Stakeholder perspectives on shale gas fracking: a Q-method study of environmental discourses

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The rapid expansion of shale gas exploration worldwide is a significant source of environmental controversy. Successful shale gas policy-making is dependent upon a clear understanding of the dynamics of competing stakeholder perspectives on these issues, and so methods are needed to delineate the areas of agreement and conflict that emerge. This empirical study, based in the United Kingdom, examines emergent perspectives on a range of environmental, health and socio-economic impacts associated with shale gas fracking using Q-methodology: a combined qualitative–quantitative approach. The analysis reveals three typologies of perspectives amongst key industry, civil society and non-affiliated citizen stakeholders; subsequently contextualised in relation to Dryzek's typology of environmental discourses. These are labelled (A) ‘Don't trust the fossil fuels industry: campaign for renewables’ (mediating between sustainable development and democratic pragmatism discourses), (B) ‘Shale gas is a bridge fuel: economic growth and environmental scepticism’ (mediating between economic rationalism and ecological modernisation discourses) and (C) ‘Take place protective action and legislate in the public interest’ (reflecting a discourse of administrative rationalism). The implications of these competing discourses for nascent shale gas policy in the UK are discussed in light of recent government public consultation on changes to national planning policy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1944-1962
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2015


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