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‘All out for shale’ : the mental health impacts of the government’s fracking policy: evidence from Lancashire, England

Waugh, Ryan LU (2020) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM02 20201
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
Shale gas extraction commonly known as fracking had support from the UK government with their ‘all out for shale’ policy. Despite this industry has struggled to establish itself mainly due to strong opposition from communities concerned about environmental and health impacts. Most research into the impacts of fracking is concerned with either environmental degradation or physical health impacts which coincide with the start of exploratory drilling. Research suggests community impacts can start as early as the planning stage, when shale gas developments are proposed, however there is little evidence on the mental health impacts on individuals living close to fracking sites. This research aimed to investigate whether shale gas developments... (More)
Shale gas extraction commonly known as fracking had support from the UK government with their ‘all out for shale’ policy. Despite this industry has struggled to establish itself mainly due to strong opposition from communities concerned about environmental and health impacts. Most research into the impacts of fracking is concerned with either environmental degradation or physical health impacts which coincide with the start of exploratory drilling. Research suggests community impacts can start as early as the planning stage, when shale gas developments are proposed, however there is little evidence on the mental health impacts on individuals living close to fracking sites. This research aimed to investigate whether shale gas developments negatively impacted the mental health of residents living within Lancashire, England, where the only operational fracking site is based at Preston New Road. A relatively small sample of 41 was surveyed to gather data on their experiences at the planning and exploration stage of the development. Currently a moratorium is in place which has halted the development at the exploration stage. Utilising the six core impacts of fracking identified in Szolucha (2016) from her work on the human dimension of shale gas development, it was found ‘social well-being and health’ was the main concern at the planning stage this changed to ‘democracy’ at the exploration stage. Experience of Common Mental Disorders (CMDs) was used as a measure of mental health impacts, only 26.8% of respondents had previously experienced a CMD before being aware of fracking, with 58.5% stating they have experienced a CMD since fracking was announced. Of those experiencing symptoms 96% said that their symptoms continued when exploratory drilling started. The most common CMD experienced at the planning stage was generalised anxiety disorder. At the exploration stage low mood was experienced most. The sample also expanded on specific events which had impacted their mental health negatively, the most common theme was of policing and intimidation. The case was analysed through an environmental justice lens, utilising Schlosberg (2004) environmental justice framework. It was found that the distribution of burdens was unequal, that marginalised groups were not recognised and the interference in local democracy constituted procedural injustice. There is evidence for more research into the impacts of energy extraction developments on mental health. For future developments, be it extreme energy extraction or renewables key recommendations have been identified to limit the negative mental health impacts in communities affected by fracking. (Less)
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author
Waugh, Ryan LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM02 20201
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Shale gas developments, Fracking, Mental Health, United Kingdom, Sustainability Science, Environmental Justice
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2020:052
language
English
id
9031360
date added to LUP
2020-10-27 10:01:12
date last changed
2020-10-27 10:01:12
@misc{9031360,
  abstract     = {Shale gas extraction commonly known as fracking had support from the UK government with their ‘all out for shale’ policy. Despite this industry has struggled to establish itself mainly due to strong opposition from communities concerned about environmental and health impacts. Most research into the impacts of fracking is concerned with either environmental degradation or physical health impacts which coincide with the start of exploratory drilling. Research suggests community impacts can start as early as the planning stage, when shale gas developments are proposed, however there is little evidence on the mental health impacts on individuals living close to fracking sites. This research aimed to investigate whether shale gas developments negatively impacted the mental health of residents living within Lancashire, England, where the only operational fracking site is based at Preston New Road. A relatively small sample of 41 was surveyed to gather data on their experiences at the planning and exploration stage of the development. Currently a moratorium is in place which has halted the development at the exploration stage. Utilising the six core impacts of fracking identified in Szolucha (2016) from her work on the human dimension of shale gas development, it was found ‘social well-being and health’ was the main concern at the planning stage this changed to ‘democracy’ at the exploration stage. Experience of Common Mental Disorders (CMDs) was used as a measure of mental health impacts, only 26.8% of respondents had previously experienced a CMD before being aware of fracking, with 58.5% stating they have experienced a CMD since fracking was announced. Of those experiencing symptoms 96% said that their symptoms continued when exploratory drilling started. The most common CMD experienced at the planning stage was generalised anxiety disorder. At the exploration stage low mood was experienced most. The sample also expanded on specific events which had impacted their mental health negatively, the most common theme was of policing and intimidation. The case was analysed through an environmental justice lens, utilising Schlosberg (2004) environmental justice framework. It was found that the distribution of burdens was unequal, that marginalised groups were not recognised and the interference in local democracy constituted procedural injustice. There is evidence for more research into the impacts of energy extraction developments on mental health. For future developments, be it extreme energy extraction or renewables key recommendations have been identified to limit the negative mental health impacts in communities affected by fracking.},
  author       = {Waugh, Ryan},
  keyword      = {Shale gas developments,Fracking,Mental Health,United Kingdom,Sustainability Science,Environmental Justice},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {‘All out for shale’ : the mental health impacts of the government’s fracking policy: evidence from Lancashire, England},
  year         = {2020},
}