Thursday, July 25, 2013

Power, Protest and Energy Infrastructure

Professor Patrick Devine-Wright, University of Exeter, will speak on Power and protest: Investigating the role of place attachments in shaping public acceptance of new energy infrastructures at the Australian National University Energy Change Institute in Canberra, 1pm 31 July 2013. The slides from a previous presentation by Professor Devine-Wrightare available.
Policies to reduce carbon emissions in the UK are leading to fundamental changes to electricity generation and transmission infrastructures, as an ageing national grid is updated to cater for new and intermittent forms of power generation from offshore wind farms to solar arrays. This in turn raises complex and serious challenges in terms of public engagement and acceptance of large-scale technology projects – issues often framed as ‘NIMBYism’ (Not in my back yard). Following a critique of the NIMBY concept both as a means of describing and explaining resistance, the relevance of the concept of place attachment is discussed, with reference to recent scholarship in Environmental Psychology and Human Geography. These disciplines refer to the intensity and type of the attachment bond, and the ways it can be implicated in local strategies to resist globalisation. This paper draws on findings from several empirical studies capturing the role of place attachments in influencing public responses to proposals for new energy infrastructures, encompassing tidal energy, offshore wind and high voltage powerline projects. These studies highlight the diverse ways that attachments to place can influence both acceptance of and resistance to new technology proposals. The presentation will conclude by making recommendations for future research and highlighting implications for policy and practice.

About the speaker: Professor Devine-Wright is an environmental social scientist who draws from disciplines the Human Geography and Environmental Psychology disciplines. He has held posts at the University of Manchester‘s School of Environment and Development (Senior Lecturer, then Reader) and De Montfort University’s Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development (Research Fellow, then Senior Research Fellow) before joining the University of Exeter to take up a Chair in Human Geography in 2009.

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