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.

6 Findings from the Round 1 Dialogues: Values, Impacts and Engagement

Overview of chapter

This Chapter has five Sections:

  • What participants valued – this focusses on what participants expressed as important to them through the concentric circles and mapping values tasks.
  • Questions that participants raised about offshore renewables – this focusses on information and attitude questions asked by participants at the dialogues.
  • Expressed impacts on values of offshore renewables – this focusses on the impacts, both positive and negative that participants expressed in relation to the four offshore renewable scenarios.
  • Reflections on the relationship between characteristics of offshore renewables and values expressed.
  • Improvements to the public engagement processes for offshore renewables – this focusses on how participants suggested they would like to be engaged with around offshore renewables and how the process could be improved.

6.1 What participants valued

This section focuses on what participants expressed as important to them; their values. The summaries here come from analysis of the concentric circle exercise and the mapping values exercise. Overall, eleven clusters of related codes were extracted from the data. These ‘value clusters’ are presented in Box 6.1.

Box 6.1: Value Clusters

1. Way of life: Family / family life / intergenerational issues

2. Way of Life: Jobs / career / employment

3. Way of life: Money / cost of living

4. Community: Local jobs / local industry / community sustainability

5. Community: Transport connections / technology connections

6. Community: Education / shops / housing / healthcare

7. Community: Socialising / recreation / parks / leisure

8. Culture: Local identity / cultural heritage / Gaelic

9. Community: Friends/ being involved / supporting others

10. Environment: Connection to nature / landscape / views

11. Political and decision-making systems

Where those themes were part of an SIA category they were put into that category, but if they did not fit we have reported them separately. Within each value cluster how participants talk about what they value, how important are the things of value and any differences between locations are discussed.

6.1.1 Way of life: Family / family life / intergenerational issues

A key cluster emerged around family, family life (including pets) and intergenerational issues. This cluster falls within the SIA ‘way of life’ category. Overall, there were 122 mentions within this cluster, it being one of the largest. 90 of those were in the inner circle, showing its central importance to participants.

The key words within this cluster were:

  • Family;
  • Children, grandchildren, partner, wife, husband;
  • Family support;
  • Love, relationships;
  • Future family, legacy, future generations;
  • Places to go with families; and
  • Family activities.

An interesting feature of this value cluster was the limited elaboration on why family was important. Rather it was a given, something very implicit that did not require discussion. We would suggest that the expressed importance of family may reflect the practice of maintaining and developing “bonding capital”: close ties and emotional support. This was made explicit in expressions in relation to children such as “my world revolves around my gorgeous baby” (concentric circle Stranraer) and grandchildren “grandchildren. I’m retired so this is more important to me than money” (St Andrews participant).

Across the different locations the most mentions were in Stranraer (35), with 20 in Glasgow, 19 in both St Andrews and Islay, 16 in Helmsdale and 13 in Kirkwall.

6.1.2 Way of Life: Jobs / career / employment

Jobs / career / employment was a common cluster within the SIA ‘way of life’ category with 49 mentions, 20 in the inner circle, 21 in the middle, three in the outer and five unplaced. In terms of the way it was mentioned, the following were the key words used:

  • Jobs;
  • Career / personal development / opportunities;
  • Employment;
  • Work;
  • Unemployment;
  • Work / life balance; and
  • As a basis for everything.

This value cluster focussed on personal employment and in many ways not much was discussed around it. There was mention of positive experiences of work and also work / life balance being important to a few participants. Careers rather than just jobs were discussed as well as the importance of personal careers for individuals.

In terms of the different dialogue locations, participants in Stranraer had a discussion about unemployment at both a personal level and the town level and four participants had unemployment as one of their values. Glasgow and St Andrews had the most participants who mentioned jobs with 14 and 13 respectively, suggesting it was a key topic for many participants. In Helmsdale and Islay eight participants in each mentioned jobs and five in Kirkwall.

6.1.3 Way of life: Money / cost of living

Money / cost of living started as an emergent cluster within the SIA ‘fears and aspirations’ category as used by participants in the concentric circle exercise. After analysis however it was considered to be a better fit within the SIA ’way of life’ category. Overall, there were 33 mentions, with over half (19) in the middle circle of importance, nine putting it in the inner circle, three in the outer and two not in a circle.

It was expressed in three main ways:

  • Cost of living;
  • Money, finances; and
  • Security, financial stability.

Within cost of living it was expressed that “everything costs” and fuel and energy prices were highlighted specifically along with transport costs (ferries and planes). Bills and mortgages were also mentioned. The expense of living where they were located was also part of this category which in turn was linked to the remoteness of places and the cost of getting in goods and services.

Money was talked about in a personal way and linked to working or not working. It was also discussed in relation to the local economy and how this can go into decline with shops closing. Security was another way that money was mentioned, in the sense that having money gave that person a feeling of security.

In terms of differences between places, none of the Islay participants had any of the money / cost of living categories in their circles, unlike the other participants. For Kirkwall costs were linked to fuel, energy and transport whereas with the other participants it was more linked to personal means and employment. In Stranraer the cost of travel to the hospital was discussed together with the feeling of stigma associated with being unemployed.

6.1.4 Community: Local jobs / local industry / community sustainability

An emerging value cluster on local jobs that would enable young people to stay in local areas was identified. This included issues related to developing a local economy and developing local industry which linked to the community sustainability code within the SIA ‘fears and aspirations’ category and the tourism code within the SIA ‘culture’ category, so these are also reported here. Overall, these were considered to sit within the SIA ‘community’ category. There were 30 mentions of this cluster as a value within the concentric circles, with 17 in the inner circle, 11 in the middle, one on the outer and one unplaced.

The key words for the value cluster were:

  • Local jobs, local industry, tourism;
  • Keeping the young;
  • Training for younger people; and
  • Community sustainability, community development.

In terms of local jobs there were discussions around the lack of local jobs for younger people making them have to leave or travel long distances for work, leaving behind ‘top heavy’ communities with an older age range and a reduced local economy. This linked with issues of community sustainability and how to keep villages alive and stop the decline in jobs so that people are able to stay where they would like to. Specific industries were mentioned either as needing support or in decline: fishing, farming, local shops and also those that are part of the local identity (whisky and fishing). In terms of the type of industry the issue of scale was raised, specifically, concern that new industry or jobs would be need to be adaptable to small areas, not be too industrial or be part of large corporations and be sensitive to the environment. Experiences with large supermarkets squeezing out local shops (Helmsdale) and the distilleries changing from local industries to being run by larger corporations who did not employ local people (Islay) informed these discussions. Participants were very conscious of the need for local employment but understood that for it to support their communities going forward without them losing their identities, it would need to be at the right scale. The fragility of local communities was expressed specifically in Helmsdale: “there are small communities hanging on by their fingernails” (Helmsdale participant). Tourism as an industry was discussed as part of the economy (Islay) and with a feeling that more could be offered to tourists, that they come for one thing e.g. whisky but are interested in seeing more of the “real life” in the place but also with a sense that “tourism only really works if all core stuff allowed to thrive” (Islay concentric circle).

The second key area for this cluster was that of keeping local people, especially younger generations in their communities with the concern expressed that there were not jobs for younger people, or the training to enable them to stay. Young people leaving for jobs and training was discussed and the desire to have longer term employment to keep the local communities alive and to retain a good balance of ages: “It’s like a retirement home, you have to sustain an income to live here, loads of people return but there is nothing here [for young people], I don’t see what could be created to help people to stay” (Helmsdale participant).

There was a marked variation across the locations with no mention in Glasgow of local jobs, local industry or community sustainability and only one mention in St Andrews and Stranraer. In Glasgow this is perhaps unsurprising given it is a city and St Andrews is an affluent town with good connections. Stranraer participants discussed issues of unemployment but there seemed less sense of people wanting to stay in the area. The cluster had the most mentions in Kirkwall (ten), and Helmsdale (nine) with six in Islay in the concentric circles. In Helmsdale and Islay the issues came out in the discussions of the concentric circles, highlighting the specific issues of remote and island communities. Islay was the only place where tourism came up in the concentric circles (six mentions) which is unsurprising given the dominance of tourism associated with the whisky industry as well as the island’s wealth of birds and wildlife.

6.1.5 Community: Transport connections / technology connections

Within the SIA ’community’ category a further cluster relating to transport connections emerged focussed on differing levels of accessibility of places and the importance of good transport connections. A related theme was that of technology connections: internet / phone and that is reported here as well. Within the cluster there were 35 mentions of transport connections and 13 of technology connections within the concentric circles, with most of these being in the middle circle. The key words for this cluster were:

  • Transport, public transport, bus, plane, train, ferries;
  • Car, driving, roads;
  • Accessibility to specific services; and
  • Broadband and phone connectivity.

