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What is Wrong with Nimbys? Renewable Energy, Landscape Impacts and Incommensurable Values

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Local opposition to infrastructure projects that implement renewable energy (RE), such as wind farms, is often strong even if state-wide support for RE is strikingly high. The slogan 'Not In My Backyard' (NIMBY) has become synonymous for this kind of protest. This paper revisits the question of what might be wrong with those who are NIMBYs about RE projects, and how best to address them. I will argue that local opponents to wind farm (and other RE) developments do not necessarily fail to contribute their fair share to producing a desirable public good (clean energy). In fact, with landscape concerns being at the heart of much protest, the question of fair burden distribution becomes sidelined: landscape impacts cannot be distributed nor compensated for. Protests may be attempts to express a true conflict of (incommensurable) values. Understanding them as such will help us better address NIMBY concerns and overcome such opposition through ensuring procedural justice.
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Keywords: NIMBY; Renewable energy; climate change; landscape values; non-standard accounts of rationality; value incommensurability

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2017

More about this publication?
  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has a Journal Impact Factor (2019) of 2.158. 5 Year Impact Factor: 2.047.
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