A Major Wind Farm Development in a Valued Natural Environment
: A Thematic Discourse Analysis of public responses to a proposed wind farm on the Island Of Lewis, Scotland

  • Robert Duncan Wemyss

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (awarded by OU/Aberdeen)


    Where it has been determined that government renewables targets can be met through the construction of onshore wind farms the number of rural land use conflicts has increased. This research used the proposed major wind farm on the Island of Lewis (the LWF) in Scotland as a case study to explore such contested perspectives of rural land use. This wind farm would have been located in a locally, nationally and internationally valued natural environment underpinned by national and international statutory protection. A structured thematic discourse analysis (TDA) was devised to analyse the intrinsic and utility values of the natural environment contained within stakeholders’ planning submissions. Although relatively underutilised planning submissions proved to be a rich source of research data. The principal findings revealed the extent to which stakeholders’ discourses of objection were shaped through interactions at different social and geographical levels and how narratives of rurality, biodiversity and landscape were socially constructed in stakeholders’ discourses. The findings also demonstrated that a strong sense of place attachment and place association had been woven into stakeholders’ discourses and provided a better explanation for motivating objections than either NIMBYism or inverse NIMBYism. The location of the LWF within statutory protected areas (PAs) influenced the composition of stakeholders’ discourses in ways which challenged the more prevalent academic perception that the public regarded PAs as being top-down impositions which constituted ‘scientific colonialism’. The impact of the LWF on environmental and socio-cultural values was considered by stakeholders to be crucial in assessments of sustainability and quality of life. Perceptions of fairness and weaknesses in local governance and the communicative planning process were also important influences on stakeholders’ discourses and their perception as to whether a decision reached on the LWF would be environmentally just.
    Date of Award15 Jan 2013
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • The Open University
    SupervisorFrank Rennie (Supervisor) & Alister Scott (Supervisor)

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