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 Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Oxygen loss in the coastal Baltic Sea is “unprecedentedly severe”
05.07.2018 | European Geosciences Union

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: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>