The Governments of the constituent parts of the UK have, in recent years, considered promoting the exploitation of UK shale formations via fracking in order to recover oil and gas. In all jurisdictions, this has been met with opposition groups citing environmental risks. Various groups have called for either an outright ban on this process or for regulatory reform to address specific concerns. In Scotland, this led to an impasse, with the Scottish Government eventually announcing an "effective ban" on fracking in October 2017 following an extensive period of moratorium and public consultation. In announcing its ban on fracking, the Scottish Government cited a lack of "social licence" for the activity, despite expert evidence that the activity could be safely regulated. As the social licence is commonly conceived of as non-legal, the Scottish Government's reliance upon the concept as part of its rationale for banning fracking merits legal analysis. Accordingly, the research considers the relationship between the social licence concept and law in the context of the Scottish fracking debate. Informed by the researcher's use of literal and thematic coding of academic literature as a basis for defining the social licence as an objective concept, this relationship is considered via a textual, comparative content analysis of the environmental and planning law governing onshore oil and gas authorisations in Scotland. The results of this analysis are utilised by the researcher in order to establish and evidence a new model for conceptualising the social licence as capable of acting as a tool of measuring law.
JONES, A. 2022. The relationship between the social licence and law in the context of the Scottish fracking debate: a textual, thematic and comparative analysis of environmental and planning law governing onshore oil and gas authorisations in Scotland. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis. Hosted on OpenAIR [online]. Available from: https://doi.org/10.48526/rgu-wt-1712821