticrew, Mark, 2015. "Conceptualising the ‘community’ as a recipient of money – A critical literature review, and implications for health and inequalities," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 88-97.
    12. repec:eee:enepol:v:110:y:2017:i:c:p:263-270 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Kerr, Sandy & Johnson, Kate & Weir, Stephanie, 2017. "Understanding community benefit payments from renewable energy development," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 202-211.
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    15. Walsh, Bríd & van der Plank, Sien & Behrens, Paul, 2017. "The effect of community consultation on perceptions of a proposed mine: A case study from southeast Australia," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 163-171.
    16. Simpson, Genevieve & Clifton, Julian, 2016. "Subsidies for residential solar photovoltaic energy systems in Western Australia: Distributional, procedural and outcome justice," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 262-273.
    17. Howard, Tanya, 2015. "Olivebranches and idiot's guides: Frameworks for community engagement in Australian wind farm development," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 137-147.
    18. repec:eee:enepol:v:110:y:2017:i:c:p:570-580 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Ejdemo, Thomas & Söderholm, Patrik, 2015. "Wind power, regional development and benefit-sharing: The case of Northern Sweden," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 476-485.
    20. García, Jorge H. & Cherry, Todd L. & Kallbekken, Steffen & Torvanger, Asbjørn, 2016. "Willingness to accept local wind energy development: Does the compensation mechanism matter?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 165-173.

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