With respect to transport and specifically public transport, both its importance and the lack of good services were highlighted. Transport was considered to be important for older people and those living remotely. All means of public transport were mentioned. Public transport was linked to private transport and cars / driving came up as an important issue together with roads. Specifically, having enough roads and good roads were valued: “my car, if you didn’t have it you couldn’t get out of here, look at how many [how few] trains we have” (Helmsdale Participant).

In discussing this value cluster participants brought up issues of accessibility and remoteness, highlighting the need to be connected to other places e.g. bigger towns, the rest of Scotland and services e.g. health services, education, jobs: “sometimes in Stranraer you can feel quite excluded and isolated, so it’s important to feel connected to the rest of Scotland” (Stranraer Participant). The issue of access to healthcare was discussed specifically in Stranraer. Being able to leave easily was also an issue that was raised, specifically on Islay: “most people can’t afford planes. So to leave is a huge undertaking, a car is paramount” (Islay Participant).

Technological connections were important to a minority of participants, specifically internet and phone: “and wifi, that’s important so you can use your phone” (Glasgow Participant).

Across the locations all mentioned the importance of transport connections, including participants in Glasgow who felt quite strongly that people in a community such as the hypothetical one shown on the scenario map would need to have good connectivity, given its remoteness. Transport was mentioned most in Islay (11) and least in St Andrews (two) in the concentric circles. In relation to technology connections these were not mentioned in Islay or St Andrews but mentioned most in Glasgow (seven) followed by Helmsdale (three), Stranraer (two) and Kirkwall (one).

6.1.6 Community: Education / shops / housing / healthcare

A value cluster emerged relating to the importance of key local amenities and services especially education, shops, housing and healthcare. Within Vanclay’s (2002) list of SIA categories ‘healthcare’ (including health, hospitals, access to GPs etc) was covered within the category ‘environment, health and wellbeing’. Health and wellbeing have subsequently become a separate category. However, for our initial analysis, it was reported within this ‘community’ category, given healthcare’s importance as a vital service used by communities. The key words used in the concentric circles to describe this were:

  • Learning, studying, education / furthering education, university, schools;
  • Shopping, local amenities / facilities, supermarkets, big shops;
  • Housing; and
  • Health, staying / being / eating healthy, fitness, staying active / walks to keep fit, GP, hospital facilities, NHS.

The importance of local services, healthcare was mentioned the most (40 times). It could therefore be construed as the most important local service for the dialogue participants. This is quite intuitive given the central importance of health and healthcare contributing to overall wellbeing. During the mapping values exercise, participants often used their local circumstances to explain how and why specific aspects of health values (e.g. hospitals, GP surgeries etc) had been mapped: “access to good local health services [is important] – people have to go to Dumfries for everything to do with hospitals” (Stranraer Participant). The discussion around healthcare services at the Stranraer dialogue was noted as being particularly animated and participants highlighted bad experiences with healthcare services: “…my health service could be a lot better. A lot of people have to go to Dumfries and Galloway – my daughter had to go […] to get an epidural” (Stranraer Participant). Along with St Andrews, the Stranraer dialogue was where health services were mentioned most during the concentric circles exercise (12 and 11 times respectively). Participants in the Glasgow dialogue were able to imagine themselves living in a more remote coastal location and the possible implications in terms of health and access to healthcare services: “a local GP, a local doctor is important…” and “when you’re living in a community like that you would want to be near emergency services” (Glasgow Participants).

Education was another key service valued by participants within this value cluster – it was mentioned by 28 participants in their concentric circle diagrams. Again, this is intuitive given the critical importance of education, especially given the related theme on local jobs / industry and community sustainability – i.e. the need to ensure that the local population (and the local young population in particular) is suitably equipped to make the most of new job opportunities (e.g. as a result of offshore renewables development) was seen as a key value.. There are also links between access to education and the theme on transport connections: “if you’re going to be living there then you need a school as well – you don’t want young kids to have to travel too far” (Glasgow Participant). Participants made links between access to education and subsequent access to wider opportunities: “you need education to get access to services” (Islay Participant).

Access to shops / shopping and housing were also evidenced within this value cluster though not as strongly as healthcare or education (mentioned 18 and six times respectively). Housing was discussed most in the Islay dialogue including a comment about affordability and new housing. The value of having access to shops / shopping was discussed most in Stranraer and Glasgow. In Stranraer, the discussion around shops and shopping during the mapping values exercise focussed on negative issues related to Stranraer’s economy, highlighting the important links between local jobs / industry / economy (see above) and the provision of shopping related local services: “most shops [are] shut down. There’s no good shops in the town, you have to go somewhere else” and “local shops are too expensive – they put up prices because they are struggling” (Stranraer Participants). In Glasgow, the participants were more positive and focussed on specifying the types of shopping related services they would expect to see / want in the hypothetical community, perhaps reflecting their ready access to shops in Glasgow. Indeed one younger male participant in Glasgow suggested that: “I couldn’t live in the countryside as it doesn’t have any shops”.

6.1.7 Community & culture: Socialising / recreation / parks / leisure

A value cluster was identified within the SIA ‘community’ and ‘culture’ categories relating to various activities, amenities, pastimes and services that combine to contribute to the cultural and social life of a community. Various SIA ‘community’ and ‘culture’ codes cluster to form this theme, especially: art and photography / entertainment / music, dancing and singing (culture); parks and recreational facilities / socialising and places to do that e.g. pubs (community); and time to myself (way of life). Two bottom-up (data-led) codes under ‘emerging values’ also clustered under this theme: sports, recreation and reading; and travel. The key words used in the concentric circles to describe this value cluster were:

  • Travel: travelling / travel abroad, holidays / going on holiday, adventure, touring, visiting family abroad, visiting new places;
  • Sports / recreation / reading: football team, leisure / free time, hobbies, participating in and watching sports (football, rugby, cricket, running, swimming, golf, motorsports, cycling etc), relaxing, camping, festivals, reading / books, keeping fit, food / eating well, highland games;
  • Culture: art and photography: art, living somewhere with art and culture, photography;
  • Culture: music, dancing and singing: music / live music, gigs / concerts, dancing, highland games, singing, local music / musicians;
  • Culture: entertainment: cinema, films / movies, entertainment;
  • Community: parks and recreational facilities: quiet areas, parks, nice places to visit / sit / enjoy, playing fields, golf course, community halls, activities for families; and
  • Community: socialising and places to do that: friends, socialising / being social / meeting up, pub / bar, eating places, clubs, cafes.

The most frequently mentioned sub-issue within this value cluster was ‘sports / recreation / reading’ (mentioned 87 times across all concentric circle data). This could potentially be assigned to several of Vanclay’s (2002) SIA categories (e.g. culture, community, and way of life) though it has been reported here as an ‘emerging value’ evidenced in participants’ concentric circles diagrams. A broad range of sports and recreational activities were mentioned on participants’ concentric circle diagrams (see above). When it came to the mapping values exercise however there wasn’t a great deal of discussion about these activities, perhaps because many of them can be undertaken at home (e.g. reading, watching sports, relaxing, keeping fit) ormay require travel elsewhere (e.g. festivals). Activities that require specific facilities, infrastructures, landscapes etc (e.g. walking, camping, golf) were discussed to a degree: “I like to walk up the Braes, anywhere I get the opportunity” (Glasgow Participant); and “camping – there should be camping” (St Andrews Participant). In the Helmsdale event there was some discussion about how football is an important part of youth culture in the area, particularly in relation to the inter-community links created by playing other teams in the area. This highlights how sport and culture often go hand-in-hand and also how sport can contribute to community capital (Twigger-Ross et al, 2014), especially bridging social capital e.g. between a football / sport related ‘community of interest’.

Socialising was another important sub-issue identified within this value cluster (mentioned 22 times across the concentric circle data). Socialising was identified as a sub-code under the SIA ‘community’ category and includes the importance of places and venues where socialising can take place. This sub-issue was particularly prevalent in the Glasgow dialogue (mentioned in 11 concentric circles) where pubs and drinking were frequently discussed forms of socialising during the mapping values exercise: “on the way home from work on a Friday I want a pub so I can nip in for a couple of pints” and “I’ve put down wine, bed, holiday, socialising, friends, gigs […] my wine glass is right in the middle” and “you need shops so you can get your milk and stuff, and your kebabs on the way back home from the pub” (Glasgow Participants).

