The Bristol Channel-Severn Estuary (BC-SE) will be used as a case study to explore i) the implications of a mixture of potential marine renewable energy production methods on the cultural ecosystem benefits (primarily for different forms of recreation and residents) and ii) the extent to which people are willing to trade-off between biodiversity/cultural ecosystem benefits and the need for a clean, affordable, renewable and secure source of energy.
The Bristol Channel-Severn Estuary (BC-SE) is an interesting case study as several energy generating approaches have been suggested for the area including a tidal barrage (currently abandoned), tidal lagoons (with proposals for multiple locations) and offshore wind (the currently on hold Atlantic Array). It is also of environmental importance with many designated areas, attracts almost 50 million visitors annually and its coastal areas house 3.3 million people. To achieve the aims, a two stage process will be undertaken: a qualitative step involving semi-structured interviews, followed by a quantitative survey. The semi-structured interviews will target different recreational users and local residents of the BC-SE to explore the different cultural benefits they perceive from engaging with the BC-SE environment. This will include physical engagement with the site (e.g. tourism and recreation) as well as intangible interactions such as sense of place, place identity, place meaning and the impact of place disruption. The interviews will also be used to gain an initial understanding of the extent to which people are willing to trade-off these benefits with the need for clean, renewable energy.
Given the still uncertain nature of what the marine renewable energy mix may look like in the BC-SE, the quantitative survey will use the travel cost method combined with contingent behaviour (TCM-CB). The travel cost method (TCM) is a revealed preference approach that uses the expenditure made by individuals to recreation sites to estimate the value of these sites and to calculate the consumer surplus (the value of a site over and above the expenditure made to reach the site). The contingent behaviour approach allows an assessment of trip behaviour given certain hypothetical changes to the site (e.g. the installation of an offshore wind farm). This combination of methods will be used to explore the value of hypothetical changes in marine related recreation and the benefits obtained from engagement with the BC-SE following the installation of different combinations of marine renewable energy devices. Analytical hierarchy process supported by additional multicriteria assessment, or a similar technique, will be used to further quantify the trade-offs respondents are willing to make between ecosystem and energy benefits.
The outputs from the TCM-CB will also be used to estimate the overall regional economic impacts of changes in the use of this natural capital. The restructuring of the BC-SE economy to support these alternative energy sources will have implications for employment in the energy sector and will be assessed by creating a stylised input-output table for the region. The impacts on the tourism trade and wider economy will also be measured through the input-output table based on the changes in the demand revealed by the survey results. The outputs of the input-output analysis will be used to compare the economic trade-offs that could be expected in the region due to the alternative use of its natural capital. A simple regional CGE model will also be developed to capture the energy-environment-economy links of the region that will feed into the larger macro-economic models in Projects 11, 12 & 13.
This project will improve understanding of how a decarbonisation agenda links to the provision of cultural ES, and in turn the broader social and economic impacts. Achieving this outcome will depend on, and be influential in, an improving integration of energy and valuation communities. The results will be based in the specific and policy relevant context of the BC-SE, enabling meaningful comparisons between energy options, but will also be transferable across domains. This project will draw on outputs of Project 1 and Project 4; work closely with Project 2 to ensure regular two-way communication with stakeholders; and feed directly into Projects 11, 12, 13 & 15.