Citation Watterson A & Dinan W (2016) Health Impact Assessments, Regulation, and the Unconventional Gas Industry in the UK: Exploiting Resources, Ideology, and Expertise?. New Solutions, 25 (4), pp. 480-512. https://doi.org/10.1177/1048291115615074
Abstract Health impact assessments (HIAs) across the globe may be used by governments and industries to secure approval for unconventional gas extraction developments. HIA is an umbrella term that covers an array of health review and assessment practices, ranging from the very general to quite specific and technical health studies. Our concern in this paper is principally with the specialist end of the HIA continuum and particularly its application to unconventional gas extraction in the UK. We outline the context within which HIAs in unconventional gas extraction may be conducted. We then explain what HIAs may do. HIAs are often commissioned from consultancy companies to assess unconventional gas extraction project risks and benefits and propose mitigation measures. Communities can rarely afford HIAs in the planning process and may consider them biased when commissioned by vested interests. The oil and gas industry uses these techniques for its own ends. Hiring experts, be they specialist consultants, researchers, lobbyists, ex-government officials, or regulators, to influence planning and regulation is a well-tried tactic and structural advantage exploited by industry in seeking license to operate. Equitable and ethical HIA principles are urgently needed in the UK in relation to unconventional gas to secure the integrity and probity of the emerging regulatory system and address concerns regarding unregulated practitioners.
Keywords health impact assessments; unconventional gas extraction; public health; regulation