Contested seascapes : space-related conflicts over offshore wind farms in Scotland and Germany
Rudolph, David Philipp
Offshore wind farms are widely considered to become a cornerstone of energy transition for securing energy supply and tackling climate change simultaneously. But recent developments have demonstrated that the siting of offshore wind farms is far from being conflict-free, evoking confrontations with a number of stakeholder interests. Such real-life evidence implies a reductio ad absurdum, as offshore wind farms are generally supposed to be less contested than the ones onshore and therefore more convenient for local communities. By drawing on two case studies in Scotland and Germany (Argyll Array / Baltic 1), this thesis examines various conflicts that emerge from the siting of offshore wind farms and compares their underlying causes as well as their implications and institutional consideration in the planning process. In order to understand the conflicts over offshore wind farms, the research employs the epistemological framework of ‘space-related conflicts’ which turns the attention to conflicting interests, values and practices of affected actors as well as to the significance of structural and spatial conditions. Throughout the thesis, it will be argued that it is not the wind farms per se that are contested, but that the conflicts rather revolve around the places and spaces which are meant to be changed by the siting of offshore wind farms. The findings show that both case studies reflect similar conflicts, where adverse impacts on coastal tourism and environmental impacts turned out to be the key issues for local opponents from the public. However, even though key controversies are comparable, major differences result from the rationales that opponents invoke to substantiate their concerns and more dominantly from the existing planning frameworks which pre-structure the power relations and dynamics of public engagement. The comparative study concludes by suggesting some policy recommendations for future practices of dealing with affected actors. Therefore, the research findings do not just provide a contribution to the theoretical debates about the formation of resistance to renewables, but they also present practical implications relevant to policy-makers.