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Have Local Government and Public Expectations of Wind Energy Project Benefits Been Met? Implications for Repowering Schemes

Frantál, Bohumil
Journal of environmental policy & planning 2015 v.17 no.2 pp. 217-236
economic valuation, landscapes, local government, surveys, wind power, wind turbines, Czech Republic
A bstract Replacing existing wind turbines with new and higher capacity turbines (‘repowering’) is to become a major challenge for planners within the next decade. While the benefits of repowering are evident, it cannot be assumed that the process will proceed automatically and without problems. The acceptance of future developments will be significantly affected by whether expectations of benefits from previous projects have been met, and whether perceived advantages of existing wind farms have outweighed their disadvantages. Therefore, it is important to explore how existing wind farms and their impacts on local development and well-being are assessed. This paper presents the results of a survey with local governments and inhabitants of municipalities in the Czech Republic where wind turbines have been implemented and are in operation. The findings prove that perceived positive effects dominate over negative impacts and that a majority of local authorities and inhabitants are willing to support further development in their backyards. A disruption to local landscape was detected as the main factor behind opposition. However, the significance of visual impact proved to be outweighed by subjective appraisal of economic benefits which is spatially and socially structured. The conclusion presents some implications for designing repowering schemes based on the research.