How do people feel about wind farms when they are given an opportunity to learn more about the topic and consider and discuss it as part of a group?

This unique research project, the most comprehensive of its kind and a world first, asked three groups of people (citizens’ juries) to come up with criteria for decision making about onshore wind farms in Scotland. Despite the diversity of views in the groups, all three juries managed to develop and agree a list of principles, showing that people from very different backgrounds and with varying perspectives can work together through difficult issues and come up with solutions.

Scottish Planning Policy emphasises the importance of public engagement, requiring that it should be early, meaningful and proportionate. This project’s focus was to research public engagement and the potential for use of citizens juries in the decision making process.

Due to its cross-disciplinary nature and the connection with the climate change and participation agendas, the project was owned by CXC, the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI) and the researchers themselves, without a specific policy customer. A multi-disciplinary research team ran citizens’ juries over two days each in three locations across Scotland with varying proximity to built and planned wind farms.

The ambitious research design broke new ground, had clear policy relevance and a link to the participation agenda in government. As such the project delivered transferrable lessons for any policy area.

“Involving people and communities in decision-making leads to better results, more responsive services and gives communities the chance to have a say on how ideas are delivered. This exciting project offers valuable lessons which will help our efforts to boost participation in local democracy and improve community engagement.”

Marco Biagi MSP, Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment, address to launch event for Citizens Juries report, May 2015