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In the following abstracts the region Havelland-Fläming with the municipalities “Dahme/Mark” and “Niederer Fläming” and “Uebigau-Wahrenbrück”, in the region Lausitz-Spreewald, are illustrated in further detail. Here, the surveys about the acceptance of wind energy have taken place. Moreover, references to the local wind energy development are included.

Havelland-Fläming: Dahme/Mark and Niederer Fläming

The change of the landscape by technogenic elements, like wind turbines and power lines, can lead to adverse perceptions towards the politically driven wind energy development (cf. Caporal & de Lucia 2015, Swofford & Slattery 2010 or Larsen et al. 2015). Already occupying the second place with regard to the total installed capacity in MW among the federal states of Germany in 2015 (DEWI 2015), it is becoming apparent that Brandenburg provides favourable installation conditions for implementing the turnaround in energy policy at federal state level. Due to the enforced development of renewable energy resources the crucial questions arise: what happens to a region if the visual landscape changes, what consequences result from this and how do the inhabitants perceive those changes (see Fig. 1)?

Fig. 1: Wind energy facilities close to housings in Dahme/Mark (Photo: R. Camargo)

Being strongly marked by wind turbines in the Havelland-Fläming region in Brandenburg, the municipalities “Dahme/Mark” and also “Niederer Fläming” are notable study sites in order to analyse the social acceptance towards locally installed wind turbines.

Starting with six single wind energy facilities in 1998, in the year 2016, the municipality Dahme/Mark now exceeds more than 81 wind facilities that provide a capacity of 128 MW (Amt Dahme/Mark 2016). And this is not all as the current “Regional Plan Havelland-Fläming 2020” puts once more strong emphasis on the energy transition and stipulates the development of wind energy among others in these municipalities (RP H-F 2015).

Against this background, the student’s project was initiated as a result of an inquiry of the “Regionale Planungsgemeinschaft Havelland Fläming” (engl., “regional planning association”) to conduct a survey about the local residents’ acceptance towards the wind energy development in the two areas “Dahme/Mark” and “Niederer Fläming”. As early as 2005, a survey has been conducted in these two municipalities in order to analyse the residents’ attitude towards the local wind energy development. Consequently, this posed an incentive for a current survey with the aim to assess and analyse whether the social acceptance of wind turbines has changed over a 10-years period. While in 2005, findings made clear that positive as well as negative perspectives approximately outweighed the residents’ attitude towards wind energy facilities, however, in the wake of the increasing expansion of wind facilities in and around the municipalities, it was now to assume as one research hypothesis that the attitude has changed to the negative.

Moreover, the second evident question for the student’s project arose, if there are differences in residents’ perception in comparison to other municipalities in the region Havelland-Fläming, which differ in historical and structural characteristics. For example, the municipality “Lausitz-Spreewald” was and still is strongly influenced by coal mining activities, while the city of Potsdam might provide fewer contact points with local wind turbines in sub-urban areas. In both areas, residents, consequently, might tend to be more open towards the local wind energy development in Brandenburg whereas residents living in the rural areas close to the wind turbines might argue to converse, like in Dahme/Mark and Niederer Fläming. These research questions and hypotheses thus represented the framework of the student project’s survey.

Summary of the working hypotheses

The following working hypotheses of the student’s study in Havelland-Fläming can be summed up as follows:

  • There is a change of perception towards wind energy facilities approximately to the negative in a 10-years period since in this time the wind energy development increased (cf. Amt Dahme/Mark 2016).
  • People living in the former coal mining region of Lausitz-Spreewald might approve wind energy facilities more often than in Havelland-Fläming. However, it turned out that the responding rate of the student’s survey in Lausitz-Spreewald with 21 returned questionnaires was rather low; therefore the received replies could only represent a general indicator of the resident’s perception in a region characterised by former coal mining activities in comparison to the municipalties Dahme/Mark and Niederer Fläming in the region Havelland-Fläming.

