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Expertise, trading zones and the planning system: a case study of an Energy-from-Biomass plant

Hacking, Nicholas ORCID:, Evans, Robert ORCID: and Lewis, Jamie ORCID: 2023. Expertise, trading zones and the planning system: a case study of an Energy-from-Biomass plant. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space 10.1177/25148486231212083

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Planning disputes are sites of contestation in which science-based regulations come into conflict with the place-based knowledge of local communities. The procedural and often technical nature of these regulations means that these controversies are marked by an asymmetry of resources that is often experienced by community groups as an asymmetry in credibility. In short, the expertise of developers is generally accepted as such, whilst the knowledge claimed by citizens is dismissed as ‘anecdotal’ or ‘NIMBYism’. In this paper, we make the argument that the asymmetries of expertise are less stark than the current system typically allows and that recognising and accommodating this would improve the planning system by enhancing the representation and inclusion of community voices. We explore this position by using a case study of the construction of a biomass-from-energy plant in South Wales. Drawing from 30 qualitative interviews, we maintain that the planning process has the potential to function as one of a network of ‘trading zones’ in which different communities enact their rights and have their claims to knowledge and expertise recognised. Crucial to this argument is understanding that the levels and kinds of expertise that different parties bring to the interactions are more than just matters of attribution: community groups can have genuine expertise.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: In Press
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 2514-8494
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 23 October 2023
Date of Acceptance: 17 October 2023
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2023 17:27

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