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Title: Symbolism, knowledge claims and consultation : Stakeholder responses to bioenergy and wave energy
Author: McLachlan, Carly
ISNI:       0000 0004 2676 8624
Awarding Body: The University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2009
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Previous work on renewable energy siting controversy has focussed upon description rather than explanation and has often been based on quantitative approaches using prompted questions. Opposition to obviously 'desirable' renewable energy developments has been presented as 'the problem' and therefore alternative interpretations of the technologies have been less well documented. This thesis argues that there is a need to look more closely at the reasons behind opposition and support positions. Rather than looking for areas of ignorance or misunderstanding, the focus here has been to uncover the explanation and justification of different stakeholder positions in the context of two UK renewable energy developments: Wave Hub in Cornwall and Eccleshall Biomass in Staffordshire. Qualitative stakeholder interviews and a wide range of secondary data were used to investigate the two case studies. Three explanatory themes of opposition and support were identified from the empirical data: symbolism, knowledge claims and consultation. These themes were explored using literature from the fields of science and technology studies, risk, participative decision-making and geography and were considered in relation to the relevant planning and policy context. Divergent assessments of the impacts of developments and their acceptability were found to arise, not from a lack of information, as a 'deficit model' would assume, but from many different knowledge claims being made on the basis of different framings, assumptions, methodologies and values. Stakeholders had their own expertise and experience and some developed this over the course of the development. The consultation processes that was expected and requested varied greatly between the different stakeholders, as did the way in which the actual process was experienced and described. In both cases the process of consultation itself became the source of some stakeholder's objections. The findings indicate the need for developers to manage stakeholder expectations of the consultation process, in particular how stakeholder responses will feed into the design and management of the developments. The focus upon the visual impact of wind turbines has led to the neglect of many of the facets of 'place' and how these may be seen to be affected by a particular renewable energy development. These interpretations of place were combined with symbolic interpretations of the technologies which gave rise to various assessments of whether the development had symbolic 'fit'. Consideration of a bioenergy and a wave energy case, have broadened the wind energy dominated renewable energy siting controversy literature. Whilst this has been a study of two particular developments, the findings from the three themes have wider transferability for other renewable energy developments. Both conditional and unconditional opposition and support positions were evident in the cases studied. By considering the reasons for opposition and support positions and their conditional or unconditional basis, potential actions have been identified that could strengthen and protect conditional support and reduce conditional opposition.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available