Abstract

 There is a growing body of scholarship on the enabling conditions for energy transitions in various energy contexts globally. Transition measures need to address the concerns of communities that will host renewable energy infrastructure. Despite this, the consequences of energy transitions at the community level and in coastal environments have not received adequate attention. The case of the Corrib Gas field development in Ireland provides valuable insights into stakeholder issues surrounding strategic infrastructure developments. Material from case study work with over 70 stakeholders in a rural coastal region in Ireland’s West is used to identify the cause of disputes in energy governance.

The study shows that economic development is strongly linked to the cultural fabric, not just of the country, but of the locality. Here, a lack of trust of those in power had an influence on the conflict. The appointment of a mediator as an honest broker was a tipping point towards diffusion of tension and an adaptive response by all parties. The establishment of a body with a mandate to evaluate the application of ethical rules, based on good governance principles, is suggested as an option for a refined governance model.

The insights are relevant for the energy transition in jurisdictions around the world. Given the urgent need for decarbonisation and the potential for marine renewable energy, lessons from the past, as documented in this paper, can help to inform better governance of common pool marine resources. This is increasingly important for the industrialisation of marine renewable energy and the need to reconcile the interests of government, industry and civil society.

Highlights

  • Understanding the cultural fabric of communities can help mitigating marine conflicts.
  • An honest broker approach is suggested to progress when entrenched views prevail.
  • Trust is a key principle of good governance to achieve successful project development.
  • Lessons from offshore oil and gas can inform best practice in MRE governance.
  • Informing better marine governance is a prerequisite to reconcile diverse interests.

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