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Public engagement in electricity network development: the case of the Beauly-Denny project in Scotland

Tobiasson, Wenche; Beestermöller, Christina; Jamas , Tooraj

Ambitious renewable energy targets and an aging infrastructure necessitate a substantial upgrading and expansion of the electricity networks around Europe and beyond. Although vital for the functioning of the economy and a green energy future, grid development projects are often met by public opposition, which increase costs and lead to lengthy planning processes. Therefore, understanding the social aspects of a green energy economy is becoming increasingly important. The current planning frameworks have proven ineffective at resolving conflicts among stakeholders, indicating the need for a new approach. We analyse these issues from an economic perspective, outlining the economic characteristics of transmission developments and public engagement. We identify previously overlooked features of the planning process that contribute to the rise in conflicts, public opposition and prolonged project realisation. The Scottish Beauly–Denny high voltage transmission development is discussed in detail and our findings indicate a need for better engagement with local communities at an earlier stage of planning. Trust between communities, developers and government is important for the negotiations and can be achieved through transparency, specific education and set guidelines for stakeholder engagement in the planning process.
Published in: Economia e Politica Industriale, 10.1007/s40812-016-0030-0, Springer