My research will critique the topical and contentious matter of the development of fracking in the UK in relation to sustainable development policy. Planning is uniquely placed in combining hard and soft law with the individual judgement of the decision-maker and acting in the public interest - bringing values to bear. The regulatory sphere within which fracking is set is framed itself by consistent and strong UK Government support since 2010. Taking up the lens of sustainable development provides a view of the development of the regulation of fracking through qualitative analysis of the concrete outcome of achievements in terms of case studies as compared with the abstract concepts set out in law and policy.
The following questions have been chosen as the key research questions: To what extent and how do existing governance arrangements achieve the sustainable development of unconventional fossil fuels in the UK? How is sustainable development defined in UK law and policy as relevant to unconventional fossil fuels? Are there gaps in the provision on sustainable development? Is there a need for reform? What are the solutions?
The question is to what extent and how these unconventional fossil fuels fit within the frame of achieving sustainable development, a legal and policy commitment enshrined in numerous international, national and local governance structures. Examining specific decisions will identify which definitions and interpretations are dominant, whether there are connections between the dominant definitions and particular actors, and how far hard and soft law harmonise the achievement of sustainable development. Critiquing the legal ‘nature’ (or enforceability) of sustainable development will allow for the identification of new and substantive proposals for improving the achievement of sustainable development in relation to the extraction of unconventional fossil fuels in particular.
Source of Funding: Scholarship from College of Arts and Law.
PhD supervisor: Professor Elen Stokes (Cardiff University).