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Understanding ‘Local’ Opposition to Wind Energy Development in Australia: The Intertwining Link between Procedural and Distributional Justice, Health Concerns and the People
Nicoleta Raluca Dorobantu BA(Hons)
Project submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of MSc (Energy and Resources), UCL School of Energy and Resources, Australia
Over the past decade, wind energy has gained a privileged status as governments’ preferred form of technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity production. Starting from a comparatively low base, Australia has consistently supported the development of wind technology registering an average annual increase of 30%. This rapid proliferation has led to opposition from a significantly vocal minority, and to the creation of organisations lobbying against the further development of wind farms. The main argument put forward has been the (scientifically unproven) adverse health effects caused by wind turbines. This dissertation argues that Australia represents a particular case in what concerns social acceptance of wind farms, with various and potentially dangerous implications for the achievement of renewable energy targets. This report is the result of an extensive analysis of the 1014 submissions to the 2011 Senate Inquiry into the Social and Economic Impacts of Wind Farms, as well as of a thorough examination of the international academic literature on the topic. Through these tools, this dissertation provides a timely and comprehensive explanation of the reasons underpinning local opposition, relating it to the principles of distributional and procedural justice, which are reflecting themselves into the pervasive health concern. Using this framework, this dissertation calls for immediate and tailored action from government and industry representatives. To that effect, this dissertation provides a set of advice and recommendations with their short and long term expected results.