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Question 9 assessed social acceptance of
Javelin Park, and is shown below (Figure 4.4). 44.05% of participants earning
£30,000 or less were strongly in favour of the incinerator, versus 34% earning
over £30,000. 46% of higher earners were moderately or strongly against,
compared to 11.91% earning under £30,000. Those on a lower annual income
appeared therefore to be more socially accepting of Javelin Park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Independent sample
Mann-Whitney U tests were conducted on responses from both questions 6 and 9
(table 4.7). They revealed a significant difference in the distribution of
responses between the two income groups in relation to both the acceptance of
general renewable energy infrastructure, and the Javelin Park case study. We can conclude therefore, that
annual income has a statistically significant impact upon social acceptance
towards both renewable energy infrastructure and the Javelin Park facility.

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Supporting contextual evidence for the impact of
annual income upon social acceptance emerged from questions 13, 18 and 19.
Respondents earning £30,000 or less repeatedly commented upon cost savings to
be created by Javelin Park, calling it “money saving” and a “creator of jobs
benefitting the economy”. Higher earners were more negative, stating “Half a
billion is a joke” and that “the programme wastes my taxes”. These open-ended
excerpts serve as auxiliary supporting evidence to the statistical findings
above, regarding the impact of annual income upon the social acceptance of
renewable energy infrastructure. It must be noted however, that age may impact
an individual’s income and therefore be a confounding variable in these
findings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.3.1: Polarisation
of responses for annual income

Interestingly, question 9 responses were highly
polarised in the highest and lowest income groups, indicating strong attitudes.
Whilst data used for statistical analysis was classified into two independent
income groups, it was initially collected using an ordinal scale of pay
brackets. The 33 participants earning £0-15,000 predominantly (72.73%)
responded at extreme values (1 or 5 on the likert scale), as did the 11
respondents earning over £60,000 (81.82%). These findings are summarised below
(table 4.8), shown against responses of the £15,001-£30,000 group, to highlight
the extent of polarisation seen in the highest and lowest income groups.

The highly polarised responses of the lowest and
highest income groups further support the assertion that income significantly
impacts the social acceptance of renewable energy infrastructure. This
polarisation may result from those in the highest income brackets paying the
most taxes, perceiving themselves as ‘significant contributors’ to such facilities,
supporting research by Grubbs et al (2014) who suggest resultantly that high
earners feel they have more at stake and are more personally involved in
projects like Javelin Park, potentially causing polarisation in responses.
Similarly, those in the lowest income bracket, such as students, pay little or
no tax therefore not actively contributing to such projects, and potentially
resulting in more positive views due to a resulting ‘free-rider’ effect,
supporting research by Katsuyoshi (2016). The lowest income bracket may also produce highly negative
polarised responses, seeing such energy facilities as a waste of public money
which could be spent more beneficially through lowered tuition fees, or
council-housing construction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.3.2: The impact of
annual income upon the perception of procedural, institutional, and
distributive justice

Procedural justice was investigated by question 14.
54% of participants believed the County Council was transparent and fair to
either ‘no extent’ or a ‘minor extent’. There was a relatively even
distribution in those expressing procedural justice concerns between the higher
and lower income groups. This implied annual income had no significant impact
upon the procedural justice element of social acceptance. A Mann Whitney U test
(table 4.9) was conducted, finding no significant difference in the
distribution of responses from the two income groups, confirming this
assumption. This interpretation was also supported by secondary evidence from
open-ended question excerpts, with lower earners mirroring views from higher
earners, in calling the council “suspicious” and “hard to contact/influence”.

Regarding institutional justice (the fairness of an
institution), both income groups overwhelmingly (72%) viewed Ubraser Balfour
Beatty to be transparent and fair to ‘no extent’ or a ‘minor extent’. A Mann
Whitney U test (table 4.10) was conducted, finding no significant difference in
the distribution of responses between the two income groups, confirming annual
income had no significant impact upon the institutional justice element of
social acceptance within the case study.

