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'You don't do a chemistry experiment in your best china': Symbolic interpretations of place and technology in a wave energy case

By Carly McLachlan


In-depth interviews were combined with analysis of a wide range of secondary data to assess the formation of opposition and support in the case of the Wave Hub in Cornwall, UK. It is argued that stakeholder responses to renewable energy developments are, in part, related to interpretations of what both the technology and the location or 'place' are seen to represent or symbolise. There is a need to move beyond knowledge deficit and NIMBY models if these issues are to be explored. Place was interpreted at different scales and was seen as: economically vulnerable, as having a sense of local ownership, as a resource and as nature. Symbolic interpretations of the technology related to the contested environmental status and significance of electricity produced, as well as it being seen as a project for local people, commercial, experimental, pioneering, industrial and at one with Mother Nature. These interpretations gave rise to various symbolic logics of opposition and support, some of which are outlined. Although a case study of a wave energy development, many of the issues discussed relate to renewable energy developments more widely. Therefore the findings are discussed in relation to their implications for renewable energy developers and UK energy strategy.Wave energy Siting controversy Symbolism

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