Meet the academic building public trust around new energy infrastructure

Published on 22 June 2023

ACCESS Director Patrick Devine-Wright is interviewed by Connected Places Catapult and 3Ci (Cities Commission for Climate Investment). He reflects on his own experiences and explores how places can be changed for the better if local people remain fully involved.

“My personal views are not relevant; I’m more interested in other people’s arguments,” explains environmental psychologist and geographer Patrick Devine-Wright, who is determined to better understand how the ambitions of corporations align with the needs of communities around infrastructure development.” 

In particular, he is keen to capture people’s thoughts and facilitate fair discussion associated with proposals to develop renewable energy projects, such as onshore wind farms and biomass power stations. 

“I want to hear what local residents say, where companies are coming from and what councils think – and to connect it all up,” he explains. “Communications around new projects tend to be poor; communities have little trust in companies, and companies don’t engage enough with communities. There is much more we can all do to create a better way for infrastructure planning.”

Patrick Devine-Wright, Professor in Human Geography at the University of Exeter, provided valuable insights to Connected Places Catapult and 3Ci (Cities Commission for Climate Investment) on a guide for local authorities about adopting effective community engagement approaches to de-risk investment in place-based net zero projects.

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