An economic analysis of community preferences for wind farm development in Ireland
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The core thesis objectives are: the identification of the key attributes of wind farm development in Ireland and the measurement of community representation and setback distance on wind farm preferences; the establishment of the public’s opinion on development for export and the analysis of those who choose to forgo the financial benefits of production and select the status quo of no wind farm development. The first two chapters of this thesis establish the motivation behind this research and the theoretical frameworks underpinning this work. Chapter 3 presents the core choice modelling results including the community representative and setback attributes. Chapter 4 focusses on attitudes towards wind farm development for export combining developer and community focus groups and survey results and chapter 5 analyses those respondents who serially selected the status quo of no new wind farm development using survey results and a binomial logit model, with conclusions in chapter 6. My findings reveal that the majority of respondents are willing to make (monetary) tradeoffs to allow for wind power initiatives and respondents require less compensation if provision is made for a community representative and setback distance is increased. Although the export of renewable energy from Ireland to the UK is currently on hold, my findings suggest that significant investment is required by the state and wind farm operators in better information provision, trust building, effective instruments to internalise wind farm externalities and co-management arrangements before Ireland can fully capture the benefits of wind exports to the UK. Demographic factors and attitudes towards the environment and wind energy in general strongly influence the likelihood of serial opposition and results also indicate an information effect, with those who are unsure about their opinions on wind farm development being more likely to select the status quo of no new wind farm for each choice set.