Effectiveness of Public Engagement in Large Scale and local community Renewable Energy Projects

This source preferred by Max Lowenstein, Iain Green, Tilak Ginige and Frazer Ball

Authors: Ginige, T.A., Ball, F., Lowenstein, M. and Green, I.

Start date: 1 September 2015

Publisher: Aix-Marseille Université

Climate change and energy dilemma are two most serious problems facing our world today. The European Union (EU) has put in place various legal instruments to help the member states tackle this multifaceted problem. Renewable energy (RE) projects are considered to be one of the vehicles to enable states to combat the above mentioned environmental issues and at the same time satisfy the EU legal targets. The United Kingdom (UK) has established policies and legislation to implement RE projects and to involve the public in the decision making process of these projects. There are however, conflicting views on the question of public participation in RE projects, on the one hand, it is suggested that it will promote more democratic decision-making process; on the other hand that public participation will delay projects from taking place. It is argued that the public should be involved in RE projects since these projects are not only of national significance, but are also closely related to local community interests. There are two approaches to develop renewable energy projects: build large infrastructure RE projects from national level (top-down) and to encourage local RE projects (bottom-up). However, research suggests that there are flaws in the UK legislation with regard to public participation in respect of both approaches. This paper will look at the participation of the local community and local authorities in the decision making process in RE projects these two approaches. Furthermore, the purpose of this article is to suggest possible ways to promote active societal involvement in renewable energy projects, which will facilitate more public acceptance and support of RE projects.

Keywords: public participation, renewable energy projects, national government, local authority, national renewable energy projects, local renewable energy projects

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