There is an increasing interest in the use of IT-based tools to encourage public participation in environmental decision making. Typically, this has involved the development of (predominantly prototype) systems applied in workshop scenarios with those stakeholders with an immediate interest in the planning issue in hand. Increasingly, however, the Internet is being used to explore the use of online visualisation and mapping tools, with evaluation often taking the form of feedback questionnaires that are used to refine such techniques. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate how innovative visualisation techniques can enhance existing methods of information provision and public participation in a renewable energy setting. Specifically, we are concerned with examining participant opinions on the use of such tools to promote participation in relation to a proposed wind farm in South Wales. Our findings suggest that survey participants are generally optimistic regarding the potential for such software and overall give strong support for the development and implementation of these technologies in a real-world planning context. However, we suggest that such techniques need to be carefully tailored to the types of public engagement being sought in order to link particular tasks to specific technology types.
- public participation
- wind farm planning
- IT-based tools
- public acceptance
- environmental decision making