Investigating the role of public participation in wind energy project development in Ontario
thesisposted on 2021-05-22, 11:28 authored by Anahita Asadolahniajami
the past several decades, the scope of decision-making in the public domain has changed from a focus on unilateral regulatory verdicts to a more comprehensive process that engages all stakeholders. Consequently, there has been a distinct increase in public participation in the environmental decision-making process. While the potential benefits of public engagement are substantial in terms of identifying synergies between public and industry stakeholders that encourage project development, this participation does not come without its challenges. To meet global energy demands and fulfill ambitious targets for greenhouse gas reduction, renewable energy has received increased attention as a feasible alternative to conventional sources of energy. However, current literature on renewable energy, particularly on wind power, highlights potential social barriers to renewable energy investment. This study investigates the role of public participation by reviewing two case studies of the Ontario wind power generation market to identify the facilitators and constrainers that affected public input into wind project development in Ontario and recommends a participatory framework in the hope of improving public engagement in the wind project development decision-making process. The recommended framework in this research requires all stakeholders to reconsider their current roles in the decision-making process. The public should engage in project planning and monitor the decision-making processes to ensure that their concerns have been addressed. Developers should address public concerns through a consensus building process initiated early in their planning process. Federal and provincial governments have to reclaim their role of ongoing leadership and provide better criteria for implementation and evaluation of the public participation processes. Finally, the process requires a third party who is not only an intermediary, but also plays the role of a knowledge-broker to connect with stakeholders, share and exchange knowledge, and work on overcoming barriers. The knowledge-broker helps to fulfill the main requirement of the collaborative decision-making, which is effective communication.