6.1.8 Culture and community: local identity /cultural heritage/Gaelic

A further value cluster under the SIA ‘culture’ and ‘community’ categories was identified, relating to those valued features of a community that contribute to local identity and cultural heritage. This also incorporates some codes from the SIA categories ‘way of life’ and ‘environment, health and wellbeing’ though the focus is very much on the culture and community aspects of local identity and heritage. The key words used in the concentric circles to describe this value cluster were:

  • Gaelic: Gaelic, native Gaelic language;
  • Local identity: keeping Islay’s character, passion for Islay, representing Islay (at events), retain Islay values and identity, identity / local identity;
  • Cultural heritage: museum, highland games, local charity events (flower show, harbour day etc), culture / traditional culture, heritage, traditional gathering (ploughing match, sheep shearing, sheep dog trials), traditional farming;
  • Names of specific places: Ayr, Edinburgh, Islay, Saligo Bay (Islay), Loch Gorm (Islay); and
  • Honesty / safe environment: safety, security, honesty, healthy environment, freedom.

One of the most noticeable features of this value cluster was its more frequent occurrence at the dialogue events that took place in remote, smaller settlements. It was evidenced particularly strongly in the Islay dialogue where it was mentioned in 39 instances across the concentric circles data (out of 56 instances in total across all six dialogue events). Conversely, this value cluster didn’t come up at all in the Glasgow event (large urban area / non-coastal) and was only mentioned four times in St Andrews and six times in Stranraer (coastal / larger urban areas). The data from the Islay event suggests that local identity, culture and cultural heritage are all important values for the participants: “that’s about the uniqueness of what makes Islay”. The values identified so strongly in the Islay dialogue were evidenced to a lesser degree in Kirkwall, which is also a more remote, smaller settlement. In particular, the notion of honesty / safe environment (part of the SIA ‘way of life’ category) was evidenced strongly in the Kirkwall event (six instances out of 12 instances across all six dialogue events). This was in part linked to Orkney’s separation from the mainland: “safe atmosphere from children – separation from the mainland” (Orkney Participant) but also due to notions of honesty and self-policing: “[the] community polices itself [though it’s] still important to have a police presence” and “freedom, safe community, spaces to escape” (Kirkwall Participants). The issue of local identity also came up (three mentions): “it’s where you live [it’s] good for the soul” (Kirkwall Participant).

6.1.9 Community: friends/being involved/supporting others

A key value cluster that emerged within the SIA “Community” category was that of friends/being involved/supporting others. The essence of this was around social networks or social capital – the bonds of trust and reciprocity between people. Across all the six events there were 85 mentions in this cluster, with the majority (59) in the “friends” theme.

  • Friends: friends, neighbours;
  • Being involved: community spirit, working in the community, talking to others, meeting people, committees; and
  • Supporting others / knowing everyone: friendly community, carer / caring, working together as a community, goodwill, look after less fortunate, provide support, sense of belonging.

A key aspect of importance to many of the participants was “friends”. This was mostly located within the inner circle of the concentric circle showing its value to the participants. Islay and Glasgow had the most mentions with all participants in Glasgow mentioning friends as important. This may reflect city living where people are less likely to be living near family. The friends theme was often linked to the “family” theme and taken as central to what was important to participants. Across the six locations the friends was mentioned most in Glasgow (17) and least in Kirkwall (5) and Helmsdale (6) with St Andrews (9) and Islay and Stranraer with 11 mentions.

This also links to related notions of community around supporting others, knowing everyone in the community and being involved: “I want a safe community and to feel part of something, sense of belonging, sense of sharing. If I needed something I know my neighbour would help me” (Islay Participant).


“this is a good village – there’s community spirit here. I moved here 30 years ago – it’s amazing I’ve noticed that everyone cares here…..60% of people here are retired so you have to look after each other….If you don’t see people about you tend to check-up” (Helmsdale participants)

In Glasgow there was a range in terms of how well people knew each other as well as highlighting that communities can be around interests e.g. work as well as place:

“I don’t know people that live in my close – in a community like that [the hypothetical community on the map] you know everybody”

“I live in a cul-de-sac and I know everybody – I like that, when people are away you check on their houses”

“I have an important community around my work” (Glasgow participants)

Across the locations, Islay had the most mentions (10) in terms of both supporting others and being involved, Helmsdale and Kirkwall came in with 6 each. Interestingly the larger locations Stranraer, Glasgow, and St Andrews all had only 2 mentions for these themes.

Many of the values / features identified as being important in this theme cannot readily be mapped out identified physically within a geographical location. This is in distinct contrast to the theme on social and cultural life for example which often relates to the key physical assets where social / cultural events and activities take place (e.g. pubs, cinemas, bars, cafes etc). In essence this cluster is about networks and relationships within the local area that combine as community capital (TwiggerRoss et al, 2014) / social capital (Woolcock and Naryan, 2000). In particular, social / community capital is often described as the “glue” that binds communities together and in this case helps to give an overall sense of identity and culture.

6.1.10 Environment: connection to nature/landscape/views

This value cluster has a distinct focus on the natural environment component of Vanclay’s (2002) SIA categories in contrast to the preceding clusters which are much more about various aspects of social value (community, culture, way of life etc). Within its focus on the natural environment, this theme considers the natural environment’s role contributing to health and wellbeing (use values) but also includes some consideration of the importance of the natural environment / biodiversity for its own sake (intrinsic values). The key words used in the concentric circles to describe this value theme were:

  • Connection to nature: visiting beaches and hills, being outdoors, garden / garden wildlife, experiencing nature with children, sea – real physical connection to nature;
  • Environment, landscape, weather: countryside / natural spaces, environment, sun / weather / summer, fresh air, outdoors, unspoiled scenery, the woods, nature / wildlife, low pollution, access, wilderness, landscape / seascape;
  • Fishing: fishing / all types of fishing / sea angling;
  • Birds: bird watching;
  • Sea mammals: whales, dolphins, porpoises;
  • Sea, coast, beaches: living near / being next to the sea / beach, shore, beaches, sea and river, sand dunes;
  • Views: scenes, views, scenic, landscape / seascape, visual impact;
  • Walks: walking / walks, walks to keep fit, long walks with son, walking around town, walking the dog, hill walks, walking in beautiful places / country walks;
  • Clean environment: clean / cleanliness, pollution free, litter, clean beaches / environment; and
  • Peace and quiet: quiet areas to relax, peaceful living, calm, not stressed.

Similarly to the cluster related to local identity and cultural heritage, this cluster on connections to nature / use of the natural environment occurred more frequently in concentric circle data from dialogue events that took place in remote, smaller settlements, suggesting that participants in these locations are somehow more aware of their natural environment and the role it plays in their daily lives: “landscape is important to me – the sea and the beaches” (Islay Participant); “coastline – it’s all about the coastline, clear space for people to walk” (Kirkwall Participant); and “I like going along the beach, the peace and quiet” (Helmsdale Participant). This ties in closely with policy and literature on the subject of peoples’ relationships with biodiversity / natural capital / land use / ecosystem services. For example, the Scottish Government’s own Land Use Strategy (Scottish Government, 2011) includes a specific objective on connecting urban communities with the land as well as a principle on “…broaden[ing] our understanding of the links between land use and daily living” and Guerry et al (2015) highlight how the ever more urban nature of society reduces our collective understanding of natural capital’s vital role sustaining human wellbeing.

Despite this, during the mapping values exercise participants from the dialogues held in more urban / larger settlements were quick to highlight the value and importance of natural environment features: “I’m fond of the worms and the great ground [land] – leaving things as they are” and “you want to leave the sea as it is – natural” (St Andrews Participants). This perhaps suggests that although connections to nature / the natural environment aren’t critical values for these participants (to the extent that they were considered within their concentric circles), they are still important aspects in a more abstract sense relating to their existence or option value – i.e. the importance of knowing that something (e.g. an attractive coastal landscape) exists and that it would be available for use if required / desired.

Within the various codes grouped under this cluster, ‘environment, landscape, weather’ occurred most frequently across the concentric circle data from all dialogue events (50 instances). Many of the values related to this code are captured in the discussion above. Other codes that were mentioned more frequently were ‘sea, coastline, beaches (13 instances) and ‘clean environment’ which is covered within the SIA ‘way of life’ category (12 instances). Within the data there is a degree of overlap between ‘environment, landscape, weather’ and ‘sea, coastline, beaches’ given that the latter is, in effect, a sub-set of the former in coastal settings: “I put a wee greeny landscape one which I thought was the beach” (Glasgow Participant). The notion of a ‘clean environment’ often encompassed aspects relating to problems: “so many beaches are polluted” and “litter is a big thing in St Andrews and it has been for years” (St Andrews Participants) as well as descriptions of what a clean environment might be / look like: “a clean environment – a pollution free place” (Glasgow Participant) and “I want to keep the sea clean and free of pollution” (Stranraer Participant).

