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Will Unconventional, Horizontal, Hydraulic Fracturing for Shale Gas Production Purposes Create Environmental Harm in the United Kingdom?

Lampkin, Jack ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5104-8758 (2018) Will Unconventional, Horizontal, Hydraulic Fracturing for Shale Gas Production Purposes Create Environmental Harm in the United Kingdom? Doctoral thesis, University of Lincoln.

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Abstract

In April 2018 Cuadrilla Resources successfully drilled the UK’s first<br/>horizontal shale gas well in Lancashire. Whilst there is an abundance<br/>of academic research on the environmental impacts of fracking<br/>(primarily in North America), there is no scholarship that specifically<br/>considers what environmental harms may occur from fracking in a<br/>UK context. This thesis is therefore an important, original contribution<br/>to academic understanding and is presented at a vital time in the<br/>development of fracking in the UK where production of shale gas is<br/>imminent.<br/><br/>In order to assess the potential for environmental harm, 20 semistructured<br/>interviews were conducted with a variety of key-informants<br/>(people possessing important expertise of one or more areas of the<br/>fracking process in the UK). These key-informants came from a<br/>variety of backgrounds and included: 5 Anti-Fracking Campaigners; 3<br/>Academics; 3 Employees from Regulatory Bodies; 2 Geological<br/>Consultants; 1 Journalist; 1 Parish Councillor; 1 District Councillor; 1<br/>Water Consultant; 1 Oil and Gas Professional; 1 Oil and Gas<br/>Consultant; and 1 Gas Company Director. Interview questions were<br/>derived from a literature review that revealed different opportunities<br/>for environmental harm to occur based on a variety of academic and<br/>organisational research. As a result, interview questions centred on<br/>water (specifically; water aquifers, water resources, and wastewater)<br/>and other aspects (seismicity, chemical usage, well integrity and<br/>flaring).<br/><br/>Treadmill of Production and eco-philosophy were used as theoretical<br/>underpinnings of the research. Treadmill of Production provides an<br/>understanding of why fracking has emerged in the UK, concluding<br/>that the demise of North Sea oil and gas is leading to the increased<br/>attractiveness of more extreme energy sources in order to keep the<br/>treadmill running. The harms identified in the results chapters are<br/>forms of ecological withdraws and additions that lead to ecological disorganisation. Additionally, eco-philosophy provides three different<br/>perspectives from which to view human interactions with shale gas<br/>resources. The conclusion is that fracking clearly represents an<br/>anthropocentric approach to the creation of energy where human<br/>wants and needs are prioritised over the survival demands of<br/>humans, non-human species and the wider ecology.<br/>The thesis is best situated within the discipline of green criminology<br/>due to the fact that fracking is a legal production process in the UK. It<br/>is suggested that green criminology is in a unique position to<br/>evaluate fracking, and that this is not possible in orthodox<br/>criminological discussions that view crimes solely as violations of<br/>criminal laws.<br/><br/>By conducting primary research prior to the development of fracking<br/>in the UK, this research has identified key areas for environmental<br/>harm to occur based on the expertise of a variety of key-informants.<br/>This is the first piece of research of its kind and it is argued that<br/>analysing the potential for environmental harm to occur prior to the<br/>production of shale gas is more beneficial that analysing<br/>environmental degradations after they have already occurred<br/>according to the precautionary principle of environmental law.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Status: Unpublished
School/Department: York Business School
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/5868

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