The regulation of risk: the case of fracking in the UK and the Netherlands

Alan Patterson*, Craig McLean*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


The precautionary principle was developed in environmental politics as a guiding mechanism for governments where new technologies, products, and processes produced potential health or environmental problems but where scientific evidence could not explain why. Anecdotal evidence of fracking suggests that it might cause water pollution or subsidence, but the scientific evidence to support this proposition is not yet in place. This paper examines the actions of the UK and Dutch governments toward fracking. Although both governments have adopted the precautionary principle into national law, neither has directly invoked it in the field of fracking, relying instead on more conventional scientific understandings of risk. In line with other papers in Science and Public Policy, this article provides a comparative analytical analysis of scientific policy regulation. It does so by arguing that while notionally subscribed to the precautionary principle, the UK and Dutch authorities have been reluctant to use it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-52
Number of pages8
JournalScience and Public Policy
Issue number1
Early online date20 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


Dive into the research topics of 'The regulation of risk: the case of fracking in the UK and the Netherlands'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this