Involving Communities in Deliberation : A Study of Three Citizens’ Juries on Onshore Wind Farms in Scotland

Roberts, Jennifer and Escobar, Oliver (2015) Involving Communities in Deliberation : A Study of Three Citizens’ Juries on Onshore Wind Farms in Scotland. [Report]

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Abstract

This is one the most comprehensive studies of citizens' juries conducted to date. The unique project entailed, for the first time, three citizens' juries addressing the same task in different locations, and the research combined five sources of data to provide an in-depth account of the deliberative process and its outcomes. The deliberative approach used in citizens' juries gives voice to the diversity of views that often exists around controversial policy areas. Deliberative processes are particularly valuable because rather than simply expressing their views, participants are encouraged to develop, scrutinise, justify and re-examine those views in light of evidence and arguments presented by others. As such, deliberative engagement is particularly suitable for topics characterised by complexity, conflicting views and values, competing interests, and contested evidence. Scottish Planning Policy emphasises the importance of public engagement, requiring that it should be early, meaningful and proportionate. However, to date, deliberative engagement has not been actively used to inform planning policy or decisions in Scotland. This project focussed on onshore wind farm development, and was designed to offer insight into key dynamics in citizen participation and public deliberation – rather than to inform decision-making. This report provides the policy and practice community with practical advice about organising and facilitating deliberative public engagement in support of decision-making. It explores how citizens' knowledge and perspectives evolve during the process. It presents a picture of what the jurors decided matters most to them about wind farm development. It analyses whether three juries, addressing the same topic under similar conditions, generate different outcomes. And it explores the potential role of citizens' juries in and decision-making.