Conflicts over the installation of wind farms constrain the potential to adopt an effective means for mitigating climate change. Although conventional wisdom attributes wind farm opposition to ‘not in my back yard’ attitudes, research shows that this explanation fails to incorporate the multiplicity of underlying motivations of opposition. Instead, distributional and institutional factors and procedural opportunities for public participation significantly influence support for wind farms. We consider the relevance of a political ecology explanation of wind farm conflicts by focusing on a case study in rural Catalonia, Spain. We argue that the conflict constitutes a recurrence of older and broader ‘centre’–‘periphery’ antagonisms and that two more explanatory elements are complementary to this political ecology explanation: the existence of alternative landscape valuations and the encouragement of instrumental rationality by the planning framework. We suggest that the absence of opportunities for meaningful deliberation in decision making and the predominance of decisional bottom lines curtail claims to fairer distribution of costs and benefits from locally hosted energy developments, as well as alternative landscape value claims, and that this fuels conflict.