Local resistance to wind power has been identified as one of the biggest barriers to accelerating UK wind turbine deployment.
Not only are the UK’s 2020 renewable electricity targets in jeopardy, but the profitability of wind companies is already being hit by drawn-out opposition, which can ultimately lead to the rejection or forfeiture of worthy and ambitious proposals.
Oxford University student, Jeff Beyer, reports on an innovative study that aims to address this.
Over the past five years, a great deal of research has been undertaken to better understand communities and the way in which they respond to the wind power challenge. However, to date very little time has been devoted to understanding how companies are actually approaching communities, what tools and practice are used, and why. And yet, given the increasing number of organisations that are entering the fray, it’s an issue that’s becoming increasing critical. Indeed, with the Localism Bill looming, it’s an issue that’s not about to go away.
It’s time to address this issue head on. Over the course of the next few months, I’ll be conducting a series of interviews with manufacturers, project developers, consultants and the legal services sector to better understand the scale and nature of the challenge. Are you interested in getting involved?
I’ll be taking a closer look at how the issue of local liaison is handled within these organisations, how the communities are perceived, what motivates beliefs and attitudes towards future engagement, and what strategies are deployed throughout the consultative process.
How big an influence do the local councils really play within a community when set against the landowners and how do the approaches compare to others around the country? And perhaps most importantly, how does the commercial reality of community engagement differ from the guidelines and blueprints of their academic counterparts?
It’s a tough brief and one that is certainly not short on challenges. However, with the right level of support – both from industry and (perhaps ironically?) from the local communities themselves, it’s an initiative that might just lift the existing corporate/community engagement rate. I’ll be reporting back with some of the ongoing findings of the initiative throughout the summer.