Identifying key influences for planning acceptance of onshore wind turbines

2 minute read

I had the pleasure of presenting my work at the ECOS 2017 conference in San Diego, California. This page summarises the work and findings, with the research paper providing a more detailed decription.

Read the full paper

What is the problem?

Wind energy provides a key opportunity for the UK government to meet decarbonisation targets. There is wide avaialbility of resource across the country, and onshore wind provides one of the most mature and cost-effective methods to supply renewable electricity.

Despite the potential opportunity for wind, sites face difficulty in getting planning acceptance. In the UK, it is common for sites to receive strong local opposition and protests. This in part has led to acceptance rates of proposed wind farms reducing over recent years.

My research

While there is a large amount of research conducted to understand what makes a wind farm successful, it is not clear what parameters makes a wind farm successful at receiving planning permission. By using the locations of all the proposed wind farms in the UK and knowing whether, statistical analysis was conducted to understand whether the planning acceptance was influenced by site characteristics. This considered aspects such as:

  1. Proximity to sensitive sites (urban areas, national parks)
  2. Site elevation and slope
  3. Local political data
  4. Demographics

Site data used within the study

My findings

The research has demonstrated a number of significant relationships between variables and success rate:

  • The closer a site to urban areas, the lower the chance of acceptance
  • Local demographic composition appear to influence acceptance rates. Areas with higher Mean Age and higher level of qualification have lower acceptance rates.
  • Local political composition appears to influence the acceptance rates of wind turbines, with areas with Labour and Liberal Democrat councils appearing marginally more supportive.
  • The overall model fit is relatively low. This suggests that the model variables can only explain a small percentage of why a site may be selected or not.

Research Impact

The findings from this work should enable planners to have a greater understanding of what makes a wind farm successful at receiving planning permission. Such an understanding should hopefully result in a greater number of wind farms receiving planning by projects being proposed in locations which are socially acceptable

A key part of this research is making sure that the findings of the work are easily accessible for the relevant parties. To this effect, I am in the process of building an online portal to explore the results. You can see the start of this on the website here, but I plan on releasing an updated version in the future: https://mikeyharper.shinyapps.io/windturbinemap/

Additional Resources

View the presentation here

Leave a Comment