Professor Watterson, Head of the Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group, said: “Our study looked at how environmental justice and ethics are considered in decisions around shale gas development, which has been shown to adversely affect air quality and contribute to climate change.
“The findings reveal that decision-making by the UK Government and several of its advisory groups marginalised or ignored the ethical and environmental justice consequences – and, hence, the public health ramifications – of permitting the shale gas industry.
“We found that science was frequently ignored and industry was able to influence decision-making within a political, legal and planning framework in England, to the detriment of public health.”
The team analysed science on air pollution and shale gas linked to a range of adverse public health indicators, industry, planning and key concepts of ethical decision-making and environmental justice. It included the analysis of official government, regulatory and planning documents, as well as industry and scientific publications, and benchmarking against the science and ethical and environmental justice criteria.
Dr Dinan, an expert on political communication and the mediation of environmental and public health issues, said: “Aside from the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change is the biggest issue facing the world and requires urgent action.
“Government, legal and planning decisions around climate change and air pollution is of the greatest importance to society. Local communities, governments, policymakers, civil servants, non-governmental organisations, and the sustainable energy industries may all benefit from the results of our research.
“Any new policies should ensure that there are ethical approaches to proposed shale exploration and environmental justice concerns must be incorporated into planning and decision making.”