The case of a proposed 21.5 MWe biomass gasifier in Winkleigh, Devon: Implications for governance of renewable energy planning

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Local opinion of a proposed 21.5 MW(e) bioenergy powerplant in Winkleigh, Devon is strongly negative. A detailed opinion survey has revealed a high level of mistrust of the relevant authorities, particularly the South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA) that has supported the proposed gasifier through land purchase and payment for several technical studies. This paper documents that mistrust, the circumstances surrounding it and how it has evolved, and makes provisional recommendations for increasing local confidence in renewable energy planning processes. The exercise of particular regional institutional mandates, in the absence of a well-honed mechanism for holding institutions to account, has compounded a cycle of ever-increasing distrust. It is recommended that consideration be given to engaging citizens far more pro-actively in negotiating sub-regional renewable energy strategies, and to extending the scrutiny role of Regional Assemblies to include proposed developments that are, for example, above the significance thresholds of the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations. Extending and deepening public consultation is proposed as a means of facilitating developments that have a higher degree of local acceptance, not as a means of removing objections per se.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnergy Policy
Issue number15
Pages (from-to)2161-2172
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 10.2006