Some codes were mentioned less frequently and were more focussed on specific locations. ‘Fishing’ received nine mentions, most of which were in Helmsdale which has a strong fishing heritage: “obviously when I first come here we had double the [fishing] boats, we used to have three, now we don’t even have one” (Helmsdale Participant). The codes ‘birds’ and ‘sea mammals’ were evidenced very infrequently in the concentric circles data (two and one mentions respectively) and only at the Kirkwall event: “whales, dolphins, porpoises” (Kirkwall Participant). However during the mapping values exercise, these aspects of the natural environment were mentioned in the St Andrews and Helmsdale events, despite not being included as personal values in the ‘what is important to you’ / concentric circles exercise: “there’s whales around the top and dolphins” (St Andrews Participant).

6.1.11 Political/ decision-making systems

‘Political/ decision-making systems’ is a stand-alone SIA category from Vanclay’s (2002) framework and we use that title for this value cluster. Linked to it was the theme of “equality” from within the Fears and Aspirations category as that related to the themes here. It received some attention during the concentric circles exercise within four (of six) dialogues but with only 14 mentions overall it did not seem to be a core category within the value mapping. However, it was a consistent theme through the scenarios work as reported later in this document. It also has important links with the two related theoretical frameworks considered: linking capital within the social capital framework (e.g. Woolcock and Naryan, 2000) and institutional resilience / capacity within the resilience framework (Cutter et al, 2010; Twigger-Ross et al, 2014). The key words used in the concentric circles to describe this value theme were:

  • Politics;
  • The future of Scotland, self-autonomy;
  • Government, Scottish Government, UK Government;
  • Unnecessary government organisations, waste of resources on officials;
  • Current affairs, world outwith me, being informed;
  • True democracy, community action, changes for the better; and
  • Equality.

The majority of mentions (8) were in the middle circle with 5 in the outer and just one in the inner circle.

6.1.12 Other values

It was felt that a number of the themes could not easily be assimilated to the SIA categories or to resilience capacities. These are:

  • Global values e.g. protecting essential resources, avoiding damaging climate change;
  • National values e.g. national economic development, technological development, skills and capacities; and
  • Equity / fairness / who benefits / distribution of costs and benefits (which is different from the category of ‘equality’ which is included in SIA’s ‘Fears and Aspirations’).

One of the concerns related to this theme was about whether the community or communities nearest to the development – and which would therefore be most affected by any negative impacts – would get any of the benefits. For example, housing for workers and increased economic activity might be developed further away from the local communities, so they would see none of the benefit of the money.

  • Spatial conflicts (e.g. between activities using the same area of the sea); and
  • Community assets or resources and associated rights of communities.

Further work would need to be done to unpack these themes and understand how they shape people’s perceptions of their lives and future change. Some of these come through in the next section which discusses the types of impacts identified on these value clusters.

6.2 Talking about offshore renewables – questions raised by participants during the scenario session

The following two sections look at how dialogue participants thought that the development of offshore renewables might affect the things they value. These conversations were prompted by the consideration of four hypothetical future scenarios for offshore renewables development[26]. Further details of the Round 1 approach and materials are provided in Chapter 5 and Appendices 3 and 4.

The first section examines the questions that participants asked about the scenarios. These vary considerably, from straightforward information-seeking questions to questions that highlight concerns or interests and others that seek to make a point. During the four scenario sessions, participants developed their knowledge and understanding about what offshore renewables development would involve. The questions they asked are an important illustration of the types of issues that participants were interested in finding out more about.

The range and types of issues that participants asked questions are presented in relation to the values categories and themes. As noted, these questions arose from the scenario sessions (see Chapter 5) and where they relate to specific aspects of the scenarios that is noted. What is really interesting about the questions is that it shows how the participants were thinking and talking about the issues, showing the nuances of the conversations and reflecting how people generally engage with these issues when they are provided with time and information to consider them.

6.2.1 Information questions about the offshore development scenarios

Participants were interested to find out more about the generic offshore development scenario which explored potential issues around the various generic components of an offshore energy development (e.g. substation, survey work, cabling etc.). This, the first of four scenario sessions, generated substantially more participant questions than other scenarios despite being generic and not focussed on a specific technology. This was perhaps because it was early on and participants were still feeling fresh and fully engaged but also because participants used the generic scenario to ask technology specific questions.

Many of the questions raised by participants were highly specific, querying certain aspects of the generic scenario or the offshore renewables technologies they were familiar with or had been introduced to via the Marine Scotland presentation in the preceding session. The intention often seemed to be to better understand possible implications for specific things of value (e.g. nature / the marine environment, views, landscapes etc.) Marine Scotland personnel were available to answer questions and address participant concerns as the intention was to focus on general issues. No one representing developers attended any of the dialogue events to put forward this perspective.

Key example question topics and questions include:

Questions about the possible implications of offshore renewables development for nature / the marine environment:

“Would you take into consideration areas where there are a lot of seals? Such as Tentsmuir near here?” (St Andrews Participant)

“If this [the generic development] was to happen would the environment be put back? Would it be something out at sea or would the land look different? When tourists come back, would they come back and see what they can see now?” (Stranraer Participant)

“What would happen to the beaches – would there be more rubbish on the beach?” (Helmsdale Participant)

“[In relation to tidal energy] the downside would be the effect on the marine life then? Fish and mammals.” (St Andrews Participant)

Questions about the possible visual impact of offshore renewables development and potential implications for local views / landscapes / sense of place:

“I’m not good with scales... how far away are things?” (St Andrews Participant)

“How do the offshore cables affect the scenery? When they are being laid?” (St Andrews Participant)

“Does that [the cabling] have to be overhead?” (Islay Participant)

“Would it [the generic development] change the feel of the place?” (Islay Participant)

Questions about possible disruption during construction and potential implications for transport infrastructure / accessibility and key local economies (e.g. tourism):

“Obviously this is a massive upheaval...what is the timeframe?” (St Andrews Participant)

“Would there be traffic jams? The roads as they are currently unsuitable [to facilitate development on this scale]” (St Andrews Participant).

“Would they need extra ferries and are the roads capable of taking the extra traffic and influx of workers / goods?” (Islay Participant)

“What would be the exclusion zone? Would diving be allowed?” (Kirkwall Participant)

There were also questions about specific technical issues in relation to the generic scenario or the offshore renewables technologies. Key examples include:

Questions on the electricity output / economics of the development and the relationship between electricity generation and demand:

“What’s the difference in output – in wind turbine vs tidal energy? And what’s the difference in cost?” (St Andrews Participant)

“Will this power generated power the island?” (Islay Participant)

6.2.2 Questions expressing participants’ feelings towards offshore renewables development

Participants asked a number of questions concerning feelings about changes that might take place as a result of generic or technology specific offshore renewables development. Many of the questions relating to feelings were about a specific aspect of the development or a specific thing of value that might be impacted. Key examples include:

Questions about participants’ feelings (negative) towards the scenarios in relation to the distribution of costs and benefits (note: in essence these are technical questions relating to community benefits, electricity market regulation, procurement / contract law etc. It would have been useful to have a developer perspective here to help scrutinise / tease out participant concerns, beyond the useful input provided by Marine Scotland personnel[27]):

“Will we benefit more if it’s closer inshore or would we regret it?” (St Andrews Participant)

“[In relation to scenario Wind 2] multi-national companies are benefitting – why are we not?” (Helmsdale Participant)

“With them [the renewable energy developers and the construction workers] being so far away and not having a base in Scotland, do they actually care about the town they are affecting?” (Stranraer Participant)

6.2.3 Questions about local jobs/local economy/community sustainability

The issue of local jobs / jobs to keep young people in the area is closely related to many of the issues considered in the sub-sections above, especially the question of ‘community sustainability’ and the resilience categories (or capacities) as per Twigger-Ross et al (2014) that are necessary for sustainable communities. Key examples include:

Questions about problems that local people would face when trying to access new job opportunities / concerns about local people being out-competed (potential links to economic resilience) (note: many of the comments about local jobs were made in the context of the discussion of the two wind scenarios; in the second, job creation and economic development related benefits do not go to the local community or indeed Scotland):

“Why would it [job opportunities] be [go to] workers from outside? The local area would be pushing to get people trained up” (Islay Participant)

“So that means that none of the locals could be guaranteed a job?” (Islay Participant)

