1. bookVolume 27 (2019): Issue 2 (June 2019)
Journal Details
First Published
30 Jul 2013
Publication timeframe
4 times per year
access type Open Access

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

Published Online: 09 Jul 2019
Page range: 92 - 107
Received: 20 May 2019
Accepted: 25 Jun 2019
Journal Details
First Published
30 Jul 2013
Publication timeframe
4 times per year

Despite extensive social science research into public perceptions and social responses to fracking, scholars have only begun to examine the relationship between distance to development and support or opposition for it. Importantly, the emerging studies are exclusively from the United States, and focus on communities and regions in which fracking already exists – in contrast to areas where it is proposed and still going through planning approvals. This paper reports public responses to proposed fracking in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. A total of 120 people participated in an in-person survey with a qualitative follow-up in four locations: the village right next to the development site, two other villages just inside and just outside 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.


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