Is Money the Answer?
by hmac on November 21, 2016 - 7:43pm
Fracking is a highly controversial topic in the UK and a contemporary example of resource conflict between energy companies, governments and local communities.
The article “local people to get cash payments from fracking” (Boffey, 2016) aims to inform the general public about the Government’s involvement in the fracking industry and the Prime Minister Theresa Mays proposal for a wealth fund, which would transfer cash payments to households affected by the exploration sites rather than the local authority. According to Theresa May, providing people with direct economic benefits created as a result of the fracking process ensures that the ‘locals are put back in control over their lives.’ The article highlights key themes of power, the government is able to control their own interactions with the environment and the interaction of other actors, in this case permitting the planning permission for fracking companies and controlling the public access to funding and resources are both examples of material power. (Bryant, 1997)
Whilst it is positive that the Government is addressing the local community and acknowledging some of the issues surrounding the conflict of interest and the distribution of benefits. I feel that this method is being used as a bribe in attempt to weaken opposing arguments put forward by members of the public and is an example of both political and media discourse, often used by governments in attempt to protect themselves from criticism. Numerous local protests which have taken place in opposition to fracking throughout the country highlight that a growing number of people are against the process and there exists a conflict of values over the land, between different actors ( Mitchell, 2015), which is clearly depicted in the article written by Parveen and Harvey (2016) on the fracking protest in north Yorkshire, where locals opposed the development arguing that the natural resources the land provides; clean air and water need to be protected and are of greater importance than the creation of jobs.
Whilst economic benefits may address some of the contestation surrounding fracking it is unlikely to be a permeant solution as suggested in this article. There are also many examples where the governments have failed to meet their promises which raises concern over the extent to which this fund would fulfill its claims. Even if the benefits were to prove economically feasible for the community, it fails to address the issues surrounding the negative environmental impacts and the threat the process of extraction poses to public health. If anything this fund is encouraging the further development of shale gas promoting the continual reliance on fossil fuels, instead of working towards the development of more renewable energy sources. This is counterproductive of the target to reduce greenhouse emissions and phase out fossil fuels made in the 2016 Paris climate agreement (UN, 2016) The most prominent issue surrounding fracking has been the lack of consultation with members of the public and even when the public have been consulted the co management approach has had more failure then success. I believe that it is this issue which needs to be prioritised rather than short term solutions which are often in the interest of the government and not the environment or the local people.
Boffey. D ( 2016, August 7th ) ‘Local people to get cash payments from fracking’. The guardian Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/06/fracking-local-people-payments-theresa-may
Bryant, R. L. (1997). "Beyond the impasse: The power of political ecology in Third World environmental research." Area 29(1): 5-19.
Mitchell, B. (2015). Resource and Environmental Management in Canada (Fifth. ed.) Ontario, CA: Oxford University press.
Parveen, N, Harvey, F. ( 2016, May 24th) ‘ North Yorkshire council fracking decision a declaration of war’ Retreived from: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/24/anti-fracking-activists-declare-war-north-yorkshire-ruling-kirby-misperton
United Nations Framework convention on climate change ‘ The paris Agreement’ Received from: http://unfccc.int/paris_agreement/items/9485.php