Discourse, power, and energy conflicts: understanding Welsh renewable energy planning policy
The Welsh Assembly updated their planning policy for renewables in the form of Technical Advice Note 8 (TAN 8) on renewable energy in 2005. The policy-making process was in line with the Assembly’s commitment to participative and stakeholder policy-led development. I explore the policy-making process through a Foucauldian understanding of power, discourses, and policy rationalities, identifing four primary rationalities within the TAN 8 policy: spatial planning, energy targets, reliance on large-scale wind power, and the rationale that the traditional planning paradigm can resolve deep-seated conflicts over renewable energy. I explore how these rationalities emerged and were reinforced through the powerful discourse coalitions that emerged within the TAN 8 stakeholder group. As a result, I suggest that ‘consensus’ should not necessarily be the aim of participative policy making and that the participatory process should not be relied upon to deliver ‘rational’ planning policies, leading to sustainable development. Instead, we must embrace the notion of pluralism with an understanding of the discursive powers at work within the policy-making process.
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