How distance influences dislike: Responses to proposed fracking in Fermanagh, Northern Ireland

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Abstract / Description of output

Despite extensive social science research into public perceptions and social responses to fracking, scholarshave only begun to examine the relationship between distance to development and support or opposition forit. Importantly, the emerging studies are exclusively from the United States, and focus on communities andregions in which fracking already exists – in contrast to areas where it is proposed and still going throughplanning approvals. This paper reports public responses to proposed fracking in County Fermanagh, NorthernIreland, United Kingdom. A total of 120 people participated in an in-person survey with a qualitative followup in four locations: the village right next to the development site, two other villages just inside and justoutside the wider fracking concession area, and in the capital city of Belfast, 150 km away. A clear spatial pattern of opinion was found, from almost universal opposition to fracking next to the site, to an even three way split between proponents, opponents and ‘neutrals’ to fracking in general, in Belfast. Results show that some risks are perceived to be more local than others, whilst perceived (economic) benefits are recognised mainly at the national level. Content analysis of local and national newspapers revealed a very clear and similar pattern. Connections to Fermanagh, through visits or long-term residence, were also clear predictors of opposition to fracking. The spatial pattern of support for fracking in Northern Ireland differs substantially from each of the contrasting patterns observed in the United States. We discuss likely reasons for this and implications for both research and policy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-107
JournalMoravian geographical reports
Issue number2
Early online date30 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2019


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