Exploring the landscape of wind farm developments: local area characteristics and planning process outcomes in rural England

Dan Van Der Horst (Corresponding Author), David Toke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

74 Citations (Scopus)


Despite broad public support for wind energy in principle, windfarm developments are often met with local opposition. There is theoretical, case-based and anecdotal evidence to suggest that ‘the local’ is relevant for planning process outcomes, but the nature and extent of this relevance is not so clear. We embark on an initial exploration of local factors that, on aggregate, may be of relevance to planning outcomes of proposed windfarms in rural England. Applying a broad scanning approach we use an existing small area GIS dataset of 117 variables related to education, health, demography, employment and housing. We identify a number of strong associations, and discuss to what extent these make sense in the light of existing literature on environmental equity and social capital, or throw up questions for further study. Notwithstanding the methodological caveats of this explorative study, and the scope for more in-depth analysis, our findings suggests that beyond the myriad of individual planning cases, the emerging landscape of wind energy development in England is markedly uneven, and sometimes inequitable. Evidence of the latter emerges notably through the strong significance of local democratic deficit (i.e. low voter turn-out) as a predictor of a ‘positive’ planning outcome for windfarms and the further strengthening of predictive associations at the appeal stage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-221
Number of pages8
JournalLand Use Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010



  • social capital
  • planning process
  • wind farms
  • environmental equity
  • democratic deficit

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