Answering a call for evidence. Blog by Patrick Devine-Wright

Published on 13 June 2023

Patrick Devine-Wright, ACCESS Director, University of Exeter

The UK Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) is currently seeking views on developing local partnerships for onshore wind with supportive communities in England (read more).

After following several online and face to face meetings with DESNZ officials over the past month or so, I submitted an official consultation response.

The call for evidence was about the roll out of new grid infrastructures to connect up new net zero sectors (e.g. offshore wind). That means new high voltage power lines, substations, undersea cables etc. that connect up sites of electricity generation to where it is used (i.e. cities, south of England etc.). The siting of these has been highly controversial in the past, since they typically change the character of coastal and rural areas, and provoke objections from local communities and environmental groups.

The government is proposing to introduce guidance whereby those proposing such infrastructures would provide financial benefits to ‘host communities’ directly impacted by nearby infrastructures. This is a good thing, in my view, as it recognises local impacts and is consistent with a ‘just’ energy transition. But if done poorly, it can provoke accusations of bribery and, rather than secure community support for new projects, enflame and amplify objections.

My consultation response goes into some detail about new government ‘guidance’ on this matter and brings the social science evidence base – which is international as well as UK based, and which also consists of many papers I have published over the past decade – to the attention of policy makers.

Find out more about Calls for Evidence and consultations