PhD Title - Building Social Licensing into Scottish Fracking Regulation
Principal Supervisor - Caroline Nixon
The presence of a number of shale formations in the UK has led the government to introduce initiatives that promote industrial exploitation of this resource. However, with environmental impacts a concern, many have called for reform of regulation to better control the hazards posed by this process. In Scotland, this debate has led to an impasse, with the Scottish government introducing a public consultation and indefinite moratorium on shale development. The research considers whether such an impasse can be resolved via social licensing, a concept whereby communities have equitable authority in granting permissions to the activities of industry in their area. It is proposed that the fracking divide in Scotland can be overcome via a legal formalisation of social licensing that gives voice to the concerns of communities in a meaningful, procedurally effective, and accessible manner. It is offered that reciprocal benefits exist: via social licensing, industry is empowered to redefine public perceptions via meaningful interaction with an informed public. The purpose, objectives and scope of social licensing in the context of Scottish fracking regulation will be defined, enabling qualitative research with key stakeholders in order to design a framework based upon the established desires of all involved parties.