Work package 4: public perceptions (Manchester and all partners)

Task 4.1: case study analysis of analogues

We will use analogues to explore how lay populations engage with similar activities and how controversies surrounding particular projects evolve. We will focus on the use of hydraulic fracture treatments (fracking) in the production of shale gas with further material drawn from proposed underground coal gasification, coal bed methane and natural gas storage. Two earthquakes near Blackpool in spring 2011 were linked to fracking for shale gas. This well-documented case attracted significant press attention and was associated with a campaign from a variety of pressure groups formed specifically in response to this practice.

We will consider other examples of shale gas fracking and similar activity, drawn from a media search and analysis of reporting both during particular active periods and during the research project (to track where the debate stands currently). We will consider the language and dialogues used during the discourses, identify the role of key stakeholders to the debate and analyse how the analogues relate to geological CO2 storage as part of a CCS process. We will develop a framework to analyse the discourses surrounding the analogues and identify potential triggers or characteristics that may lead to conflict or controversy. To date, CCS has received only moderate attention in the UK media (Mander et al., 2012) but we will incorporate any developments or events as they arise.

Task 4.2: citizen focus groups

Guided by the analytical framework developed within Task 4.1 and bringing in scientific results from work package 1 and work package 2, we will conduct two focus groups to unpack further the key issues. For example, this may include the way in which opposition or support may be mobilised by individuals (such as gatekeepers or opinion formers), events (such as subsidence or induced seismic activity) and the role of proper site monitoring. In this way, the focus groups will provide a setting in which to explore both the wider social context and specific features of the monitoring toolbox developed across the broader project.