Questions about the number and type / quality of jobs for local people as a result of the offshore renewables development and guarantees that jobs would go to the local community (note: see comment against the question topic above):

“Could you safeguard benefit to the local community? I’d want this to be a local benefit more than regional or national” (Islay Participant)

“What jobs will it bring?” (Kirkwall Participant)

“How many local people are still employed, or how did [it / the development] expand the local area?” (Helmsdale Participant)

“What about the jobs we already have? Are they protected?” (Stranraer Participant)

“Would there be more servicing jobs, are there not more things that could get broken / go wrong [with the generation technologies]? More jobs for people in the town so more permanent, ongoing jobs?” (St Andrews Participant)

Questions about if / how training opportunities would be provided to help local people (including / especially young people) to access new offshore renewables related employment opportunities:

“Training – would it make sense to include the facility of training of young people?” (Helmsdale Participant)

“It’s great if people [can] get jobs but what if they don’t have the experience [necessary to secure the job]?” (St Andrews Participant)

Questions about what would happen once the more intensive construction phase is finished and the temporary population has left / concern that the development would lead to short term improvements only and a ‘boom and bust’ scenario (potential links to economic and social resilience):

“If you had an increase in size, would the town be able to cope with this increase? And if it decreases again after say 2 years or so, then would that take us back to where we started?” (Stranraer Participant)

“Could the housing be handled through the housing association so it remained more in keeping with the local area?” (Islay Participant)

6.3 How participants thought offshore renewables might affect things that matter to them

This section looks at what participants said about the way that they thought offshore renewables might impact, positively or negatively, on things they identified as important. In analysing the impacts, we refer to the value categories discussed earlier in this chapter.

Within each theme, how participants talk about potential impacts (positive and negative) on what they value and any differences between locations are discussed. Where relevant, themes are described in relation to the scenarios for the development of offshore renewables in which they came up. The relationships between features of the scenarios (e.g. scale, visibility, type of technology) and impacts on social values are explored in the final section of this chapter.

6.3.1 Impacts on way of life: Family / family life / intergenerational issues

Family and family life were mentioned less frequently in relation to the offshore renewables scenarios than they were when the focus was on social values as such. The key words for the theme also shifted away from family members, family activities and intra-family relationships and support, to focus on the sustainability into the future of families and communities, including linking up with the theme of jobs to keep young people in the community:

  • Family;
  • Local jobs, jobs to keep young people;
  • Honesty, safe environment; and
  • Future family, legacy, future generations,

Often the value of family and family life was talked about in relation to other people rather than in terms of impacts on participants’ own families and family life. It was generally assumed that families were important and valued.

The presence or increase in the numbers of families in a location was highly valued in more remote locations, such as Helmsdale, where participants suggested that their communities might become unsustainable if the number of inhabitants were not increased. One participant described the potential benefit of an increase in the jobs available for local people in the context of an offshore renewables development: “10 jobs for local people are 10 people that wouldn’t need to move away. 10 families would become 20 families” (Helmsdale Participant).

The influx of paid workers, trades people and professionals, with their families was equated with stable communities, in contrast with situations where these people are not accompanied by their families. Single people were not seen as bringing as high a level of economic activity to the area but the main concern that came out across the dialogues, recognising the limitations of the approach[28], was that they would only stay as long as work was available and would not contribute to make the community more sustainable: “I don’t think it’s going to be so much families coming in, it’s maybe just tradesmen” (Glasgow Participant) and “[The people working on offshore renewables projects will do] the same as every other worker that comes to Islay: they come, they work, then get off” (Islay Participant).

The potential for an increase in crime or anti-social behaviour associated with the influx of people from outside the community was discussed. However, only in Kirkwall was the possible impact on people’s way of life and children made explicit. The participant who raised the point referred to his experience in Bray, where there was an influx of workers from outside the community: “I experienced that in Bray; for example, ex-prisoners were used for the workforce – they were regular offenders. This wreaks havoc in a community e.g. being told ‘Don’t go out after 11pm’. Fights among incomers and with locals. Safety of children” (Kirkwall Participant).

None of the participants said that they might have to change the way they look after their children, despite the contrast with the current levels of trust and safety in some of the locations: “People are proud of letting their kids go out in the local community” (Islay Participant).

While the criteria and conditions for ‘good’ family life were not explicitly discussed, some participants did suggest that families would require services and provisions that might need to be considered when planning or developing an offshore renewables project: “Would workers come as families? More clarification needed! Would we need to increase local services?” (Kirkwall Participant) and “If they [people working on offshore renewables projects] brought their families, there would be more for the kids to do – in a village this size you would need a new school” (Helmsdale Participant).

One of the younger participants said that keeping more young people in the area would make the community more lively:

“Most of my age group left school and left the place F: what would happen if they stayed?

P7: It would revitalise, these communities are dying” (Helmsdale Participants).

However, there were participants in all the dialogues who recognised that young people will often want to leave to work in other places. This was seen as less of a problem in larger towns and cities (Stranraer, St Andrews, Glasgow). One participant in St Andrews questioned whether training provided in the context of offshore renewables development should focus on providing skills relevant to the local economy, suggesting that it was more important to think about the national level: “It depends whether you view local as being to your own town or to your country. Are you training children to stay within the local area, or to go somewhere else in Scotland? That’s important when you’re thinking about education” (St Andrews Participant).

Another aspect of family mentioned frequently were the relationships between generations. Again, this was often linked to the sustainability of communities and legacy, that is, the kind of society or environment that people will leave for their children, grandchildren and future generations: “We would like to see the landscape, marine life, sea life protected; minimal environmental damage for future generations (St Andrews Participant). The idea of legacy was sometimes given as the reason for participants’ concerns about the natural environment, local resources, types of employment or the kinds of benefits that might be provided in the context of a development: “If we lost our harbour, it’s a long heritage, our sons of sons went fishing out there” (Islay Participant) and “It’s not going to bother me but I would want something guaranteed for the younger generation” (Helmsdale Participant).

6.3.2 Impacts on way of life: jobs / career / employment

There was a lot of interest from the dialogue participants in the kinds of jobs and employment opportunities that might be opened up by the development of offshore renewables. Each of the scenarios was described in terms of the number of jobs it might create and the likely proportion of jobs that would be based in Scotland. These were referred to as ‘local jobs’ and there was some expectation on the part of many participants that these jobs should go to local people: “It’s more acceptable if the jobs go to local people” (Glasgow Participant).

In the course of each of the dialogue events, participants considered whether and how the kinds of jobs and employment created by offshore renewables development might benefit them. There was an expectation that the jobs would be ‘good’ jobs in the sense of providing job satisfaction and motivation:

“X, if you got a job with one of these, and they asked you to move, would you?“


P2 “[Jobs] create some self-respect: [you] get up in the morning going ‘right!’ rather than do nothing, or get paid next to nothing.“ (Stranraer Participants)

Many participants realised that most of the jobs would require skills and training which local people would need to be helped to develop before they could benefit. For example, in Islay participants suggested a number of measures to ensure that local people would be able to get the jobs created: “Positive discrimination or something to ensure local people benefited” and “Apprenticeships offered on more technical areas where locals could play a role. […] Have local people be part of the process and trained in the project so that they could maintain the development as a long term employee” (Islay Participants). A developer perspective was not available at the dialogue events to confirm (or otherwise) whether these types of opportunity are routinely made available to local communities[29].

Getting training in order to access jobs is both demanding and a risk. In Stranraer one participant commented that training might be provided by the developer but that there would be no guarantee of a job for those who had been trained. A participant in St Andrews questioned whether it would be worth getting training for the kind of short-term job that was likely to be available: “Some young people would be interested in the training, others are going to University and wouldn’t be interested” (St Andrews Participant).

The development of offshore renewables was also seen as potentially having knock on effects on employment, by stimulating local economic development and the expansion of employment in local businesses and services. This kind of business was valued in itself by some participants, because the businesses were seen as more sustainable sources of employment: “It will bring people and industry into the area. You have to bring in the positives otherwise you can’t go forward.” (St Andrews Participant) and “It might make the small businesses more popular. And then they can hand it down to the next generation instead of losing that completely” (St Andrews Participant).

Many participants remained dubious about the employment benefits that offshore renewables developments were likely to provide for local communities: “All I can see coming out of this is a couple of jobs for a few people” (Islay Participant). There was also concern that some existing local jobs might be threatened by offshore development, particularly jobs in the fishing industry, and that these should be protected: “We would want to see nature protected because its natural habitat for animal and marine life, because it generates jobs [fishing, etc.] We would also want to see farm land protected. It creates fresh produce and local job opportunities” (Glasgow Participant). Again, a developer perspective was not available to discuss participants’ concerns[30].

