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An analysis of the importance and effectiveness of Environmental Impact Assessment for onshore windfarm planning in Scotland

An analysis of the importance and effectiveness of Environmental Impact Assessment for onshore windfarm planning in Scotland

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards (International Programme) Competition by Duncan Smart. Originally submitted for SD4002: Dissertation in Sustainable Development at University of St. Andrews, with lecturer Dr Tim Stojanovic in the category of Engineering & Mechanical Sciences
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards (International Programme) Competition by Duncan Smart. Originally submitted for SD4002: Dissertation in Sustainable Development at University of St. Andrews, with lecturer Dr Tim Stojanovic in the category of Engineering & Mechanical Sciences

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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11/30/2013

 
Original 
 
 photograph
 
taken
 
by 
 
the
 
author 
 
in
 
Findhorn,
 
November 
 
2011
 
 An
analysis
of 
the
importance
and
effectiveness
of 
Environmental
Impact 
 Assessment 
for
onshore
windfarm
planning
in
Scotland
0800082872012
SD4002DissertationinSustainableDevelopment
 
2
 
SubmittedasanintegralpartoftheM.A.DegreecourseintheSustainableDevelopmentProgramme,Universityofon3
rd
May2012.Ideclarethatthisdissertationis15,212wordsinlength,excludingappendices,bibliographyandfigures.IdeclarethattheSchoolofGeographyandGeosciencesinformedmeof,andthatIhaveagreedtoabideby,theEthics,RiskAssessment,andLocalHealthandSafetyrules,codesandproceduresassociatedwiththispartofmydegree;thatIhavecompletedandsignedtherelevantEthicsSelf‐AssessmentandRiskAssessmentforms[copiesincludedintheappendices]andthatIhaveobtainedappropriateEthicsApprovalforthisproject[copyofletterwithethicscodeincludedinappendices]IcertifythatIhavereadtheUniversity'spolicyonAcademicMisconduct;thatthefollowingworkismyownwork;andthatsignificantacademicdebtsandborrowingshavebeenproperlyacknowledgedandreferenced.
Signature__________________________Date___________
 
 
3
 
 Abstract 
Despite general public support for renewable energy on the grounds that it is needed to tackleclimate change and implement sustainable development many proposed windfarms encounter fierce resistance. The importance of substantive planning issues has arguably beenoverlooked within windfarm social acceptability discourse, therefore this exploratoryresearch attempted to question the importance and effectiveness of Environmental ImpactAssessment (EIA) within windfarm planning debates. Through semi-structured interviewswith 21 windfarm planning stakeholders the characteristics of EIA were assessed, particularlyin terms of its perceived purpose and performance. 29 windfarm Environmental Statements(ES) and 27 Non-Technical Summary documents were also analysed to contextualise theinterview findings. The data shows that while respondents perceived EIA to be importantthey expressed concerns regarding its effectiveness, especially with regards to perceptions of  bias in ES, deficiencies in the ability of EIA to address climate change and windfarmdecommissioning issues, and perceived problems with EIA scoping. These results suggestthat despite the minimalist treatment afforded to substantive planning issues in socialacceptability discourse EIA may be an influential factor for determining windfarmcontentiousness, thus five recommendations are offered to improve the performance of EIAalong with four areas of unexplored research which should be urgently addressed.

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