To further determine the influencing factors of the wind energy planning process on the resident’s attitude towards wind energy, the following secondary working hypotheses were formulated:

  • The acceptance of wind energy is higher when people perceive that wind turbines do not destroy landscape. The analysis of the literature showed that if wind parks are not planned with “spatial consciousness” (ibid.), the turbines are frequently perceived as intruders to the rural landscape and a symbol for the urban-technological sprawl (Jessup 2010; Cowell 2010; Zilles & Schwarz 2015) and are thus rejected and spur opposition to the wind energy development. The wish to keep the landscape as it is, respectively the disapproval with the installed turbines proved in several empirical studies on the indicators of social acceptance to be a very strong predictor of opposition to wind energy development (Zoellner et al. 2008; Wolsink 2007; Wolsink 2000; Johansson & Laike 2007).
  • With greater distance to the wind farms and higher density of wind turbines, the acceptance of wind energy increases (distance & density factor). The conducted literature review showed that residents frequently wish for the wind development that it should be realized at a larger distance to residential areas (Meyerhoff, Ohl & Hartje 2010). However, there seem to be uncertainties as it has been found several times that there is no significant relation between the distance to the wind parks and the level of acceptance of wind energy development (e.g. Hübner 2013; Hübner & Pohl 2015; Groth & Vogt 2014; Petrova 2016).
  • With rising level of information, wind energy has a higher acceptance (information, participation). The background to this hypothesis is that the literature review revealed that the better-informed people were previously about impacts of the wind energy development, the more acceptances they showed for the project (Bush & Hoagland 2016; Jobert, Laborgne & Mimler 2007; Enevoldsen & Sovacool 2016). An effect that proved to be even stronger over time, when people had learned about the positive impacts of wind energy and were able to dismiss previously assumed but unfounded concerns (Firestone et al. 2012; Petrova 2016).
  • The acceptance of wind energy increases with direct benefit from the renewable energy (economic factor). It can generally be observed that the anticipated effect on local economy has the highest single effect on attitudes (Schweizer-Ries 2008), to the extent that it even improves the perception of landscape change (Bidwell 2013), according to the conducted literature review.

Regional and wind energy characteristics of “Havelland-Fläming”

Demographic characteristics and development

The region Havelland-Fläming is located in Brandenburg, comprises around 6,800 km² and consists of the counties “Havelland”, “Potsdam-Mittelmark” and “Teltow-Fläming” as well as the independent towns (ger., “kreisfreien Städte”) “Potsdam” and “Brandenburg an der Havel” (RP H-F 2016a). It is notable, that Havelland-Fläming is the most populous region in Brandenburg, but is characterized by a declining population in the rural areas, hence, the municipalities Dahme/Mark as well as Niederer Fläming are effected by the demographic change similarly (RP H-F 2016b). Unfulfilled growth expectations of the 1990s of the last century offered development and construction possibilities that exceed the expected need until 2020 and the demographic development allows expecting a number of inhabitants of just 760,000 till 2020. An ageing population along with the demographic change for this region is expected all the same. Moreover, an increasing change of the preferred living conditions away from the „living in blockhouses“ to the „living in one and two family houses“ is notable (RP H-F 2015).

Currently, Dahme/Mark covers 162 km² and has a population about 5,253 inhabitants while Niederer Fläming comprises 185 km² with 3,186 inhabitants (Landkreis Teltow-Fläming 2016). The size and structure of the settlements in the region show that these areas can be developed in towns in the future due to its empty sites and open spaces, therefore new designated areas for settlement are not considered as necessary outside of the settlements (RP H-F 2015).

The figure 2 shows the location of the selected municipalities as well as the density of wind turbines in Brandenburg. The density map was based on data from the Landwirtschafts- und Umweltinformationssystem des Landes Brandenburg (LUIS-BB) concerning immission control (Landesamt für Umwelt Brandenburg, 2016), whereas the number of wind turbines installed and under construction in each municipality was divided by each municipality's area (km²).

{{ :research:verortung_dm_und_nf.png |Fig. 2: Map of density of wind turbines in Brandenburg and selected municipalities. Data source: Landwirtschafts- und Umweltinformationssystem des Landes Brandenburg (LUIS-BB) concerning immission control (Landesamt für Umwelt Brandenburg, 2016) Click here for the interactive map

Landscape characteristics

The region Havelland-Fläming is located in the North German Plain and is characterized by the vast valley areas of the both the region to crossing glacial valleys (Berliner and Glogau-Baruther glacial valley). It also belongs to the most important cultural landscapes of the central European history: The middle of the electorate and the Kingdom of Prussia developed from a poor border mark. Havelland-Fläming can be distinguished between four landscape units. The present landscape protection encloses up to very vast parts of the region as for example the 136 km2 big landscape protection area “Westhavelland’ (RP H-F 2015).