 

 

 

 

Question 16 assessed distributive justice. Income
appeared to have a significant impact upon perceptions of distributive justice,
with respondents earning £30,000 and under providing mainly positive views on Javelin
Park as a use of public money.  Those
earning over £30,000 appeared less positive, a significant difference in the
distribution of responses between these two groups was confirmed by a Mann
Whitney U-test (table 4.11). Open ended question excerpts supported these
findings with lower earners stating, “the project is good value, and think of
the jobs!”, compared to higher earners largely citing negativity, claiming the
project was an “expensive lame duck”. This may be due to respondents possessing
limited information regarding the cost effectiveness of incineration and its
energy generation capability. These findings also supported research by Knight
and Harper (2013), and their
‘selfish generation’ theory, that those who benefit from public services as
young people move in later life to favour policy that secures their personal
income and cuts taxes. As such, more than personal economic rationality may be
at play in these findings, and the lower satisfaction of older generations with
such projects, may be motivated by a desire to cut taxes through the abolition
of such projects.

 

4.3.3: Explanations
for findings

These findings support research by Branas-Garza et al.
(2010), who found that wealthy persons displayed higher levels of prejudice and
judgement, echoing the higher earning respondents here who believed they knew better
than the council, due to perceived entitlement. This may also explain why
higher earners viewed the Javelin Park project as having poorer distributional
justice than those in the lower income group.

Findings further supported former research of Grubbs
et al. (2014), who cited higher earners may feel ‘entitled’ and more likely to
perceive themselves as correct, rational and successful. This explains the
difference of opinions when compared to lower income groups, as higher earners
are less likely to take notice of evidence from experts who could otherwise
alleviate their initial and ongoing concerns regarding such developments and
alter their negative viewpoints.

 

 

 

4.4 The impact of
education level on social acceptance of renewable energy

Education
level was split into two groups for analysis, based on a 9 level UK government
education criteria (GOV UK, 2017). The ‘lower education group’ contained
respondents obtaining levels 1-5 on the criteria, including GCSEs, AS Levels,
and A levels. The ‘higher education group’ contained respondents obtaining
levels 6-9 on the criteria, including undergraduates, postgraduates, and
doctorates. Similar education categorisation has been utilised by Stevenson et
al (2014). Only 142 participants data could be utilised, as 8 did not provide
education level responses. 

Responses
to question 6, are shown below (figure 4.5), indicating education level
significantly impacts the social acceptance of renewable energy infrastructure.
37.29% of those in the ‘higher education group’ indicated they were ‘strongly
for’ renewable energy infrastructure, versus only 21.69% in the ’lower
education group’. 42.17% of lower education respondents were strongly or
moderately against renewable energy infrastructure, compared to only 27.12% in
the higher group’. The ‘higher education’ group therefore appeared to be significantly
more socially accepting of renewable energy infrastructure.

 

 

 

Responses to question 9 are shown below
(Figure 4.6). 49.4% of participants in the ‘lower education group’ were
strongly in favour of Javelin Park, compared to only 28.81% in the ‘higher
education group’. 40.67% of higher educated respondents were moderately or
strongly against the incinerator, compared to 10.84% of lower educated
respondents. Respondents in the ‘lower education group’ therefore appeared to
be significantly more socially accepting of Javelin Park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Independent sample Mann-Whitney U tests were
conducted on data for questions 6 and 9 (table 4.12), revealing a significant
difference in the distribution of responses between those in the higher and
lower education groups, regarding their acceptance of general renewable energy
and Javelin Park, confirming education level to have a significant impact upon
the social acceptance of renewable energy and the Javelin Park incinerator.

