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Revisiting the 'social gap': public opinion and relations of power in the local politics of wind energy

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Derek Bell, Professor Tim Gray



Our widely cited 2005 explanatory framework for considering public responses to wind farm developments distinguished two gaps: a ‘social gap’ between the high support for wind energy reported in surveys and the low success rate for wind farm applications; and an ‘individual gap’ whereby an individual supports wind energy in general but opposes a local wind farm (NIMBYism). The popular assumption that NIMBYism was the only explanation for the ‘social gap’ was contested. Instead, three explanations of the social gap were provided – democratic deficit, qualified support, and NIMBYism – and a range of different policy responses was suggested. This analysis is re-visited in order to take account of the theoretical and empirical developments since its publication. The original explanatory framework is expanded and revised and new conclusions are drawn about the likely causes of the ‘social gap’.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bell D, Gray T, Haggett C, Swarfield J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Environmental Politics

Year: 2013

Volume: 22

Issue: 1

Pages: 115-135

Print publication date: 13/02/2013

Date deposited: 04/10/2013

ISSN (print): 0964-4016

ISSN (electronic): 1743-8934

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/09644016.2013.755793

Notes: Special Issue: Coming of Age? Environmental Politics at 21


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