Social Impacts of Natural Gas Exploration in England, 2018-2020


The aim of this data collection was to identify, record and describe the social impacts of natural gas exploration. Interviews were conducted across 5 different locations in England and involved individuals who lived, worked and protested in the vicinity of gas sites, including: local residents, farmers, business owners, police officers, protesters and local officials. They were asked to describe their experiences with natural gas exploration and extraction that was being planned or carried out in their locality. The research concerned both conventional and unconventional (involving hydraulic fracturing or other stimulation methods) gas developments.The increased demand for natural gas and concerns about national energy security have sparked a renewed interest in unconventional forms of energy development. Hydraulic fracturing is one popular form of unconventional gas development that is being pursued within the UK. As former Prime Minister David Cameron suggests, 'We're going all out for shale. It is important for our country, it could bring 74,000 jobs, over £3billion in investment, give us cheaper energy for the future, and increase our energy security. I want us to get on board.' While hydraulic fracturing may produce national social and economic benefits by reducing the price of energy and increasing national security it may also create negative outcomes in those communities where extraction takes place. It is within this context that the proposed research examines the social, economic and environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing. This research hypothesises that hydraulic fracturing can have two different kinds of impacts on a community. The first type of impact may arise from the technical process of hydraulic fracturing. The second type of impact may result from social interpretations of natural gas extraction. The proposed research seeks to distinguish between these two different types of impacts by undertaking the first UK study that makes systematic comparisons between hydraulic fracturing communities and conventional gas extraction communities. It is within these vital comparisons that the proposed study asks four important questions. First, how do residents and other local stakeholders (e.g., business owners, natural gas employees, law enforcement, protesters and community leaders) describe their experiences with gas extraction and do their experiences vary according to their race, ethnicity, gender and age and/or the type of natural gas development (i.e., conventional vs. unconventional)? Second, how do race, ethnicity, gender and age shape resident and other local stakeholder mobilisation and anti-mobilisation efforts? Third, what social, economic and environmental changes are reported to occur as a direct result of natural gas development? Importantly, how do these changes vary according to the type of development (i.e., conventional vs. unconventional)? Fourth, can life cycle assessment be a useful tool for informing national and local debates about hydraulic fracturing? Importantly, is there significant variation between conventional and unconventional gas developments when it comes to life cycle assessment? We answer these questions by achieving four objectives. Specifically, we (1) create a comprehensive literature review of the social and economic impacts of hydraulic fracturing on communities; (2) produce an ethnographic analysis of residents and other local stakeholders in hydraulic fracturing and conventional extraction communities; (3) generate a quantitative assessment of residents' perspectives about the social and economic impacts of living near hydraulic fracturing and conventional extraction sites, and; (4) undertake and report the findings of a life cycle assessment that compares hydraulic fracturing to conventional extraction. Completion of these objectives will provide relevant information to communities, statutory organisations, and policy-makers in order to stimulate a more informed and thoughtful public conversation about the benefits and burdens of hydraulic fracturing.

Semi-structured interviews. Interviewed individuals were selected through purposive and snowball sampling as well as residential canvassing. The interviewees lived, worked or protested in the vicinity of natural gas developments in five locations: Preston New Road in Lancashire, Kirby Misperton and Ebberston Moor South in North Yorkshire, Ellesmere Port in Cheshire and Albury in Surrey. The interviewed stakeholders included (in alphabetical order): business owners, farmers, local councillors, police officers, protesters and campaigners, unaffiliated local residents. An indiscriminate approach to sampling was adopted in which research participants were recruited based on their physical presence (either through residence, work or protest) in the vicinity of gas developments. Purposive sampling involved the selection of interviewees on the basis of the researcher's own observations and knowledge as well as public records that identified individuals who lived, worked or protested in the vicinity of gas exploration and extraction sites. Snowball sampling helped to identify potential interviewees on the basis of referrals from their acquaintances. These sampling methods were helpful in reaching diverse and hidden populations with particular experiences of gas development projects. No standardiesd question list was used during the interviews.

Metadata Access
Creator Szolucha, A, Jagiellonian University
Publisher UK Data Service
Publication Year 2021
Funding Reference Naural Environment Research Council; Economic and Social Research Council
Rights Anna Szolucha, Jagiellonian University; The UK Data Archive has granted a dissemination embargo. The embargo will end on 1 November 2022 and the data will then be available in accordance with the access level selected.
OpenAccess true
Language English
Resource Type Text
Discipline Social Sciences
Spatial Coverage Lancashire (Preston New Road gas site), Cheshire (Ellesmere Port site), North Yorkshire (Kirby Misperton and Ebberston Moor South sites), Surrey (Albury Park site); United Kingdom