Offshore renewables - social impact: two way conversation with the people of Scotland

Findings from a piece of participatory research into the social impacts of offshore wind farms (OWFS) in Scotland. It describes innovative methods used to develop a conceptual framework, based on social values, that enables a better understanding of the social impacts of OWFs.

8 The Round 2 Dialogue

Overview of chapter

This chapter has four Sections:

  • Round 2 objectives
  • Round 2 Location and participants
  • Round 2 dialogue process

8.1 Round 2 dialogue materials Round 2 objectives

The project objectives were reviewed at the end of Round 1. Some of the project’s initial objectives (shown in Table 1.1) were fully achieved in Round 1 and were therefore no longer relevant to Round 2. The objectives and desired outputs for Round 2 are shown in Table 8.1. The objectives shown in italics relate to the way that the dialogue was carried out (‘process objectives’).

Table 8.1 Objectives of the Round 2 dialogue

Dialogue Objectives

To design and run a dialogue process that:

  • Enables individuals to participate freely without prejudice, where their input is listened to and respected.

  • Collects information in a way that is transparent to members of the public and which can be analysed and interpreted to inform Marine Scotland’s future decision making.

  • Explores how members of the public would like Marine Scotland, other decision-makers and developers to engage with them in the future, considering the most appropriate tools for engagement.

Dialogue Outputs

A structured way of describing the types of things that are important to members of the public (social values) and the ways that these might be affected, positively or negatively, by offshore renewables.

A process for assessing social impacts that incorporates social values and the ways in which members of the public feel that these could be affected, positively or negatively, by offshore renewables.

Success criteria

Participants feel that they have been able to contribute their views and have their say and that the events will have an impact on policy (from Evaluation Questionnaires)

Participants recognise that their views have been reflected in the proposed approaches for assessing social impacts.

Participants, policy-makers and scientists feel that the dialogue is a worthwhile and legitimate part of the policy-making process.

Dialogue Objectives

To involve members of the general public who have not been previously engaged in marine development issues.

Dialogue Outputs

Public participants reflect a range of perspectives and interests and are able to articulate and reflect on both the differences and the points on which they are in agreement.

Success criteria

The public participant and specialist perspectives are generally recognised to reflect a good cross-section of public and specialist viewpoints.

Dialogue Objectives

To develop new approaches to understanding and assessing social impacts that are able to account for complex social interactions and heterogeneous communities, reflecting lived experience.

Dialogue Outputs

Public participants’ descriptions of what is important to them and their reflections on how these important things might potentially be affected, either positively or negatively, by offshore renewables, are used to develop sets or categories of values and potential impacts that can be used in social impact assessment.

Success criteria

Public participants recognise the proposed descriptions and categories of social values and the potential positive and negative impacts on them as reflecting their own experience and what has been discussed during the dialogue.

Dialogue Objectives

To understand the impact of development or change on things people value and factors that contribute to this impact.

Dialogue Outputs

Reflections by public participants on how they think about valued and important features in their lives. Reflections by public participants on wider societal aspects such as social equity, responsibility towards future generations, etc.

Success criteria

Use of learning from the project in other parts of Marine Scotland and/or the Scottish Government

Dialogue Objectives

To carry out the project in the knowledge of other research, ensuring it is informed by relevant research and builds on the current knowledge base.

Success criteria

Demonstrable academic rigour applied in the analysis of evidence and development of approaches.

8.2 Round 2 dialogue location and participants

The Round 2 dialogue event was held on 2 – 3 October 2015 in Glasgow. The main reason for choosing Glasgow was the ease of access for the participants from the other places where the Round 1 events were held. Holding the event over two half days made it easier for participants from Kirkwall, Islay and Helmsdale to attend.

The participants were people who had expressed an interest after the Round 1 events in being involved in further dialogue. All those who expressed an interest (60 people) were contacted with the provisional date of the Round 2 event and asked to reconfirm their interest. Sixteen people replied positively. Ten people attended the event. A number of reasons were given for people deciding not to attend after initially confirming their interest and availability, mainly related to personal and family problems and difficulties in taking time off work.

