Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Award

Fall 2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Department of Integrated Science and Technology

Advisor(s)

Elisabeth Conrad

Maria C. Papadakis

Tonio Sant

Abstract

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 for Malta about the perspectives and considerations of stakeholders with different interests, and their relationship towards wind power policy making, planning and decision making in respect to the planned onshore wind farm at Wied Rini in Bahrija. This is expected to provide reliable benchmarking data and knowledge that can inform environmental decision-making and stakeholder involvement, while identifying possible ways to assist mediation and reduce conflict. Field research was conducted using Q methodology in order to systematically compare patterns in stakeholder views according to cultural types, and their energy/environmental priorities within spatial planning. Results indicate clearly that in most cases same issues are looked at significantly differently by the various stakeholders, with four major discourses standing out but indicating rather polar views. This implies that local concerns need to be heeded very carefully, whether they are deemed ‘legitimate’ or not. Due to the many uncertainties dominating the project, science alone is not sufficient to provide peace of mind and scientific arguments can often be used in stakeholder quibbling or lead to further controversy. Similarly any attempts to subdue objectors or manipulate community engagement to reach a forced approval of the project can be counterproductive, and will result in longer and more painful public confrontations. Public perception across most of the discourses are characterised by mistrust and constant doubts for the 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 made by the prevalent discourses is towards expanding and improving community participation in the way the wind project plans are planned and authorized. Of course the implication is that this requires adequate information campaigns and possibly an institutional capacity re-think that empowers constructive public involvement in the burden sharing, with the understanding that this will lead to better decision making and less public opposition.

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