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Environmental Values

What is Wrong with Nimbys? Renewable Energy, Landscape Impacts and Incommensurable Values

Anne Schwenkenbecher

Environmental Values 26 (2017): 711-731. doi: 10.3197/096327117X15046905490353

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Local opposition to infrastructure projects that implement renewable energy (RE), such as wind farms, is often strong even if state-wide support for RE is strikingly high. The slogan 'Not In My Backyard' (NIMBY) has become synonymous for this kind of protest. This paper revisits the question of what might be wrong with those who are NIMBYs about RE projects, and how best to address them. I will argue that local opponents to wind farm (and other RE) developments do not necessarily fail to contribute their fair share to producing a desirable public good (clean energy). In fact, with landscape concerns being at the heart of much protest, the question of fair burden distribution becomes sidelined: landscape impacts cannot be distributed nor compensated for. Protests may be attempts to express a true conflict of (incommensurable) values. Understanding them as such will help us better address NIMBY concerns and overcome such opposition through ensuring procedural justice.


Renewable energy, landscape values, non-standard accounts of rationality, NIMBY, climate change, value incommensurability

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Editorial: Reversing Environmental Degradation: Justice, Fairness, Responsibility and Meaning. Simon Hailwood

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