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Public Attitudes of Proposed Wind Farm

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  • Rachel McCarthy

With Irelands excellent wind resources, wind power has become one of the most rapidly growing sources of renewable energy in Ireland (Comhar, Nov 11). Many people in Ireland claim to be in favour of wind farming, and maintain that wind power is good source of renewable energy, which helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, numerous people also believe that these wind farms spoil the scenery and may have a negative effect on the local landscape, as well as having negative effects on tourism in the area concerned. As plans to create a new wind farm in County Clare have been put in motion, I wish to access the opinions of the citizens of West Clare on the proposed construction of a wind farm on the western slope of Mount Callan.

Aims and Objectives

As both the people of West Clare, and the wind farm itself, have to co-exist in the area in question, the opinions and attitudes of the local people are paramount in formulating an effective plan, and in executing it to final completion of the project. As the financial sustainability of the residents of the chosen area rely primarily on agriculture and tourism, opinions given on the impact the building of a wind farm may have on both of these economic areas are crucial to effectively and smoothly completing the project.

The aim of this project is to access the opinions and attitudes of the citizens in West Clare on the proposed construction of a wind farm on the western slope of Mount Callan.

The main objectives of this survey are to:

  • Access whether or not the citizens of West Clare support the use of wind power.
  • Access whether or not the citizens of West Clare support or oppose the construction of a wind farm on Mount Callan.
  • Access whether or not the citizens in West Clare believe that a wind farm would benefit their local economy.
  • To find out the opinions of the citizens of West Clare, on the effects a wind farm would have on the local landscape.

Methodology

Statistical analysis mapping can be used to combine quantitative and qualitative data collection methods. This is used to create a basis for the primary research. I have used the statistical analysis mapping method to extract data from the census in order to help me identify my area of study. To provide appropriate information for my study, I have mapped data relating to location, age, gender and length of time living at the current location (Kitchin & Tate, 2000).

Kilmihil, Creegh and Liscasey are the three closest townlands to the proposed construction site of the wind farm. These three townlands have a combined population of 724 with 65% of people being over the age of twenty. Of the population over the age of twenty, 52% of them are male and 48% are female (CSO). I will take a sample of 100 people, 52 male and 48 female from the combined population of the three towns aged over twenty. I will use systematic random sampling, selecting the fifth element at random, to conduct the questionnaire for quantitative data collection. These questionnaires will be distributed personally in local centres. This method of research has been used by Michler and Kodeih in their article Mussel and Seaweed Cultivation in Offshore Wind Farms: An Opinion Survey (Michler & Kodeih, 2008).

Q1.To which age category do you belong?20 – 30 31 – 40 41 – 50 51 – 64 65+

Q2Gender:Male Female

Q3. Marital Status:Single Married Widow/Widower

Q4.How many Children do you have?0 1 – 2 3 – 5 6+

Q5.Do you live in an urban or rural area?Urban Rural

Q6.How long have you lived here?

Q7.Is your household accommodation: Owner occupied with a mortgage? Owner occupied without a mortgage? Being purchased from the Local Authority? Being Rented from the Local Authority? Being rented from a private landlord?

Q8.What is your occupation?

Q9.If your occupation relates to agriculture, Arable farming what kind of agriculture are you engaged in? Livestock Other

Q10.Do you think wind farms will affect agriculture?Yes No If yes, please explain.

Q11. Would you support the constructionYes of a wind farm in your area? No

Q12.Do you think a wind farm would affectYes the house prices in your area? No

Q13.Do you think a wind farm wouldYes benefit your local economy? No

Q14.Do you think that wind farm will Yes contribute to Irelands energy independence? No

Q15.What affect do you think a wind farm would have on the local landscape?

Q16.What problems do you think a wind farm in your area might cause?

Q.17Would you be willing to take part in a follow upinterview to further express your views on wind farming? Yes No If Yes, please complete the following Name: Address: Phone Number:

“Qualitative research methods are necessary when limited research has focused on a concept or phenomenon and it “needs to be understood” (Hunt, 2010). I will focus on interviews with the residents of these three towns to collect quantitative data. I will use an open-ended interview to conduct this part of the project. This technique uses a type of structured questionnaire, which does not constrict the answers of interviewee to categories provided by the interviewer; this better reflects the interviewee’s own thinking (Kitchin & Tate, 2000). I have included a question on the quantitative questionnaire enquiring whether or not participants would be willing to take part in an interview. I am hoping I will receive twenty five participants that will agree to this. If I do not receive the required amount of participants for interviewing from the questionnaire, I will utilise the practice of cold calling to obtain the remaining participants. I will use a sample size of twenty five people, thirteen male and twelve female. I will interview six people from Kilmilhil, ten people from Liscasey and nine people from Creegh, to access their opinions on the proposed wind farm. This method of data collection was used by Sustainable Energy Ireland in their article on Attitudes towards the developments of wind farms in Ireland (ESI, 2003).

