(Re) Constructing landscape: the impacts of wind farms in local communities
Maria João Nunes
(ICS Institute of Social Sciences)
Elisabete Figueiredo (University of Aveiro)
Ana Delicado (Lisbon University)
Paper short abstract:
In Portugal, there are nearly two hundred fifty wind farms spread in national territory mostly located in rural areas. The proliferation of wind farms has impacts on local communities especially concerning the perceptions about their own heritage and landscape
Paper long abstract:
In Portugal, wind energy represents almost half of the renewable energy produced in the country. There are nearly two hundred fifty wind farms spread in national territory, mostly located in the north and center of the country, in rural areas. The proliferation of wind farms has impacts on local communities, not just on daily life, or on the economic and social fabric, but especially concerning the perceptions about their own heritage and landscape. How does the presence of these "machines in the garden" influence these perceptions? And why does it seem to activate (Prats 1997) the notion of local heritage and belonging within the community? This paper aims to illustrate and discuss these (re) constructions of landscape in the rural space. It is based on two case studies, one in the Serra de Alvaiázere and the other in Serra da Freita; both part of the Natura 2000 Network in Portugal. We characterize the representations concerning the social perception of local transformations caused by the wind farm implementation in both places.
We use documentary analysis from the public consultation reports of Environmental Impact Assessments, as well as all the news published before, during and after the implementation process in local newspapers, and semi-structured interviews with members of the local communities and other actors involved in the process. This paper is part of a research project titled "Social-technical consensus and controversies regarding renewable energies" funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology.
Ubiquitous energy: everyday energy rhythms, practices and experiences