ESRI working paper on community compensation mechanisms reducing resistance to energy infrastructure

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) earlier this year published a working paper on the role of community compensation mechanisms in reducing resistance to energy infrastructure development.

The working paper notes that across the EU, significant investments are being made in renewable generation and grid technologies, however, policy makers and planners are frequently met with resistance from local communities to proposed infrastructure development. Offering some form of compensation to the affected communities may reduce objections and minimise project delays. While there are numerous methods of compensating and involving local communities, evidence on which methods are most effective at increasing acceptance of infrastructure developments is scant.

The working paper reports on a nationally-representative survey of Irish citizens to analyse how different compensation methods affect acceptance. Ireland is a useful case study because of its high RES-E targets. Respondents are presented with four compensation models for the local construction of a wind farm, and two for the local development of the transmission grid.

While it is often reported that communities would prefer deeper levels of involvement, the working paper finds no evidence of this. Instead, it finds a preference for schemes in which people receive financial compensation without sharing in the ownership and associated risks of project development. The econometric analyses show that certain socio-demographic characteristics, for example, age and income are significant predictors of people’s acceptance under different schemes, while a person’s education level significantly predicts whether a particular compensation scheme will increase acceptance. Moreover, the paper finds that the satisfaction with local planning procedures and the tradeoff people make between environmental sustainability and economic competitiveness consistently affect people’s attitudes.

The Working Paper can be downloaded at: https://www.esri.ie/pubs/WP559.pdf

It should be noted that working papers published by ESRI represent un-refereed work-in-progress by researchers who are solely responsible for the content and any views expressed therein.

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