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Public Participation in Decision-making on Wind Energy Infrastructure: Rethinking the Legal Approach Beyond Public Acceptance

Armeni, Chiara; (2020) Public Participation in Decision-making on Wind Energy Infrastructure: Rethinking the Legal Approach Beyond Public Acceptance. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

The right of the public to participate in decisions affecting their environment is institutionalised in environmental and planning law. But its meaning and rationales are interpreted in different ways, affecting the influence of participation in practice. A growing body of social science, environmental law and planning scholarship engages with the complexities and ambiguities of participation in wind energy infrastructure, including its relationship with the multiple factors shaping people’s attitude towards them. This thesis argues that the policy and regulatory framework in this field remains anchored to a view of participation as an instrument to reduce objections and achieve public acceptance of decisions already made elsewhere, with little ability to influence the outcome. This thesis is concerned with the gap between a model of public engagement aimed to achieve public acceptance of pre-determined decisions (“acceptance model”) and a model of participation aimed at constructing a deeper dialogue between decision-makers and the local community about options, values and expectations (“participatory model”). In so doing, it explores the scope for public participation in decision-making and benefit-sharing related to major offshore wind energy projects in England. It analyses participation in the authorisation process for two offshore wind energy Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) - the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm Project and the Navitus Bay Wind Park - , which were selected due to the high number of Interested Parties’ representations made during their examination. This thesis then looks at the extent to which local communities can participate in decisions on the design and management of developer-led community benefit schemes from these projects. The thesis argues that, in the light of the increasing pressure towards deployment of low-carbon energy infrastructure, the space for substantive participation in decisions for large-scale offshore wind farms in England tends to be limited by overarching policy objectives and expert knowledge. The ways in which the regulatory process understands and institutionalises the meaning and functions of participation requires a more careful consideration. Community benefits schemes from wind energy infrastructure can create additional spaces for participation of local communities, outside the planning process. However, without a stronger effort towards their institutionalisation in law, the “participatory potential” of community benefits is likely to remain undeveloped.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Public Participation in Decision-making on Wind Energy Infrastructure: Rethinking the Legal Approach Beyond Public Acceptance
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2020. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Laws
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10090291
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