4.5 Socio-cultural factors versus Place based factors
Another key question is how socio-cultural factors compare to place based factors in the extent of their impacts upon the social acceptance of renewable energy infrastructure. Subsections 4.2, 4.3 and 4.4 all concern socio-demographic factors, their findings are pooled here to facilitate comparison against place based factors. The key place based factors from previous research, known to impact the social acceptance of renewable energy, are distance, saturation, and place attachment (Devine-Wright et al, 2017). Questions 10, 11 and 12 assessed these factors.
Question 10 asked respondents ‘To what extent are you attached to Gloucester as a place?’. 127 participants responded. The results of question 10, mapped onto question 9, assessing attitudes towards Javelin Park, are shown below (Figure 4.7)
From this data, clearly most respondents were very attached to Gloucester, being expected due to the sampling frame. Of those strongly for Javelin Park, 94% were either very attached or attached to Gloucester. Of those strongly against Javelin Park, 28.57% were very unattached. A Spearman’s rank test (table 4.16) showed a statistically significant relationship between question 9 and 10 responses. This indicates place attachment (assessed via question 10) has a significant impact upon question 9 response (Javelin Park acceptance). Place attachment therefore is a significant factor impacting social acceptance of Javelin Park, supporting previous research from Devine-Wright (2014). We must however, be cautious drawing conclusions from correlational findings as they do not implicate cause and effect.
Question 11 asked, ‘To what extent do you think your distance from Javelin Park impacts your views?’ 121 participants responded. The results of question 11, mapped onto question 9, are shown below (Figure 4.8).
From this data, it is clear most residents believed their distance from the development impacted their views. Of those strongly or moderately against Javelin Park, 87.5% claimed distance from the project was influential to a large or moderate extent. 69.24% of those strongly for Javelin Park responded that distance was a concern to no or little extent. A Spearman’s rank test (table 4.17 below) showed a statistically significant relationship between responses to questions 11 and 9. This indicated that distance (assessed by question 11) had a significant impact upon responses to question 9 (Javelin Park acceptance). Distance is therefore a significant factor impacting social acceptance of Javelin Park, supporting previous research from Jones and Eiser (2010), caution must be taken however when dealing with these correlational findings alone, particularly given the self-reported nature of the effects of distance upon social acceptance. However, correlations can be compared to indicate the comparative significance of each place based factor.
Question 12 asked respondents ‘To what extent do you feel Gloucester is already saturated with negative projects?’.117 participants responded. This aimed to closely assess perceptions of environmental justice alongside the impact of an existing saturation of negative developments. Results of question 12, mapped onto question 9, are shown below (Figure 4.9).
From this data, it is clear most residents did not believe that a perceived existing saturation of negative developments impacted their views of Javelin Park. Of those ‘strongly for’ Javelin Park, 87.06% claimed saturation influenced their views to little or no extent. Of those ‘strongly against’ the facility, 50% stated that saturation impacted their views to a moderate or large extent. This indicates saturation is a factor motivating moderate and strong opposition against Javelin Park. A Spearman’s rank test (table 4.18) showed a statistically significant relationship between responses to question 12 and 9. This indicates that a perceived saturation of existing negative developments in the local area (assessed by question 12) has a significant impact upon responses to question 9 (Javelin Park acceptance). Saturation therefore has a significant impact upon the social acceptance of Javelin Park, supporting previous research from Anguelovski (2016). Caution again must be taken in drawing cause and effect, due to the correlational nature of these statistical findings, and due to the potentially differing interpretations of this question which was invented ad-hoc to tap into such perceptions.
It is clear from the above tests, that statistically significant relationships between the factors of distance, saturation, and place attachment, and their impact upon the social acceptance of Javelin Park exist. This emphasises the importance of place-based factors, put forward by the research of Devine-Wright et al. (2017) and others.
4.5.1 Comparison of Place-based factors and Socio-Demographic Factors
Clearly all socio-demographic variables tested have significantly impacted the social acceptance of renewable energy more widely and the Javelin Park case study. It is also clear that all place based factors tested have a significant relationship with social acceptance of Javelin Park.
Whilst traditional comparative analysis of this type would utilise regression analysis to determine which independent variable is most influential upon the dependent variable (social acceptance level), this dissertation is unable to utilise this method, as its data was collected in an ordinal format, incompatible with the interval or continuous data types needed for regression analysis. As a result, this dissertation will compare the most statistically significant place based factor (place attachment) to the most statistically significant socio-demographic factor (age). These factors were determined as the most statistically significant in their respective categories due to the confidence levels of their results.
For this analysis, formats facilitating comparison of age groups to levels of place attachment must be created. Resultantly the place attachment variable has been split into two groups, ‘attached’ containing those who were attached or very attached to Gloucester, and ‘unattached’ containing those who were neither attached or unattached, unattached, and very unattached.
Two Chi square tests for independence, with accompanying Phi and Cramers V tests for association, were conducted on the responses from question 9 (assessing attitudes towards Javelin Park). One set of tests used the age variable, utilising two nominal categories, ’40 years and under’, and ‘over 40 years’. The second test utilised the place attachment variable, also utilising two nominal categories, ‘attached’ and ‘unattached’. The results for these tests can be seen below in tables 4.19-4.22.
The above statistical tests are conclusive. Place attachment was found to not be significantly associated with responses for Question 9 by the Chi2 test (only significant to 0.155 level). Place attachment was also found to not be associated at a statistically significant level to the variable ‘question 9 responses’ by both the Phi and Cramers V tests, meaning place attachment does not associate with question 9 responses (Javelin Park acceptance) at any statistically significant level.
In contrast age was found to be associated with responses for question 9 (Javelin Park acceptance) at a statistically significant level, with the Chi2 test for independence concluding association was significant to a 99.9% confidence level. Furthermore, age was also found to be associated to a statistically significant level to question 9 responses by both the Phi and Cramer’s V tests for association. Both tests being significant to over a 99.9% confidence level.
This strongly suggests that age is a more prominent factor impacting the social acceptance of Javelin Park than place attachment, therefore suggesting that socio-demographic factors, including age, annual income, and education level, are of greater impact upon the social acceptance of Javelin Park than place based factors.