There was at least one participant from each of the Round 1 locations and the participants represented a good mix of ages, occupations and educational qualifications (see Table 8.2). There was an overrepresentation of women, with the group including only three men.

Table 8.2 Characteristics of Round 2 dialogue participants



















Employment status







Educational level




Not available





8.3 Round 2 dialogue process

The Round 2 dialogue activities included a review of the analysis of the findings from Round 1, when participants discussed the value clusters and descriptions of the ways that offshore renewables might affect these, both positively and negatively; a conversation about the way that Marine Scotland currently assesses how proposed changes in the marine environment might affect things that matter to people (Social Impact Assessment); and the techniques that Marine Scotland might use to make these assessments. See Table 8.3 for the programme.

Table 8.3 Programme for the Round 2 dialogue



Friday 2nd October – evening


Welcome and Introductions


Feedback and small group discussion around Round 1 findings on values and impacts




Plenary discussion on values and impacts


Summary and looking forward to Day 2



Saturday, 3rd October – Morning




Improving assessment of social impacts – presentation


Small groups: improving the current social impact assessment process


Small groups: considering techniques for incorporating public values into social impact assessment


Coffee break


Plenary discussion


Feedback and next steps



The programme of activities was designed to ensure that the objectives for Round 2 were achieved. The activities and their outputs, which in turn contributed to the achievement of the dialogue objectives, are described below.

  • Review and verification of participant value and impact clusters from Round 1. The clusters of values and the ways in which public participants felt these might be affected, positively or negatively, by offshore renewables, were shown on two maps of Scotland (one map for values and the second for the ways they might be affected by offshore renewables). The clusters were illustrated by quotes from the Round 1 dialogue, providing a flavour of the conversations. In Round 2 participants were asked to comment on whether the clusters fully reflected what was discussed in Round 1 and whether they reflected the views of all participants.

The output of this activity was the verification of the analysis of the discussions held during Round 1.

  • Understanding current Marine Scotland practice for assessing social impacts. A member of staff gave a presentation on the way the organisation currently assesses social impacts, both positive and negative, and the changes needed to make the process fit for purpose.

This session gave participants enough information about current practice for assessing social impacts for them to be able to contribute to reflections on this process and how it could be improved.

  • Improving the current social impact assessment process. Using posters with a diagram showing the steps in an assessment and a set of icon markers - either blank or printed with a recommendation for ways of better incorporating public views into assessment - the participants discussed at which points in the process would the suggested recommendations need to be introduced and what other changes could be made to improve the process.

The output of this activity was a set of proposals for ways of incorporating social values and public views, interests and concerns into the assessment process.

  • Techniques to for incorporating public perspectives into social impact assessment. A carousel method, with three stands, each with information about a different technique for gathering and assessing data on social values and/or impacts on these, was used to allow all participants to explore the different techniques (indicators, surveys and dialogues).

The carousel generated sets of comments and views on each of the techniques. These were to develop proposals for improved approaches to social impact assessment.

  • Plenary discussions were used to gather share points coming up in the small groups with all the participants, to tease out different views and opinions and to get a better understanding of the factors influencing the views expressed.

The plenaries ensured that public participants were able to reflect a range of perspectives and interests and to articulate and reflect on both their differences and the points on which they were in agreement.

8.4 Round 2 dialogue materials

The materials provided a focus for group discussions and were used by both participants and the facilitator to reinforce points by showing them on a map for diagram. The materials were also used to note comments or suggested changes both to the information provided and the views reflected as well as to the way information was presented visually.

An example of the map of the value clusters that emerged from Round 1 is shown in Figure 8.1. The full set of materials used in Round 2 can be found in Appendix 8.

Figure 8.1 Map of the value clusters emerging from Round 1
shows a map of the value clusters emerging from round 1. The figure consists of a map of Scotland with pins or icons denoting where the dialogues took place. Linked to each location are quotes illustrating the values or participants in that location. In the top left corner there is a table or key showing how the SIA impact category relates to participants values and sample values. For example the SIA impact category ‘Way of life’ link to the Participant’s values of ‘family, employment and cost of living’ these in turn are linked to the sample values of ‘future generations, career opportunities and financial stability’.



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