Other Publication Details
Mandatory Fields
PhD Thesis
Breffní Lennon
Mobility and Turbulence in the Socio-environmental Flows of the European Union: Explaining Resistance to Wind Energy Policy in the Spatial Planning Process
Optional Fields
Research Topic: EU and Irish renewable energy policies relative to the parameters of environmental sustainability and the public acceptance of wind farms in the southwest of Ireland. This ethnographic study mapped the dynamic, multi-relational identities that compete at the interstices of multi-scalar networks created from the increasing enmeshments of technology, society and space.
Considering public policy as a socio-environmental flow this study follows the European Union’s wind energy “policy chain”, from formulation to implementation, in order to understand the inner dialectics that influence the success or failure of such projects in two south-west counties in Ireland. It shows how mobility and place inform each other in a two-way process that occasionally mask the underlying reasons for wind farm conflicts; with the concerns of local people often dismissed as NIMBYist (not in my back yard) prejudice to such developments. Recent literature has sought to address this issue, calling for the concept to be reappraised or indeed abandoned altogether. This thesis engages with those debates, but also draws from a wider body of literature primarily concerned with landscape and planning theory, notions of place and mobility, and the economic and cultural geographies of rural spaces in order to employ a conceptual and theoretical framework that adequately informs this policy analysis. Studying official records alone does not provide a complete picture as to why wind energy policy may succeed or fail. Rather, all policy extends beyond the deliberate choices of government actors to what Howlett and Ramesh (2003: 7) describe as the “realm of potential choices” (both made and not made) from the complex and ever-changing alignments of government and societal actors who negotiate and act in these decision-making processes. Basing its findings on extensive archival research and semi-structured interviews conducted between 2007 and 2010, this thesis investigates how opposition to a given wind farm proposal is often informed by narratives of localised, “place-protective actions” (Devine-Wright, 2009) to a perceived threat, as a result of the greater enmeshments of place and mobility in contemporary rural experiences. In doing so it also shows how these conflicts in turn can negatively feed back into the policy cycles at the local, national and supranational government scales.
Grant Details
UCC Department of Geography Scholarship