6.3.3 Impacts on way of life: money / cost of living

Money and the cost of living were not brought up very frequently in relation to the potential impacts of the development of offshore renewables. There were 15 mentions of these topics across five of the six locations: they were not mentioned in the Stranraer dialogue. In many cases, participants were unclear whether offshore renewables would have an impact on energy prices and asked for more information about this. Marine Scotland staff were able to provide some insights[31].

For those participants who thought that the development of offshore renewables development might mean cheaper energy for local people, this was considered a ‘potential benefit’. Some participants felt that any offshore renewables development should provide benefits for the community and several times this was framed in terms of reduced prices for energy or money coming in to the community: “Lower / stabilise electricity bills – offer lower tariffs to local people, Someone’s making money that should be shared” (Kirkwall Participant) or “I could put it in capital letters: CHEAPER, RELIABLE ELECTRICITY” (Islay Participant).

Several of the comments on the potential impacts of offshore renewables on local people’s cost of living or money reflect a concern that benefits should be shared, rather than individuals or companies getting a windfall. In Islay, where participants said that current energy provision is unreliable, one participant worried that unscrupulous developers might increase prices in the long term: “Wind farms want a return, after 15 years it becomes an open market – these industries have enjoyed these dividends – how can we make sure these wealthy land or sea bed owning owners do not put up the price? – how can we prevent ourselves being held to ransom after 15 years?” (Islay Participant). A developer perspective was not available to discuss perceptions that this kind of practice might occur and to help participants tease out the issues[32].

Many participants felt that there should be a clear economic benefit for everyone in the community from any development: “I think they [the renewable energy company / developer] should fix the roads and reduce electricity costs for everyone” (Helmsdale Participant). From the perspective of participants in the Glasgow dialogue, the benefits to the immediate locality were linked to wider, long-term benefits: “Because I’m in the town I don’t think it would really impact on me, I’d be thinking about all the benefits, about all the jobs it’s going to create, the more money that’s going to get spent in the shops… I see it as a positive thing, benefitting people in the future” (Glasgow Participant)

6.3.4 Impacts on community: local jobs / local industry / community sustainability

With 165 mentions, ‘Local jobs, jobs to keep young people’ is the code that appears most frequently across the all the scenarios and all locations. A high number of mentions were also recorded for other codes related to local economies: Local industry – 34 mentions; community sustainability – 76 mentions; and Impact on local economy – 80 mentions. The way in which the development of offshore renewables was seen as potentially impacting on local employment and the ability of young people to find work in the local area has been discussed earlier. In this section we focus on:

  • Quality of employment;
  • Skills and training;
  • Who benefits / Local versus national jobs; and
  • Loss of jobs / employment.

The interest expressed by participants in the creation of new jobs was tempered by a concern that these should be the right kinds of jobs. Here the issues raised most often referred to stability of employment; this was related to the interest in seeing jobs created that would enable young people to remain in their local communities. Pay levels and job satisfaction were also mentioned and participants seemed to assume that jobs in this industry would pay well and be motivating. It should be noted that a developer perspective was not available to elucidate on the type and range of job opportunities associated with an offshore renewables development[33].

The construction phase would create a large number of jobs but participants commented that this was not likely to result in a lasting increase in employment and might involve the arrival of large numbers of workers from outside the community who would leave as soon as the work was finished. Sudden changes in the job market are a common cause of concern, as people feel that they are not in control: “I think I would be more worried about what happens when the construction is finished and there’s so many people left without jobs at the end of three years.” (Glasgow participant)

Another factor that participants took into account in evaluating the jobs that would be created was the possibility of local people acquiring transferable skills that would make them better able to get other jobs in the future. Several participants said that they personally would be willing to retrain for a job in the renewables industry. However, they were also conscious that training might give them skills that could not be used locally and might mean they had to move away after the initial work was finished: “But there is not so much benefit in this scenario. Especially if the jobs are not long term and so any training means that they leave. Want jobs to keep people in the town ideally” (Stranraer Participant)

Some participants were sceptical about the practicalities of getting local people trained up in time to do the skilled work required and felt that developers would be more likely to bring in teams of trained and experienced workers from similar projects elsewhere, with no benefit to local workers and the risk of conflict between the incomers and the local community (a developer perspective was not available to scrutinise this issue[34]). Alongside the jobs that might be created, some people mentioned the risk of losing existing jobs, particularly in the fishing industry, if small boats were obliged to change their routes or were excluded from certain areas of the sea. It is interesting to note that participants at the Glasgow dialogue were very interested in the potential impacts on fishing activities and concerned about knock-on effects for the hypothetical community: “I think the impacts on the fishermen would devastate this wee place” (Glasgow Participant).

In Stranraer participants expressed a desire to protect all existing economic activities, perhaps because of the town’s recent experience of losing its ferry service and the jobs associated with that.

Concern about sudden changes in local employment and local economic activity could be exacerbated by a sense of lack of control over the situation. Gradual, incremental change tends to be less feared than rapid or sudden change, which brings with it threats to security and possibly to personal status.

6.3.5 Impacts on community: transport connections/technology connections

The main code examined for participants’ views on the potential impact of offshore renewables was Community: Transport connections, accessibility, driving. Two codes that were added as ‘Emergent themes’ were (1) Technology, broadband, internet and (2) Travel, both of which reflect participants’ interest in being connected to other people and places. This cluster of codes also has links to two themes within the SIA impact category Fears and Aspirations: Freedom and Being too insular. Having access to transport and being able to get to other places was seen as important both for practical reasons (such as getting children to school or being able to rely on the delivery of food and other products) as well as mental health and spiritual wellbeing associated with being able to travel, seeing other places and cultures. In several locations participants said that transport links were vital to give them access to key services such as hospitals and medical care as well as to culture and entertainment (theatres, concerts, university and colleges).

The development of any kind of offshore renewable energy would involve a good deal of transport activity, with the type of transport used depending on the characteristics of the development (distance from the shore, nationality of the company responsible for installing and maintaining the technology, etc). Some participants said that this would mean improving transport and technology connections in the area, to support the increased activity: “There might be opportunities for better local services, helicopter connection to local holidays, brought by the new technologies” (St Andrews Participant) and “We’ll benefit from the jobs, the upgraded roads” (Helmsdale Participant).

Several participants said that if roads, trains, ports or other transport infrastructure were upgraded as part of an offshore renewables development, this would have knock on benefits for the areas, in terms of facilitating business, making it easier to organise or provide social, recreational, sporting and cultural activities etc. However, other participants were concerned that the current state of transport and communications connections was very poor and that if the developer did not take on the responsibility for upgrading it, the development would leave the community with worse connections than before, as the additional activity would mean that existing infrastructure deteriorated more rapidly.

Participants were unclear about what conditions could be imposed on developers: some questioned whether developers could be required to upgrade transport infrastructure while others stated that this should be a basic requirement. A developer perspective / representative was not available at the dialogue events to explain and scrutinise this community benefits issue[35].

6.3.6 Impacts on community: education / shops / housing

Three sub-codes of the SIA ‘Community’ category were examined as a cluster: education / shops / housing. In all locations participants talked about the potential positive impacts of offshore renewables, pointing out that the growth in the local population would lead to an increase in the provision of valued community facilities such as education, local shops and housing. This was sometimes associated with an opinion that development and increase in population are good in themselves: “Benefits to local communities is key. There might be opportunities for education, benefits for local businesses to get connected, cultural diversity to the local area, important in isolated coastal towns, where awareness of the wider world is limited. ” (St Andrews Participant) and “Filling station, broadband, money into the primary school. Schools regenerate.” (Helmsdale Participant)

Some participants shared the view that the growth and increase in services and infrastructure associated with the development of offshore renewables would be positive but wondered whether these benefits would go to the local community or would just be for those directly involved in the new developments: “People building houses: would it be similar for the developers and the substation? Community gain. What’s in it for the community? We might need a new cinema, a new school?” (St Andrews Participant). There was no opportunity for participants to discuss these comments and opinions with a developer[36].

While more participants expressed positive comments about the impact on schools, shops and housing, there were those who felt that the development would be more likely to put a strain on already stretched resources: “[having] more people in [the community] would put strain on health services. Then there’s the schools, we have shared classes at the moment – maybe more people would affect this” (Helmsdale Participant)

A concern raised in a number of locations, sometimes referring to the experience of the development of the North Sea oil industry, was the change in community relations that might result from big differences between the incomes of highly paid people working on offshore renewables and local people whose jobs and incomes would not change. This was seen as possibly leading to tensions between new arrivals and existing residents, for example over access to housing.

