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An analysis of the UK’s regulation and management of ‘fracking’ through application of a framework of ‘good governance’ applied to case studies from England, France, United States, China and Algeria

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Title: An analysis of the UK’s regulation and management of ‘fracking’ through application of a framework of ‘good governance’ applied to case studies from England, France, United States, China and Algeria
Authors: Aczel, Miriam Rose
Item Type: Thesis or dissertation
Abstract: The United Kingdom (UK) at the national level has promoted development of shale-embedded gas in the interest of national energy security, economic growth and as a ‘bridge fuel’ with arguable lower carbon emissions until renewable energy sources can be produced at scale. The government’s intention to explore for and extract hydrocarbons, using hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling or fracking, however, has met with community opposition, notably in the North of England where initial drilling had begun, but was halted due to induced seismicity. There has been a moratorium on the practice since 2019, and it is unclear when—or if—the UK government will again allow operations to proceed. This research analyses the UK’s governance frameworks for regulation of potential impacts of shale gas extraction from a community- and citizen-centred, and human rights, perspective with the goal of identifying potential regulatory gaps, and concludes with recommendations to strengthen environmental and public health protections within the regulatory and decision- making framework. A framework of principles of good governance combined with principles drawn from the Aarhus Convention on environmental rights is defined and employed to analyse the role of governance in decision-making and community inclusion in these processes. How divergent national and local priorities and perspectives are managed under varied governance frameworks is explored through this framework. The thesis employs a methodology of multiple methods within multiple case studies. The central case examines the community experience of Lancashire, England, to understand the UK’s regulatory approach and potential impacts at the local scale. To deepen analysis of the functioning of the UK’s regulatory framework and communities’ experience, case studies were undertaken in the United States, France, China and Algeria to evaluate decision-making and regulatory strategies that other governments with diverse governance structures have adopted toward the technology in weighing environmental or health risks with energy or economic benefits. The research highlights the role of public engagement and assessment of the local social, cultural, economic and energy contexts when considering technologies with potentially uncertain risks. 6 This research acknowledges the need to address regulation of novel and arguably contentious technologies (such as renewable energies; geoengineering; and greenhouse gas removal (GGR) and carbon capture and storage (CCS), among others), and the role of public engagement and discourse in developing regulatory frameworks. Highlights of key findings include: § Meaningful and inclusive stakeholder participation in decision-making, access to clear information and access to just and fair legal remedies in case of dispute, as defined in the Aarhus Convention, is required to ensure adequate protection from environmental and public health risks § Lack of access to information and transparency in decision-making may lead to community distrust and opposition to proposed developments, and risk to communities § Robust and comprehensive assessment of risks to environmental health, human health, community and social well-being, and human rights is necessary to ensure optimal policy and regulatory outcomes § Top-down governance that imposes decisions based on national priorities, such as energy security independence, without understanding, respecting or considering local priorities may put communities at risk and result in community opposition and lead to destabilizing impacts on government § Decisions imposed and policies enacted by top-down governance may lead to community and local opposition if there is the perception that decision-makers do not understand or consider the culture, social environment, and economic needs of the local community, or demonstrate awareness of potential risks at the local scale § Failure of industry to gain social acceptance from local communities for projected shale gas operations, or other emerging or contested technologies, may lead to public opposition § Effective implementation of regulatory and policy frameworks requires integration of governance and communication at all levels of governance
Content Version: Open Access
Issue Date: Sep-2020
Date Awarded: Feb-2021
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/96234
DOI: https://doi.org/10.25560/96234
Copyright Statement: Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial Licence
Supervisor: Makuch, Karen
Sponsor/Funder: Imperial College London
Department: Centre for Environmental Policy
Publisher: Imperial College London
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Qualification Name: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Appears in Collections:Civil and Environmental Engineering PhD theses



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