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Journal of Energy in Southern Africa

On-line version ISSN 2413-3051
Print version ISSN 1021-447X


LOMBARD, Andrea. Using participatory GIS to examine social perception towards proposed wind energy landscapes. J. energy South. Afr. [online]. 2015, vol.26, n.2, pp.42-52. ISSN 2413-3051.

Thirteen onshore wind farm projects, totalling approximately 700 wind turbines, are proposed for the West Coast Region (WCR) of the Western Cape Province in South Africa. Wind energy exploitation possesses the ability to transform what can be classified as natural landscapes into landscapes of power, making the type of landscape on which wind turbines are deployed a prominent factor in its social acceptance or rejection. This paper examines the landscape aesthetics and land use interference of proposed wind farms in the WCR of South Africa through determining if social acceptance or rejection of proposed wind farms is dependent on the residents and visitors scenic and land use valuation of the natural landscape. The results indicate that the visual intrusion of wind turbines is the impact that respondents are least concerned with contrasting with the findings of international literature and further reasons for this anomaly are interrogated against the background of South Africa's dire electricity needs. The paper concludes that visual impact assessments alone are not sufficient for evaluating landscapes and this paper recommends that participatory geographic information systems (PGIS) be used in addition to existing wind energy landscape assessments.

Keywords : wind energy landscapes; participatory GIS; South Africa.

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