The dialogue brought out potential differences between local people: for example, in Islay there was disagreement over whether school teachers would be pleased to see an increase in the numbers of children going to school. Some participants there might be said that knock-on effects of developments occurring in one location for nearby countryside or villages. Increased provision for a bigger population of workers could mean changes to an area beyond the locality where the development is situated: “If more people are coming to live in the town, they might move out to the village.... to avoid the disruption...but there might be more people wanting to move out to the village. The village might expand as there’s more people in the area...My sister lives in Aberdeen and they’ve built houses in the area to accommodate those people working in the oil rigs. If they were building in the would take away the green land and it would become like a big town. At my sister’s, every space is built on – it’s unbelievable.” (Glasgow Participant)

6.3.7 Impacts on community: socialising / parks

Socialising outside the home was mentioned as an important activity by some participants in all the groups. In looking at the potential impacts of offshore renewables, some participants also highlighted ways in which these social activities might be affected: “I would choose to drink elsewhere” (Kirkwall Participant). People might change their activities in order to avoid the people who had come in to work on the developments.

While parks and recreation were mentioned as important facilities for local communities, few of the participants suggested that these might be affected by offshore renewables. Four participants (in Glasgow, St Andrews and Stranraer) said that there might be opportunities to get developers to invest in parks and recreational facilities. One participant in Glasgow was concerned that development of the sea shore might prevent access to beaches. Another thought that an increase in the local population and in the money circulating as a result of the development would boost socialising because more businesses would offer opportunities to socialise, e.g. wine bars. From yet another perspective, a participant in Helmsdale argued that children would have more to do if there were other children around.

These values link with a more general value given to leisure activities including sports and recreation, travel and culture, entertainment and music and way of life, which usually involve some element of socialising. A developer’s viewpoint on these issues was not available[37].

6.3.8 Impacts on culture: local identity / cultural heritage / Gaelic

Impacts on local identity were only mentioned once in each place, and not at all in Stranraer or Glasgow. However, these few mentions revealed a strong sense of identity and an undercurrent of concern about this being changed: “I think that you have to think that St Andrews is not like most coastal towns. Other towns might benefit from this kind of thing, but not St Andrews” (St Andrews Participant) and “So change is OK but also conserving the uniqueness of the place – social networks and relationships” (Islay Participant). This participant is one of the very few people who talk about social and community relationships as being an important value which needs to be protected.

Despite culture and cultural heritage being seen as important by many participants, there was little discussion of how they might be impacted by offshore renewables. There were no mentions of impacts on Gaelic, whose importance was mainly brought up during the dialogue in Islay. However, two participants in Islay mentioned impacts on the local culture and way of life: “[I] wish to protect the way of life, culture. I wish to ensure that the community wouldn’t change for the worse” (Islay Participant). A participant in Kirkwall expressed concern that offshore renewables might affect cultural heritage such as Neolithic sites and argued that developers would have to be sensitive in dealing with that heritage. Impacts (positive and negative) on cultural heritage would be picked up through project Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) as part of the planning / consenting process, however a developer perspective was not available to tease out these issues[38].

The only person who suggested that offshore renewables might have a positive impact on local culture was a participant in St Andrews who talked about the potential benefit for ‘isolated coastal towns’: “Benefits to the local community …Cultural diversity to the local area is important in isolated coastal towns where awareness of the wider world is limited” (St Andrews).

6.3.9 Impacts on environmental values: connection to nature/environment, landscape weather / fishing / birds / sea mammals / sea coastline beaches / views / walks

Across the dialogue locations, participants tended to think of more potential for negative impacts on environmental values such as nature, the landscape and wildlife. Many participants expressed their concerns strongly: “Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty can be affected. That is a blot on the community” (Helmsdale Participant). This view was based on participants’ perception of a local onshore wind energy development. The environment and wildlife were frequently named as things that participants would want to see protected in the context of a development. Some participants said that there would be negative impacts on wildlife while others felt that there was a lack of knowledge on this: “No one knows about the impact [of renewables] on shellfish at the moment – there are impacts on the whales and dolphins” (Helmsdale Participant). In both cases, this was generally seen as a reason for not pressing ahead with projects.

The conflict of opinion between those who find wind turbines as attractive and those who think they are ruining landscapes and views was replicated across the dialogue groups: “The view [should be] protected and the beauty spots.” (Islay Participant); “I have more of an issue with the developments on shore that with what’s in the sea. Not many people here have a sea view.” (St Andrews Participant); and “I like the way the wind turbines look, I think they are calming. They would bring a lot of things to the area which are needed. They would just become part of the landscape” (Glasgow Participant). Marine Scotland personnel were able to provide some clarification on these types of impact at the dialogue events however a specific developer perspective was not available[39].

6.3.10 Impact on political or decision-making systems

A number of participants’ comments indicated that they felt that the benefit of offshore renewables projects would not go to ordinary people but to big companies and people in power or the Government. These beliefs are likely to lead to resentment, loss of trust in those institutions seen as being involved and opposition to the proposed development:

“Resentment builds up, [people] try and put blockers in to the next project.” (Islay Participants)

A few participants were or had been involved in local community organisation or campaigns (in Kirkwall, Helmsdale and Stranraer). While several participants indicated that they would be willing to participate in events like the dialogue where they could learn about issues and contribute their views, there seemed to be little appetite for organised action or campaigning. It was a participant in Glasgow who suggested that local people might mobilise to try to influence developments: “It would be an issue, you might not have much of a say on what’s getting built... I might get stirred up if I’d moved there because it was nice and quiet. I might go to my local MP and find out what’s happening, how long it was going to take, what was going to happen.” (Glasgow Participant)

6.4 Relationship between different offshore renewable scenarios and social values

Reflecting on the way that dialogue participants talked about the offshore renewables scenarios in relation to the things that are important to them suggest that there are characteristics of this kind of development that are likely to be associated with positivenegative impacts. Specifically,

  • Innovation and technological expertise were positively evaluated, especially where these were associated with national development and capacities. This came out strongly in relation to tidal energy developments: most participants felt that there might be multiple benefits to the national economy, to knowledge management and ownership and to national pride and reputation from being at the forefront of this kind of technological development. However, several participants raised questions about the feasibility of developments in this field of technology, pointing out the risks of investment in a less tested technology. This indicates that the people consider a range of different factors when thinking about what might have an effect on their lives and their interests.
  • Characteristics of offshore development scenarios that were felt to be less beneficial to local communities and economies and potentially to be associated with negative impacts were:
  • Speed and suddenness of change o Large scale of development
  • Involvement of foreign companies or institutions that are seen as distant from the local area
  • Lack of transparency about the development
  • Major and sudden changes tend to be associated with greater disruption and therefore impacts on people’s lives. Involvement with what is happening may lead to acceptance of the short-term disruption because of the perceived long-term benefits. However, without this kind of engagement, those affected may oppose the project.
  • The characteristics of the development in terms of its closeness or distance from the community generated contradictory responses, as observed in the dialogues. On the one hand, people said they would prefer developments to take place far away, where they would not be seen or would be less visible and would impinge less on local activities. There were participants who welcomed the second Wind scenario because the development would happen far away and would there not be noticed by the community. On the other hand, participants tended to be more suspicious of activities that were seen as ignoring or not engaging with local communities. One participant in Stranraer talked about feeling that the community had been ‘blanked’ by the second offshore wind scenario because they felt that no effort would be made to involve members of the coastal communities.
  • While the maps allowed participants to talk about the things they value in a spatial context, the location remained generic and this limited the depth of discussion about potential impacts on those values. The number of questions from participants to some extent reflects the need for further, more specific information in order to arrive at assessments of impact.

These observations confirm much existing research on public perception of risks and on the benefits of engagement.

6.5 Improving Government engagement with members of the public on the social impacts of offshore renewables

Participants made a number of suggestions for ways of improving the Government’s engagement with members of the public. The analysis of Round 1 data from session 7 on ‘how would you like to engage with the Scottish Government’ has identified a number of data led (bottom-up) codes. These codes have been clustered into the following main themes: principles / values for engagement; stakeholder typology; barriers to engagement; strategies for engagement; and information. A more detailed analysis of the constituent codes and sub-codes within these themes provides useful insights into how the dialogue participants would improve communications and engagement on the social impacts of offshore renewables developments. Many of these suggestions relate to the planning of offshore renewables (and marine planning more generally) at different scales, including the project level (specific development proposals). It would have been useful to get a developer specific perspective on the helpful issues and suggestions raised though this was not possible within the scope of the project[40].

