Department of Business Development and Technology

Humanizing hydrocarbon frontiers: the “lived experience” of shale gas fracking in the United Kingdom’s Fylde communities

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Benjamin K. Sovacool
  • Laurence Williams, University of Sussex
  • ,
  • Abigail Martin, University of Sussex
  • ,
  • Jonn Axsen, Simon Fraser University

In this study, we explore the lived experiences of communities at the frontier of shale gas extraction in the United Kingdom. We ask: How do local people experience shale gas development? What narratives and reasoning do individuals use to explain their support, opposition or ambivalence to unconventional hydrocarbon developments? How do they understand their lived experiences changing over time, and what sorts of coping strategies do they rely upon? To do so, we draw insights from semi-structured interviews with 31 individuals in Lancashire, England, living or working near the only active shale gas extraction operation in the UK until the government moratorium was announced in December of 2019. Through these data, we identify several themes of negative experiences, including “horrendous” participation, community “abuse,” disillusionment and “disgust,” and earthquakes with the potential to “ruin” lives. We also identify themes of positive experiences emphasizing togetherness and community “gelling”, environmental “awareness,” everyday energy security with gas as a “bridging fuel,” and local employment with “high quality jobs.” Finally, we identify themes of ambivalent and temporally dynamic experiences with shale gas that move from neutral to negative regarding vehicle traffic, and neutral to positive regarding disgust with protesting behaviour and the diversion of community resources. Our study offers context to high level policy concerns and also humanizes community and resident experiences close to fracking sites.

Original languageEnglish
JournalLocal Environment: The international journal of justice and sustainability
Pages (from-to)944-966
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • hydraulic fracturing, Lived experiences, natural gas, shale gas, unconventional hydrocarbons

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