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.


Note on publication

This project was jointly commissioned by Marine Scotland with Sciencewise[1] and aimed to inform the development of a conceptual framework of clusters of “social values” (things that are important to people that could be impacted by an offshore renewables development). The framework is intended to be used to help to make Social Impact Assessments more true to life, based on lived experience and also illustrates the use of the public dialogue methodology for community engagement that is useful for socio-economic impact assessments.

Collingwood Environmental Planning[2], and their partners, were commissioned to carry out the project, and what follows is their report, which is an important, high quality contribution to the evidence base on this topic. It is now being published as part of the evidence base underpinning the development of new Socio- Economic Impact Assessment Guidance for Offshore Renewable Energy that Marine Scotland has developed (due to be published shortly) so that it can be used in tandem with this new guidance.

It should be noted that people’s social values are a product of time and context of their lived experience and these may have changed given societal changes since the study was completed in 2016. The impact of Brexit, the COVID pandemic, climate change, the cost of living crisis and the advent of ScotWind as well as other wider changes, may have led to a shift in individual values in relation to offshore renewable energy since the report was completed. However, the principles of understanding values when doing social impact assessment and the methodologies of participatory engagement are still valid. A socio-economic impact assessment should always take stock of the context at the time in which impacts are being assessed. Marine Scotland is also looking to further develop the evidence base in this area through the ScotMER socioeconomic research programme.

Marine Scotland, June 2022



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