Heat and Light: Understanding. Bioenergy Siting Controversy

Paul Upham

Introduction

This chapter draws together some of the insights from an interdisciplinary research programme that has investigated public and stakeholder attitudes to the cultivation and use of biomass for energy in the UK. The key empirical focus here is a bioenergy siting controversy involving a nationally significant advanced bioenergy gasifier, which serves to illustrate the very real tensions between national level energy targets and local expectations of democratic decision­making. While suggestions are made for mitigating these tensions, they are unlikely to be fully resolved, given the pressure of energy and climate change targets (BERR, 2008a). The chapter suggests that the politics and psychology of objection, particularly place attachment, are interconnected. Attitudes are in part contingent on their context: if national energy and climate targets are to be met, rural and coastal communities will need to be convinced that additional energy infrastructure is part of a serious national and international drive to mitigate climate change and that they are not being asked to unilaterally accept changes to the local environment without others also playing their part in emissions reduc­tion.

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