Research Report

Briefing 3: Shale Gas Governance: devolution and localism



Cotton M, Gonzalez A & Dickie J (2021) Briefing 3: Shale Gas Governance: devolution and localism. ESRC.

Introduction: This briefing note discusses the issue of unconventional hydrocarbon exploration and development (hereafter UHED) as an issue of governance and political scale – concerning the levels of government, decision-making powers and responsibilities surrounding shale gas policy and planning in the UK. The shale gas challenge in the UK, as is common with many other environmental and energy policy challenges, involves the negotiation of different interests across multiple sectors of society in order to achieve policy success. Understanding the different scales of decision-making (see Box 1 for discussion of core terms) is important for effective environmental governance because many different parties and interests must negotiate a politically acceptable form of action, and each represents a different jurisdiction/constituency/network, and so on. A different type of management at one scale may bring about unforeseen changes at another. An understanding of scale is therefore important when tackling an issue like UHED in order to avoid overly simplistic “onesize- fits-all” recommendations (Ostrom, 2009) that lead to policy failure, social unrest, and distrust in decision-making institutions. In this briefing paper UHED is approached as a scale problem in two ways – the first is on a temporal scale (across time periods), in a manner that complements the briefing note of Williams et al. (2020), showing the different approaches adopted by government authorities and the critical points at which these changed. The second, is the governance scale considered here at two levels – first relating to the relationship between the UK Government and Devolved Administrations, and the second between UK Government policy and local/regional tiers of government through the localist policy agenda espoused by the Coalition and subsequent Conservative governments

FundersNERC Natural Environment Research Council
Publication date31/05/2021
Publication date online31/05/2021
Publisher URL…d%20Localism.pdf

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Dr Jennifer Dickie

Dr Jennifer Dickie

Senior Lecturer, Biological and Environmental Sciences

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