Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Companies must take early action to tackle opencast health fears

24.10.2003


Opencast mining companies seeking permission for new sites should tackle parents’ fears about their children’s health as early as possible, new research suggests.

A new study, by the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, published in the current edition of the academic journal, Social Science and Medicine (1), indicates that residents are likely to oppose new proposals for opencast mines, even if communities surrounding existing sites have had positive experiences.

Merely turning up at public meetings with the intention of winning over protestors is not sufficient for companies to build a good name within a community, say the Newcastle University researchers. Opencast businesses need to develop far-reaching public relations strategies in order to minimise time consuming, and, sometimes, costly confrontations with residents.



The findings will prove significant for opencast businesses throughout the UK that are seeking planning permission to build new sites or expand existing ones.

Opencast mining generally takes place in former deep coal mining areas, on derelict slag heaps or agricultural land. According to recent statistics, it provides almost half of UK coal.

The Newcastle University team, from the School of Population and Health Sciences, drew its conclusions from research carried out in four opencast mining areas in North East England. These are Amble in Northumberland, Great Lumley, and Evenwood and Ramshaw, in County Durham, and Herrington in Wearside.

They questioned a cross-section of parents from all four communities about their health and environmental risk perceptions in relation to the mines.

They found that, although many parents were initially concerned about risks to their children’s respiratory health from air pollution, many of their worries were not realised. In fact, a separate study of children’s health carried out in the same localities showed that there were no links between dust levels from the mine and asthma, although GPs saw an larger number of children for respiratory consultations.

However, many parents had spoken of their anxieties during the planning stage but felt they had been fobbed off by the opencast companies. Families were given official evidence from existing sites which showed there were no links with childhood asthma, but they did not trust the statistics and continued to be concerned. Mainly, they wanted to know how their proposed site would specifically affect their locality.

Interviews also revealed that families did not view the results from the health study of their communities as sufficient evidence with which to reassure people from elsewhere.

This suggested, say the Newcastle University researchers, that proposals for new opencast mines are always likely to be opposed by locals who will treat companies with suspicion until they are proved wrong. It is therefore in the companies’ interest to act early on to allay residents’ fears.

Several companies have already demonstrated good practice in community public relations, say the researchers. Some set up community liaison groups at the planning stage. Another installed a monitor that measured dust levels in the atmosphere - residents were encouraged to ring a hotline when readings gave cause for concern. Another company provided play equipment for the local school.

Dr Suzanne Moffatt, of Newcastle University’s School of Population and Health Sciences, who carried out the research, said:

“People naturally fear the worst when something like a big opencast mining company comes along and threatens to drastically alter their environment, and they expect their worries to be taken seriously.

“Evidence from other areas does not usually take account of specific local or individual factors which can, as people likely reason, make all the difference.”

Dr Tanja Pless-Mulloli, a research collaborator, also from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, added: “We’re not saying that people can be easily bought. However, many companies can spend up to 20 years working in a locality, so building good relationships with residents is in their interest. They may get a slightly easier life as a result.”

Suzanne Moffatt | alfa
Further information:
http://www.alphagalileo.org/nontextfiles/P_5755_15762_1.pdf

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft

nachricht Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

Im Focus: Silencing bacteria

HZI researchers pave the way for new agents that render hospital pathogens mute

Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...

Im Focus: Artificial Enzymes for Hydrogen Conversion

Scientists from the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion report in the first issue of the new journal JOULE.

Cell Press has just released the first issue of Joule, a new journal dedicated to sustainable energy research. In this issue James Birrell, Olaf Rüdiger,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

New quantum phenomena in graphene superlattices

19.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A simple additive to improve film quality

19.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>