Community benefits schemes for onshore wind projects in the United Kingdom Evaluating communities’ perceptions of procedural justice
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Community benefits schemes (CBS) are an essential part of the United Kingdom (UK) governmental policy which aims to stimulate public support for onshore wind projects, which allow communities to share in the economics benefits associated with these. However, the development and implementation of CBS by project developers has been criticised, with claims of bribery mooted by scholars and communities alike. Accordingly, this research took a procedural justice perspective and argued that should the development and implementation of CBS pertain more closely to procedural justice ideals then communities would be more likely to perceive the development and implementation of CBS as fair, thus resulting in the greater public acceptancy of onshore wind projects. Using conditions from Leventhal and Thibaut and Walker, procedural justice was conceptualised and an analytical framework to evaluate the levels of perceived procedural justice proliferated by CBS was designed. The research utilised interviews with, and surveys completed by representatives of communities, to come to the understanding that CBS can be successful in stimulating public support for onshore wind projects. However, an alarming paradox was discovered. On the one hand, the community representatives reported no evidence of bribery; conversely, a number of them admitted that the CBS had exerted a significant impact on community members’ opinions regarding the onshore wind projects. Therefore, it is suggested that the very motivations behind CBS can be considered deviant, this despite many communities not experiencing them in this way. Accordingly, it is suggested that Renewable UK and the UK Government take the necessary actions to formalise CBS within UK law, thus empowering communities. Furthermore, it is also advised that CBS be marketed in such a way that communities are clear that payments are compensation for the negative effects of onshore wind projects or other types of developments which may in the future also utilise CBS.