CA-OWEE 5.4 Environmental & Social | Social Acceptance
general, opinion polls in countries like the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and
the UK show that more than 70 percent of the population is in favour of using
more wind energy ([xxvi], [xxvii], [xxviii] and [xxix]) . In the UK, a summary of opinion surveys indicates
that 8 out of 10 support local wind projects[xxx] , but no specific opinion surveys concerning
offshore wind energy seem to be available.
In Germany, as mentioned in Section 2.4, a
study on effects from on- and offshore wind farms on tourism (i.e. not the
local population as such) indicated that offshore wind farms would generally be
accepted by tourists as long as the farms were not situated too near the
responses from the CA members received on social acceptance of offshore wind
power at first sight indicate that there is no absolute clear conclusion as to
the social acceptance of offshore wind power compared to onshore. Nevertheless,
some hypotheses can be drawn from the responses received, and an analysis of the
acceptance dilemma of onshore wind power applicable to offshore locations shows that:
acceptance in general is high but falls when it comes to our own living
areas are more sensitive to change because of great recreational values,
acceptance seems to increase after the installation of turbines, provided that
no disturbances are experienced,
acceptance increases with the level of information and economic
acceptance of wind power has often been characterized by a NIMBY (not in my backyard)
syndrome. The NIMBY-explanation is however a too
simplistic way of explaining all variables involved when determining the
general and local public acceptance of a specific wind power development. This
means that the question of social acceptance really has many components: e.g. the
general attitude towards offshore wind power in the population as a whole, the
acceptance in the population who will experience the local impacts, the conflict
management strategies and economic involvement.
of overcoming the dilemmas is
presented by the Danish case for onshore wind power. Here most wind turbines
are owned by locally established private cooperatives. This appears to improve
the social acceptance, as it is, generally speaking, the same people who
experience the impacts that receive the financial benefits.
Middelgrunden Wind Farm outside Copenhagen, it is very probable that the
project could not have been carried out without involvement of the local public
in this way.
of the offshore projects will be
owned by the utilities, but it is still a political priority to encourage the
formation of cooperatively owned offshore wind power farm s as well.
is probable that the next generation of offshore farms (Horns Rev, Rødsand,
Læsø, Omø Stålgrunde and Gedser ) will be
partly publicly owned, giving the possibility to test different ownership
models[xxxi] . The project will be managed by the Danish
Association of Wind Turbine Owners, but has not been politically
approved at the time of writing .
"Danish model" is, however, rather unique, and for most other
countries the offshore wind farms are either owned by utilities or private
consortiums , thus only enabling indirect financial benefits and
influence for the local citizens.
A broad-based participation in the implementation
and decision process is used in a Swedish offshore project in Kalmarsund
conducted by Vattenfall. This is a form of conflict management, which
extends the group of actors involved in the decision
process, increases transparency and promotes
negotiations and discussions. An important factor is thus, who is involved in
the decision process and in what form can different actors participate and
represent their interest in the planning process. The result of this approach
is so far that the project has conducted a management of dissent instead of
putting trust in a fictitious consent. The importance of this type of conflict
management seems to correlate with the amount of realised and
planned projects in a demarcated and clearly defined geographical area suitable
for offshore wind power.
strategy concerning public involvement is to assume that the local public
opposition can be overcome by rational decisions made by experts, and
people will eventually get used to change. Another strategy is to directly involve
the local public early in the planning phase, and incorporate the
recommendations into the project at an early state. The purpose of this
strategy is to give the local population a motivation to accept change by for
example giving them a say in the planning of the project. The "risk"
of this strategy is that the public debate generates so much awareness and thus
delays the whole planning procedure. A delay, which on
the other hand is unavoidable when permits are appealed against and projects
face the threat of never being realised.
a wind power plan requires a sense of timing. In some cases, depending on the
size of the project, it might be worthwhile to allow a certain period of
adjustment. A large wind farm mayin some cases be
developed sequentially, which makes adjustments easier if people express
misgivings. Such adjustments manifest the flexibility and reversible quality of
wind power developments. Just because a wind farm can be erected quickly, does
not necessarily mean it should be.
it should be mentioned that the social acceptance of offshore wind, as
discussed in the introduction of this report, may expect to increase
significantly, when people are aware of the positive impacts of offshore wind
energy and when they realize the alternatives. The fact that oil and gas
reserves are very limited, that other sources of energy are not only much more
polluting but also more expensive when externalities are accounted for [xxxii], should be stressed in the public dialogue.
ccording to experiences from the offshore farms
already established it can be said that:
of involvement of the local population in the planning phase influences the
procedures on public involvement, hearings etc., vary considerably among
countries and may even vary among regions within the same country.
here is to
day no clear overview on the results of different strategies for pub lic
involvement and conflict management.
The issue of public acceptance deserves
to be studied in more details, e.g. through a monitoring programme focussing on
public acceptance before and after the installation of an offshore wind farm in
relation to the degree of public involvement and active conflict management.