Contextual evidence for such findings was provided by
questions 13, 18 and 19. The ‘lower education group’ repeatedly provided
answers stating the incinerator was a sound project, “it will help make energy
whilst having other uses”, while being more negative to renewable energy in
general, stating “I don’t see the need”. In contrast, higher educated
respondents stated negative opinions of Javelin Park, “it’s a shame it isn’t
greener” but more often supported general renewable energy, “it’s a necessity”.
These open-ended responses provide secondary supporting evidence to the statistics
above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.4.1: Disparity in
responses to questions 6 and 9

The responses to questions 6 and 9 were unexpected. It
would be assumed that if in favour of renewable energy generally, the respondent
would also support Javelin Park. However, this was found to be untrue when data
was analysed in respect to education levels. Those in the ‘lower education
group’ were significantly against general renewable energy, but significantly
in favour of Javelin Park. In contrast, the ‘higher education group’ held
directly opposing views.

 

This may be explained through greater examination of
the case-study. It is possible those in the higher education group were
strongly in favour of general renewable energy, due to higher education making
them more understanding of the necessity of such facilities and alternative renewable
technology options when compared to the ‘low education group’. Those in the
‘higher education group’ may therefore believe incinerators to be undesirable
when compared to alternatives, due to reasons such as air quality impacts which
are unknown to the lower education group, resulting in a difference in social
acceptance levels.

 

This assumption is supported by question 7, which
asked respondents to rank various renewable energy facilities from least (1) to
most favourable (8). Those in the ‘higher education group’ ranked the
incinerator as less favourable (mean rank 2.4) than those in the ‘lower education
group’ (mean rank 4.2). Further support comes from open ended response
excerpts. Those in the higher education group often cited the incinerator as a
poor choice; “incinerators are a bad idea”, “wind turbines would be better”. In
contrast those in the ‘lower education group’ made opposing arguments, stating
they thought incinerators were positive; “they help to get rid of rubbish while
making energy”, “they are more useful and better to look at than turbines”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.4.2: Education
level and impacts upon perceptions of procedural, institutional, and
distributive justice

Procedural justice was investigated by question 14.
Both education level groups displayed clear distrust of the council,
predominantly stating it was transparent to ‘no extent’ or ‘little extent’ (78%
combined). A Mann Whitney U test (table 4.13) was conducted and found no
significant difference in the distribution of responses between the two education
groups, confirming education level has no significant impact upon the
procedural justice element of social acceptance.

Question 15 assessed institutional justice and again found
no significant difference in the views of the two education groups, both
overwhelmingly (74% of total responses) viewed Ubraser Balfour Beatty to be
transparent and fair to ‘no extent’ or a ‘minor extent’. A Mann Whitney U test
(table 4.14) was conducted, finding no significant difference in the
distribution of responses between the education groups, confirming education
level has no significant impact regarding the institutional justice element of
social acceptance. These findings, in light of general support for the project
being indicated by other analysis, may therefore represent a ‘knee-jerk
‘dissatisfaction with the developer or council, which is not being extrapolated
more widely with causal effects.

 

 

 

 

 

Question 16 assessed distributive justice. Education
level had no significant impact on responses to this question, with both groups
sharing scepticism regarding projects costs. A Mann Whitney U test (table 4.15)
was conducted, finding no significant difference in the distribution of
responses between the higher and lower education groups, confirming education
level to have no significant impact regarding the distributional justice
element of social acceptance.

4.4.3: Potential
explanations for findings

The significant difference in the social acceptance of
renewable energy caused by education level supports research by Stevenson et
al. (2014), who found that higher
educated persons were more understanding of the need for action against climate
change. This would explain the significantly higher acceptance of renewable
energy infrastructure seen in the ‘higher education group’.

Findings also support research from Gang et al.
(2013), who found that lower educated persons were less likely to analyse and
assess situations, being more expected to accept illegitimate information. This
may explain the lower education groups significantly higher acceptance of
Javelin Park, as they may ‘copycat’ views of ‘highly educated’ council
planners, failing to consider the further implications of the incinerator such
as reduced air quality, which the council may not make apparent.