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The politics of Estonia’s offshore wind energy programme: Discourse, power and marine spatial planning

Tafon, Ralph and Howarth, David and Griggs, Steven (2019) 'The politics of Estonia’s offshore wind energy programme: Discourse, power and marine spatial planning.' Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, 37 (1). pp. 157-176. ISSN 2399-6544

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There is growing recognition that Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is an inherently political process marked by a clash of discourses, power and conflicts of interest. Yet there are very few attempts to make sense of and explain the political practices of MSP protests in different contexts, especially the way that planners and developers create the conditions for the articulation of objections, and then develop new strategies to negotiate and mediate community resistance. Using poststructuralist discourse theory, the article analyzes the politics of a proposed offshore wind energy (OWE) project in Estonia within the context of the country’s MSP processes. First, through the lens of politicization, it explores the strategies of political mobilization and the rival discourses of expertise and sustainability through which residents and municipal actors have contested the OWE project. Secondly, through the lens of depoliticization, it explains the discursive and legalistic strategies employed by developers, planners and an Administrative Court to displace – spatially and temporally – the core issues of contestation, thus legitimizing the OWE plan. We argue that the spaces created by the pre-planning conjuncture offered the most conducive conditions for residents to voice concerns about the proposed project in a dialogical fashion, whereas the MSP and post-planning phases became mired in a therapeutic-style consultation, set alongside rigid and unreflexive interpretations and applications of legality. We conclude by setting out the limits of the Estonian MSP as a process for resolving conflicts, while offering an alternative model of handling such public controversies, which we call pragmatic adversarialism.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: marine spatial planning; discourse; power; Estonia; offshore wind power
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2018 09:48
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 13:50

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