The regional plan 2020 therefore formulates the objective to preserve hardly altered landscape elements, which are not fragmented and spoiled, such as valley sceneries and fens. These sensitive areas also include existing landscape protection areas as well as other areas with a size up to 700 km2 that comprise nearly 40 % of the whole region (RP H-F 2015).

Wind energy development

Concerning the wind energy development, in the region Havelland-Fläming there are currently 683 wind energy facilities with a capacity of 1,187 MW (RP H-F 2016c). In the municipality Dahme/Mark there are 50 wind facilities located and 10 are planned. In Niederer Fläming 57 wind facilities exist and three more are planned (RPHV 2016) (see figure 3).

{{ :research:rural_areas:fig._1_hf.png |Fig. 3: Wind energy facilities installed and under construction in Niederer Fläming and Dahme/Mark. Data source: Landwirtschafts- und Umweltinformationssystem des Landes Brandenburg (LUIS-BB) concerning immission control (Landesamt für Umwelt Brandenburg, 2016) Click here for the interactive map

Designated areas for wind energy

Within the “Regional Plan Havelland-Fläming 2020”, which was approved in June 2015, the usage of wind energy is stipulated and the plan poses suitable areas for wind turbines, including potential areas for the location of wind turbines as well as designated areas (ger., “Windeignungsgebiete”) for wind energy. In total, the plan prescribes 24 designated areas for wind turbines in Havelland-Fläming (2,2 % of the region); approximately four of those are close or closer than 3.000 m to the municipalities Dahme/Mark and Niederer Fläming (cf. designated areas: “WEG 39 Ilmersdorfer Holz”, “WEG 40 Dahme”, “WEG 36 Sernower Heide”, “WEG 37 Schlenzer-Wahlsdorfer Heide”). The overall distance between the designated areas for wind turbines is 5.000 m in order to preserve the aesthetics of the landscape (RP-HF 2015). All in all, the designated areas compromise 4 % of the total areas that are suitable for the usage of wind energy, other areas cannot be used due to e.g. the prescribed distances of importance for bird protection (ger., „tierökologische Abstandskriterien“), visual axes or forest functions etc. (cf. RP-HF 2015: 1002). (see figure 4). A minimum distance of 1.000 m of wind farms on local settlements is prescribed in the environmental report of the regional plan, while a distance of 600 m is required on single settlements (ger., “einzelne Siedlungsplätze”) (RP H-F 2015: 974). However, the regional plan 2020 states that the achievement of the aim of the energy strategy in 2030 of the land Brandenburg is not sufficient due to the fact that with the definitions of the regional plan the use of wind energy in the region is integrated in substantially manner (RP H-F 2015).

Within the scope of the strategic environmental assessment (SUP) a check of the compatibility of the regional plan and the determine wind energy development with the habitat protection areas (FFH-Gebiete) has taken place. The results show that interferences at the level of the regional plan could be excluded for all Natura-2000 areas. Furthermore it was found that the regional plan causes probably no considerable negative environmental impact in the region Havelland-Fläming (RP H-F 2015).

Fig. 4: Relevant designated areas for wind energy faculties („WEG“) in Niederer Fläming (left) and Dahme/Mark (right) (extract of the regional plan 2020) (RP-HF 2015)

Acceptance of wind energy

In the year 2005, a survey on the acceptance of wind energy in the Havelland-Fläming region has taken place, being a component of an investigation about the fair exchange of technologies and experiences, a project called „Regional Wind Technology And Knowledge Transfer Strategies“ (WindTechKnow). The survey was conceived with reference to the designated areas for wind energy, as they were determined in the regional plan in the year 2005. In the course of this, the locations for the survey were selected at a distance of up to approx. 3000 m of the designated areas for wind energy. The chosen citizens received between May and July 2005 a questionnaire with a total of 24 questions and about 60 % of the distributed questionnaires could be collected again (WindTechKnow 2005).

