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 Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?
31.05.2017 | University of Washington

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

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: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Touch Displays WAY-AX and WAY-DX by WayCon

27.06.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Drones that drive

27.06.2017 | Information Technology

Ultra-compact phase modulators based on graphene plasmons

27.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>