Ownership claims, valuation practices, and the unpacking of energy-landscape conflicts

Title Ownership claims, valuation practices, and the unpacking of energy-landscape conflicts
Year of Publication 2012
Authors van der Horst, D.; Vermeylen, S.
Type of Publication Journal Article
Journal International Review of Sociology
Volume 22
Pagination 429-445
DOI 10.1080/03906701.2012.730822
Funding Round ESPA Programme Framework Grant
Project Code ne/i003819/1
Open Access No

There is now a substantive body of academic literature which focuses on protests against local infrastructural developments. This literature is often characterised by the key words ‘NIMBY’ or (facility-) ‘siting controversies’. The rapid development of renewable energy technologies - which are largely sited in rural areas - has created a new version of this controversy; energy-landscape conflicts. In many countries, large infrastructural developments are regulated through spatial planning legislation, often causing various tensions between new technologies, an evolving policy agenda, and a legislative framework which was largely conceived in a different era and which is slow to adapt. Alternatively, and in line with neo-liberal thinking, the logic of development can be subjected to cost-benefit analysis, whereby the value of the wind farm can be compared with the value of the ‘unspoiled’ landscape. This paper takes a more holistic approach to energy- landscape conflicts, by examining claims of ownership and notions and measures of value inherent in different claims and value systems which (seek to) influence decision-making. We examine both the logic of monetary valuation and the implicit value statements in various policy intervention options to point at the need for a more heterogeneous and multidisciplinary approach to policy evaluation. We then look at notions of ownership, rights and duties in relation to landscape and to our energy future, and we highlight the potential for using an analytical property rights framework which cuts across various levels of claims and value statements, from the national and ideological to the personal and practice-based.