Final remarks

In the conclusions at the end of Chapter 4, it was argued that the qualitative study offered support for the proposed theoretical framework integrating rational choice and attitudes. The same could essentially be said in light of the survey data presented in Chapter 5. Nevertheless, the empirical work discussed in this book indicates that some assumptions about the factors which influence support or opposition to a proposed wind farm development must be revised. One of these, in particular, is that of income: although the research revealed that there is a correlation between income and the perception of costs and benefits associated with a proposed wind farm, it is modest. Moreover, income is not correlated with the specific concern about the decline in property values and is only modestly correlated with concerns about landscape integrity—two specific concerns that both previous literature and the qualitative study presented in this book have suggested are significant to individuals with high levels of income.

"Trust”, a contextual factor, appeared as the single primary issue that influences the appraisal of future costs and benefits related to the proposed wind farm, confirming the qualitative study and implying the importance of building this vital feature into local debates and relationships. After trust, ability to see the wind farm from home was the second most important personal resource influencing opinion about costs and benefits associated with the proposed wind farm, a finding that coheres with the previous studies reviewed in Chapter 2 and with the findings of the qualitative survey (see Chapter 4).

The co-operative model was envisioned as a contextual factor that would potentially swing undecided people in favour of the wind farm. After considering the responses obtained by both the qualitative and the quantitative survey, this assumption did not hold. Questionnaire respondents largely answered that a co-operative scheme would not have made a difference in terms of consensus building, thereby lending credibility to those stakeholders that showed scepticism in the qualitative interviews. Yet again, "trust” appeared to be pivotal in shaping opinions of a potential wind farm co-operative, confirming the findings of the interviews.

Finally, it is worth recalling what was said earlier about pro-environmental attitudes. They appear to sustain two antagonistic variants of environmentalism— global and local—which clash in the specific matter of wind farm siting. So, while pro-environmental attitudes might still be considered as influencing behavioural choices in low-cost situations, in the case of acceptability of wind farms during the pre-construction phase, they might lead to both oppositional and supportive attitudes and behaviours.

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