The main results of this survey showed that generally a majority of the interviewees supported the use of renewable energy resources. The highest approval found the use of solar energy. The general attitude towards wind energy was strongly polarised since supportive as well as opponent positions were stated equally. Exemplarily, one point stated was that the residents felt insufficiently and too late informed about local wind energy projects. Moreover, disadvantages of the use of wind energy, like the destruction of the landscape, were stated more often than the possible advantages. However, the majority of the interviewees did not describe the first reactions to wind projects as negative, but according to the prevailing opinion wind farms should comprise fewer facilities and should be installed in far distances from the settlements. Nevertheless, economic aspects were seen as important to the residents with regard to the question if local wind energy projects were perceived as reasonable (WindTechKnow 2005).

These results provided a useful opportunity for this repetition study with the aim to find out whether the attitude of the local residents had changed within the last years, although there was a development of wind energy facilities and whether a habitation effect to the wind turbines can be detected.

Citizen initiatives

The wind energy development in Havelland-Fläming, fostered by the regional plan 2020, has given rise to citizen initiatives; the hub height of 200 m of the turbines being one point of criticism. According to the PNN (2015) the heights of the new wind turbines were considered to be visible far away from the settlements and the citizen initiative “Waldkleeblatt” pointed out that the fragmentation of the woodlands of Brandenburg as well as the wind turbines threat’s to species conservation would impact the landscape. Other concerns, such as fears for the prestige for the Recura medical centres in Beelitz due to locally installed wind turbines in Havelland-Fläming, were discussed and made loud in the media. Besides, there is massive opposition from the Beelitzer city hall (PNN 2015). For instance, the inhabitants in Dahme also promote headwind, feeling misunderstood in the planning process. The initiative is called „Headwind from Gebersdorf and the surrounding of Dahme – pro nature“ and stands for an energy transition that pays respects to human interests as well as to interests of conservation. One argument is the distances and the location of the installed turbines to the villages as the siting of wind energy in forests and closer than 2 km to the settlements is seen critically (MAZ 2014).

These examples show that the development of wind energy was and possibly is obviously accompanied by doubts and criticism in the population; nevertheless voices are expressed only individually and the question to what extent a majority in the population supports or defeats wind energy in the region Havelland-Fläming was not analysed since the survey in 2005.


The Municipality Uebigau-Wahrenbrück is a rural municipality with 5,462 inhabitants. It is located in the south-west of Brandenburg. The area of the municipality, which overall has a size of 135 km², is mostly used for agriculture activities (87 km²) and further largely covered by forest (35 km²) (Stadt Uebigau-Wahrenbrück 2013).

The population density in the municipality is very low, as the share of surface covered by the settlements. The rarely inhabited area of the municipality is divided into 21 subdistricts. These subdistricts differ in size and number of inhabitants, the largest of these subdistricts are Uebigau and Wahrenbrück (Stadt Uebigau-Wahrenbrück 2014).

Despite its rural characteristics it can be said, that energy production within the region is also of outstanding importance. From the beginning of the 19th century to the end of the 20th century coalmining within the municipality Uebigau-Wahrenbrück had an crucial impact on the local development of the region (Stadt Uebigau-Wahrenbrück 2014, Baxmann 2004 ). Still today remaining sites from the previous historical time are present in the landscape. For instance the subdistricts Domsdorf, Beutersitz and Wildgrube show a high historical influence of the coalmining activities throughout a regional coalmine and related factories like briquetting plants (Stadt Uebigau-Wahrenbrück 2014).

Today no active coalmine is to be found within the municipality and the historical coalmining sites just play a role within tourism sector (Stadt Uebigau-Wahrenbrück 2014). Therefore, the situation is significantly different from the neighborhood region in the south-east of Brandenburg, where still high scale coal-mining activities takes place (Brandenburgische Landeszentrale für politische Bildung 2013).

Even though there is no active coalmining within Uebigau-Wahrenbrück, it can be said, that the region, still continues with its tradition as an energy production region. However today the energy production in the municipality is not driven by coalmining, but renewable energies especially wind energy (Stadt Uebigau-Wahrenbrück 2013).

