Perceptions of Justice and Equity in Energy Infrastructure

Electronic versions


  • Kieron Iveson

    Research areas

  • PhD, Bangor Business School


In response to the twin challenges of climate change and energy security, the UK government’s energy strategy includes new nuclear power stations. Large scale centralised generation of this type requires transmission infrastructure to carry electricity from where it is generated to where it is needed. This transmission infrastructure, specifically High Voltage Overhead Transmission Lines (HVOTLs), has met with significant community opposition, even where a new nuclear power station appears to be generally accepted. Acceptance of one major development and rejection of another suggests something other than NIMBYism.
This research seeks to unpick perceptions of new electricity transmission infrastructure within the context of whole energy system change. The research comprises a case study of Anglesey, the location of the Wylfa Newydd nuclear power station development and associated transmission infrastructure. The research examines stakeholder perceptions of the planning of this new transmission infrastructure and the consultation which forms a part of that process. The research extends common notions of energy justice to include fairness in siting infrastructure and is informed by Lukes’ Radical View of Power and Rawls’ Justice as Fairness.
Twenty two in depth semi-structured interviews were carried out with a range of stakeholders including community members, political representatives and electricity industry representatives.
From the interviews the following themes were identified: trust; NIMBYism; sense of place; remember Tryweryn; the white elephant in the room; it’s all about the jobs; consultation, representation and democracy; together but separate / separate but together; comparison, conflation and confusion.
The fairness of the process by which transmission infrastructure is determined is called into question. Strategic decisions are made upstream of any community engagement. National Grid are viewed as a force from outside imposing their preferred solution. Power for decision making rests firmly outside the community which hosts the infrastructure and stakeholders report that they have little influence on the outcome of the development. While development may be seen as fair or just on a utilitarian basis and on a wider geographical scale, it falls short of more recent formulations of justice. Earlier deliberative engagement with community members may alleviate dissent and contribute to fairer and more just development.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date2018