The United Kingdom: Public Debate and the Management of Petroleum Resources
Two important obstacles to the influence of public debate over the management of the UK’s oil and gas resources have been its offshore nature and the specialized nature of petroleum policy, both of which tend to create distance between civil society and the petroleum sector. This chapter argues that a powerful business lobby has had most influence over public debate and policy development, eclipsing even the political parties, which since the 1960s have provided only sporadic proactive leadership on petroleum policy. The impact of the business lobby is illustrated by the fact that the UK’s effective tax rate, particularly following policy changes in the early 1990s, is lower than those of its North Sea neighbours Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway. The influence of trade unions has been restricted in Britain’s anti-trade union offshore environment, while NGOs have been vocal on single issues, notably fracking in recent years, but without consistent longer-term impact. Similarly, the academic debate has been loud on some policy issues but has also been compromised by the business lobby.
KeywordsUK Natural resources Oil Gas Petroleum governance Civil society Shale gas Fracking Offshore Scotland Parliament Tax Thatcher Trade unions Lobbying
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