This research paper sets out primarily to build on research literature about stakeholder perceptions(including levels of acceptance) of wind farm projects in Malta. It collects critical new information forMalta about the perspectives and considerations of stakeholders with different interests, and theirrelationship towards wind power policy making, planning and decision making in respect to theplanned onshore wind farm at Wied Rini in Bahrija. This is expected to provide reliable benchmarkingdata and knowledge that can inform environmental decision-making and stakeholder involvement,while identifying possible ways to assist mediation and reduce conflict.
Field research was conductedusing Q methodology in order to systematically compare patterns in stakeholder views according tocultural types, and their energy/environmental priorities within spatial planning.Results indicate clearly that in most cases same issues are looked at significantly differently by thevarious stakeholders, with four major discourses standing out but indicating rather polar views. Thisimplies that local concerns need to be heeded very carefully, whether they are deemed
not. Due to the many uncertainties dominating the project, science alone is not sufficient to providepeace of mind and scientific arguments can often be used in stakeholder quibbling or lead to furthercontroversy. Similarly any attempts to subdue objectors or manipulate community engagement toreach a forced approval of the project can be counterproductive, and will result in longer and morepainful public confrontations.Public perception across most of the discourses are characterised by mistrust and constant doubts forthe motives of politicians, and a lot of effort needs to be directed towards establishing a level of trust between the different stakeholders and local agencies. However one of the most important calls madeby the prevalent discourses is towards expanding and improving community participation in the waythe wind project plans are planned and authorized. Of course the implication is that this requiresadequate information campaigns and possibly an institutional capacity re-think that empowersconstructive public involvement in the burden sharing, with the understanding that this will lead tobetter decision making and less public opposition.