The Politics of Estonia's Offshore Wind Energy Programme: Discourse, Power and Marine Spatial Planning




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Peer reviewed



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.


The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link. Open access article.


discourse, power, protest, wind energy, marine spatial planning, Estonia


Tafon, R., Howarth, D. and Griggs, S. (2018) The Politics of Estonia's Offshore Wind Energy Programme: Discourse, Power and Marine Spatial Planning. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space,


Research Institute

Local Governance Research Centre (LGRC)
Centre for Urban Research on Austerity (CURA)