Latest News

Shale gas dialogue project cited as benchmark for future public engagement

[Return to previous page]

A recent paper ('Framing 'fracking': Exploring public perceptions of hydraulic fracturing in the United Kingdom', in Public Understanding of Science, 1-17, 2015, by Laurence Williams, Phil Macnaghten, Richard Davies and Sarah Curtis) in the Public Understanding of Science journal (June 2015), by authors including Phil Macnaghten, cites the recent Sciencewise-supported shale gas dialogue project run by DECC.

The article reports on the academics' new deliberative work with groups of the public and points out the need for "a broadening and deepening of debate, including the need to involve public opinions and criticism in policy development". It goes on to say:

"Early steps towards this broadening and deepening of debate in the UK context are emerging with a recent UK Government Sciencewise-funded set of public dialogue workshops reporting some issues similar to this paper, in particular the perception that decisions appeared to have been taken without a clear evidence base of risks and benefits, the perception that decisions were being taken without adequate public consultation, and a lack of confidence in decision-making bodies and their ability to act in the face of perceived vested interests (TNS BMRB 2014)."

The reference to TBS BMRB is the final report of the Sciencewise-supported public dialogue. As the DES for the project, Steve Robinson, has said

"It is very detailed and provides good evidence that Sciencewise-type dialogic approaches can reinforce / provide congruent findings to extensive academic research into such matters" (14 July 2015).

The same article also draws on definitions from, and cites several times, the Sciencewise-commissioned and funded paper 'Which Publics?' by Alison Mohr and others from Nottingham University. Alison Mohr's paper is used to identify different publics as 'latent' and 'campaigning' publics, and quoted as suggesting "that good governance 'requires a policy-process that is open to challenge and improvement from a broader range of inputs'".

See related project page: Public engagement in shale gas and oil developments