Throughout the engagement of the Uebigau-Wahrenbrück the municipality became an important stakeholder for the regional renewable energy development. It is also remarkable that the municipality Uebigau-Wahrenbrück was engaged in several research cooperation. One of these projects for instance is called ‘Innovative Energieorte’, which aimed to identify opportunities for the local development of renewable energies (Stadt Uebigau-Wahrenbrück 2013). Despite the research cooperation the municipality supports also pioneer projects which enforce the local renewable development. One of these pioneer projects is an old briquette fabric ‘louise’, which was turned into an climate and renewable energy school (Stadt Uebigau-Wahrenbrück 2013). Another project worth noting is the construction of two ‘citizen wind turbines’ by an wind energy company in 2014. The aim of these citizen wind turbines is to enable the citizens to buy shares of the turbines and further to enable them to profit direct benefit of wind energy (UKA 2016, Stadt Uebigau-Wahrenbrück 2013).

As a result of the illustrated high engagement in research and other cooperation’s the municipality produce a consistent amount of renewable energy (Stadt Uebigau-Wahrenbrück 2013). Indeed, the electricity production in 2010 of the municipality did not just cover the energy need within the region, but was about 424% of their own demand (Stadt Uebigau-Wahrenbrück 2013). The overall production in this year was 91 GWh, from which 70 GWh could be exported to other regions. Furthermore, the municipality includes several types of different renewable energy sources, which are photovoltaic, biomass as well as solar heat. The largest and most important energy source however is wind energy, which already had a capacity of 85 GWh in 2010 (Stadt Uebigau-Wahrenbrück 2013).

Today the municipality already has 32 installed wind turbines (see figure 5) and further there is an ongoing approval process for another 14 wind turbines and another 3 are in a construction process. These wind turbines are mostly situated in the two wind parks of the municipality (BKG 2016).

Fig. 5: Wind energy facilities installed and under construction in Uebigau-Wahrenbrück. Data source: Landwirtschafts- und Umweltinformationssystem des Landes Brandenburg (LUIS-BB) concerning immission control (Landesamt für Umwelt Brandenburg, 2016) Click here for the interactive map

Despite the current increase of wind turbines, the long-time development of wind energy in the region is still uncertain, however, the climate protection concept of Uebigau-Wahrenbrück (2013) provides several scenarios about the potential future development of wind energy (Stadt Uebigau-Wahrenbrück 2013). All these scenarios are based on the year 2010 data and estimate the technical and spatial development potentials for the renewable energy production in the year 2030. The predicted increase ranges from 'no significant increase’ up to nearly a doubling of the wind energy capacity. The ‘ambitious scenario’ states that an increase up to 226 GWh would be possible (Stadt Uebigau-Wahrenbrück 2013).

Taking the increase of the wind energy in the last years and the possible future developments into account it can be said that wind energy is a crucial topic within Uebigau-Wahrenbrück. It is worth noting that in the climate protection concept of the municipality it is stated that the future development of wind energy in the region is not only depending on the spatial and technical possibilities, but also on public acceptance as this development has to be weighted against other public interests (Stadt Uebigau-Wahrenbrück 2013). This dependency of wind energy development on social acceptance once more shows the relevance of the debate about social acceptance and further this research.

The idea of selecting the municipality Uebigau-Wahrenbrück was an attempt of identifying relevant factors behind possible differences in social acceptance of wind energy between Havelland-Fläming and Lausitz-Spreewald. The comparison was thought meaningful once Uebigau-Wahrenbrück shows interesting characteristics related to energy production.

The municipality takes part in a development of a Regional Energy Concept. Lausitz-Spreewald is a centre of renewable energy production in particular from wind and solar source, however for two centuries brown coal production was a fundamental activity for the whole region.

Furthermore, the administration of the municipality Uebigau-Wahrenbrück is committed to different green initiatives (e.g. conversion of energy production, climate management plan). The municipality participated in a climate protection project, which ended in 2013, supported by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). Moreover, the administration supports wind energy development, for instance, new wind farms have been planned within/or at the borders of the municipality, however, close to settlements.


research/rural_areas.txt · Last modified: 2017/03/10 00:08 by r.rodriguescamargo