6.5.1 Principles / values for engagement

This is a substantial theme within the data analysed to date – 13 data mentions (the units of analysis used in the Dedoose software (see Chapter 4) have been coded as ‘principles / values for engagement’. The overriding issue for participants is that the public should be involved in decision making on the development of offshore renewables – the sub-code ‘public to be involved in decisions’ was evidenced in 12 of the 13 data mentions within this theme.

6.5.2 Range and types of stakeholders who should be involved

In seven data mentions the range and type of stakeholders that participants thought should be involved in offshore renewables decision-making were expressed. Four broad categories of stakeholders were identified altogether as outlined below. The number of mentions has been noted, to give some idea of how often this topic came up in the discussion; the use of numbers is not intended to suggest any ranking of stakeholder types.

National level stakeholders (evidenced in three mentions)

“Consultation from Scottish Government, but of the whole country – not just the people affected” (Islay Participant)

Multi-generational stakeholders (evidenced in two mentions)

“How could we persuade people [to participate]? Focus on the different generations” (extract from discussion at the Helmsdale dialogue)

Local communities (evidenced in six mentions)

“[It would be] useful to have people from the community” (Kirkwall Participant)

“A public liaison group – you could have that in every community” (Helmsdale Participant)

Young people (evidenced in six mentions)

“In schools – go into kids in schools” (Stranraer Participant)

“Young people are very motivated and knowledgeable” (Kirkwall Participant)

6.5.3 Barriers to engagement

This theme was evidenced in six data mentions. It describes a range of reasons and barriers that participants felt might discourage members of the public and affected communities from participating in public policy decision-making around offshore renewables via consultation and engagement processes. Five main barriers were identified as outlined below:

Lack of confidence (evidenced in five mentions)

“Most people have views but wouldn’t put their views forward” (Kirkwall Participant)

Concern that Government / Councils / Institutions are only interested in money (two mentions)

“Council is just interested in the money – [the] locals know what is best for the community” (Kirkwall Participant)

Concern that community / individual views will not be listened to (three mentions)

“I can’t see them [the Council] sticking up for us” (Stranraer Participant)

Low participation rates (two mentions)

“How could we persuade people [to participate]?” (Helmsdale Participant)

“How do we pull those young people in [and encourage them to participate]?” (Helmsdale Participant)

Perceptions of public / lay knowledge (three mentions)

“[Lay] people can wrestle with complicated issues – there is an assumption that people can’t cope with information” (Islay Participant)

6.5.4 Strategies for engagement

This is a substantial theme evidenced in 15 mentions. It captures participants’ discussion around the range of different approaches and strategies that might be useful for engaging the public on proposals and decisions about offshore renewables development. One of the most important issues evidenced within this theme was the need for early engagement (14 mentions). Participants discussed how “… If people think they’re being considered from the beginning, they’re more likely to follow” (St Andrews Participant) and also how “they [the local community] would want to know in advance if there will be developments, for example people who might think that there is a job coming along” (Stranraer Participant). The latter of these two points is particularly interesting as it implies that participants would favour early engagement not so that they can challenge or object to a proposal but so that they can be prepared in order to capitalise on any opportunities. There was also an acknowledgment that during the early stages of development the information will be incomplete and less detailed but that this is still useful: “the earlier the communication the least amount of detail that is known or can be given but if it’s held over a longer period of time then more people will know” (Islay Participant).

There was some discussion about how consultation and engagement on proposed offshore renewables developments should utilise democratic processes and involve politicians at various levels – local councillors, Scottish MSPs and UK MPs: “…engaging with your local MP or MSP – these could work as a representative” (Islay Participant). This specific issue reflects consideration of institutional resilience / capacity (Cutter et al, 2010; Twigger-Ross et al, 2014) and linking social capital concepts (Woolcock and Naryan, 2000) whereby looking for support and representation from politicians across various levels of governance reflects the conscious use of different hierarchal network structures that exist beyond the community for the achievement of community ends.

Beyond the more general aspects outlined above, there were a number of specific suggestions for practical engagement strategies that could be adopted in the context of offshore renewables development / decision-making. These were:

Engaging young people / making it accessible for young people (four mentions)

“There should be a meeting that explains things properly so young people understand” (young male participant in Helmsdale)

Community liaison group (five mentions)

“[A] public liaison group – you could have that in every community” (Helmsdale Participant)

Multi-stage engagement (five mentions)

“Engage with the community – presentation should be done as early as possible so they are informed on the issue. Then later, hold something like this public dialogue” (Islay Participant)

Broad engagement beyond communities directly affected

“There should be a national conversation, if Scotland is going to be at the forefront...the nation would get behind it.” (Glasgow Participant)

Public meetings / public dialogue (four mentions)

“…hold something like this public dialogue” (Islay Participant)

“Have a meeting” (Helmsdale Participant)

Social media / word of mouth (one mention)

“…backed up with the use of social media” (Stranraer Participant)

“Word of mouth” (Stranraer Participant)

6.5.5 Information

The final theme identified is concerned with the type of information that participants thought should be provided (e.g. to help members of the public and affected communities understand the nature, scale, issues / impacts etc.) of a proposed offshore renewables development. This was a substantial theme evidenced in 13 mentions. Participants thought that information should be provided on the technologies to be adopted and the nature of the impacts (two mentions): “I think some of the basic information about the technology …[and] impacts about the technology [should be provided]” (Stranraer Participant). There were suggestions that information should be easily accessible (two mentions): “information on development should be easily obtained” (Islay Participant). Also, some participants thought that the information provided should be detailed (two mentions): “…[for] communication as much detail as possible” (Islay Participant).

Box 6.2: Summary of findings

Value clusters

The value categories were interrelated providing a holistic view of what was important to participants.

1. Way of life: Family / family life / intergenerational issues

2. Way of Life: Jobs / career / employment

3. Way of life: Money / cost of living

4. Community: Local jobs / local industry / community sustainability

5. Community: Transport connections / technology connections

6. Community: Education / shops / housing / healthcare

7. Community: Socialising / recreation / parks / leisure

8. Culture: Local identity / cultural heritage/Gaelic

9. Community: Friends / being involved / supporting others

10. Environment: Connection to nature / landscape / views / seascape

11. Political / decision-making systems

Key questions raised by participants

Across the scenario sessions participants showed through their questions how they were considering the different issues around the developments and potential impacts. The main questions related to three areas: Information questions about the offshore development scenarios, questions expressing participants’ feelings towards offshore renewables development and questions about local jobs/local economy/community sustainability.

Key impacts identified

Impacts were examined in relation to the value categories and were discussed in both positive and negative ways.

  • Mixed opinions were expressed about impacts on local jobs and community sustainability. Participants could see the potential for jobs to keep younger people located locally as well as the potential for training for local people which could help revitalise their local areas. However, there was concern about who would actually benefit, where the jobs would go in reality and considerable scepticism as to whether their local communities would benefit.
  • In relation to impacts on connections and services (Categories 6 and 5), the potential for growth in communities and the associated expansion of services was recognised, but many comments emphasised that this should be proportionate to the existing size of place. Opportunities for improved connectivity (transport) were welcomed but participants questioned how much influence could be put on developers to carry out any upgrades and concern was expressed that existing infrastructure could deteriorate further.
  • Political/decision making, fairness (Category 11) was a key issue that was raised, with discussion around power and politics, who would really benefit: local people or developers.
  • Impacts on wildlife (category 10) were mainly considered to be negative or insufficiently understood.

There was less direct discussion around impacts on families and networks (categories 1 and 9) but participants considered the issues associated with the influx of workers. Increasing numbers of families was seen as a positive but concern was expressed about the potential impact of the arrival of large numbers of single people.

Key questions raised by participants

Across the scenario sessions participants showed through their questions how they were considering the different issues around the developments and potential impacts. The main questions related to three areas: Information questions about the offshore development scenarios, questions expressing participants’ feelings towards offshore renewables development and questions about local jobs/local economy/community sustainability.

Key reflections on the relationship between characteristics of offshore renewables and values expressed

Innovation and technological expertise were positively evaluated, especially where these were associated with national development and capacities. Characteristics of offshore development scenarios that were felt to be less beneficial to local communities and economies and potentially to be associated with negative impacts were: Speed and suddenness of change; Large scale of development; Involvement of foreign companies or institutions that are seen as distant from the local area; Lack of transparency about the development.

Key aspects of engagement approaches

Participants identified the following issue with respect to engagement: principles/values, range and types of stakeholders, barriers to engagement, strategies for engagement together with the information they felt would be needed to engage effectively.



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