Interview schedule

I have read and understood this consent form completely and am willing to take part in this interview.

I understand the purpose of this interview.

I am aware that I can withdraw from this interview at any time.

I understand that all my answers will be considered in the strictest confidence.

Signed:Date:

I am interested in the opinions of the citizens of West Clare on the construction of a wind farm on the west slope on Mount Callan. I would like to ask you a series of questions related to this topic.

Q1. To what extent would you support or oppose the construction of a wind farm in your area?

Q2. Are you in favour of the further developments of wind farms in Ireland?

Q3. What benefits do you think a wind farm would bring to your area?

Q4. What problems do you think a wind farm might cause in your area?

Q5.What affects do you think a wind farm would have on the local landscape?

Q6. Do you think the construction of a wind farm in your area would contribute to Ireland’s energy independence?

Q7. Are you concerned about climate change?

Q8. Would you be willing to pay more for your electricity if it comes from a clean renewable source?

The benefits of generating primary data are that it is known precisely how the data was produced, and if any problems arose in the process. This is the system mostly used for data collection; however is some cases the generation of primary data is not possible then secondary data may be used. Secondary data may also be used to help supplement the primary data you have already collected (Kitchin & Tate, 2000). As numerous methods of data collection are required to conduct this study, use of secondary document analysis will also be employed. The data in these documents have been collected and analysed by someone else, and usually for a different purpose. However these secondary sources are useful and can aid in strengthening the understanding of a chosen topic.

The sources I intend to use are as follows:

  • Busch, M., Gee, K., Burkhard, B., Lange, M., & Stelljes, N. (2011). Conceptualizing the link between marine ecosystem services and human well-being: the case of offshore wind farming. International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management 7:3, pp. 109-203.
  • Comhar. (Nov 11). Community Renewable Energy in Ireland: Status, barriers and potential options. Dublin: Comar Publications.
  • CSO. (n.d.). Retrieved 04 18, 2014, from Central Statistics Office: http://census.cso,oe/sapmap/
  • ESI. (2003). Retrieved 04 2014, 19, from Sustainable Energy Ireland: http://www.seai.ie/Publications/Renewables_Publications_/Wind_Power/Attitudes_towards_the_development_of_wind_farms_in_ireland.pdf
  • Hunt, T. (2010). Big wind in small town Ontario:. Toronto: Department of Geography, Collaborative Program in Environmental Studies, University of Toronto.
  • Kitchin, R., & Tate, N. J. (2000). Conducting research into human geography: Theory, methodology and pratice. Essex: Pearson Education Limited.
  • Michler, C. T., & Kodeih, S. (2008). Mussel and seaweed cultivation in offshore wind farms: An opinion survey. Coastal management, 36(4), pp. 392-411.
  • Smith, E. R., & Klick, H. (2007). Explaining NIMBY Opposition to Wind Power. Santa Barbara: University of California, Santa Barbara.
  • DeLacy, P. Barton, (2001) Wind farms: a valuation primer, Appraisal journal, 79(1), pp. 28-43.
  • Wilson, Keith (2011), Winds of change, Geographical, 83(5) p. 74.

Bibliography

Works Cited

Comhar. (Nov 11). Community Renewable Energy in Ireland: Status, barriers and potential options. Dublin: Comar Publications.

CSO. (n.d.). Retrieved 04 18, 2014, from Central Statistics Office: http://census.cso,oe/sapmap/

ESI. (2003). Retrieved 04 2014, 19, from Sustainable Energy Ireland: http://www.seai.ie/Publications/Renewables_Publications_/Wind_Power/Attitudes_towards_the_development_of_wind_farms_in_ireland.pdf

Hunt, T. (2010). Big wind in small town Ontario:. Toronto: Department of Geography, Collaborative Program in Environmental Studies University of Toronto, pp. 24-27

Kitchin, R., & Tate, N. J. (2000). Conducting research into human geography: Theory, methodology and pratice. Essex: Pearson Education Limited, pp. 28-44

Michler, C. T., & Kodeih, S. (2008). Mussel and seaweed cultivation in offshore wind farms: An opinion survey. COASTAL MANAGEMENT 36: 4, pp. 392-411.

SEI. (2013). Retrieved 04 19, 2014, from Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland: http://census.cso.ie/sasapmap


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