EPRG 0912

John Ash

Another Man’s Poison:  Risk Management and Nuclear Power Generation

EPRG 0912 Non-Technical Summary | PDF

Also published in:

  • Ash, John (2011), “Another Man’s Poison:  Risk Management and Nuclear Power Generation”, Politics & Policy, Volume 39, No. 3: 317-344.

Abstract:  A projected shortfall in bulk electrical power, coupled with concerns regarding security of supply and obligations in respect of climate change, have driven the UK government to reconsider nuclear generation. Although this is superficially a political, administrative and economic decision, it is a judgement undertaken by a network of actors, and may be viewed as a process catalysed by risk. Based on primary data drawn from interviewees associated with the nuclear power decision, this research examines the role of risk perception in the decision process, and how those perceptions compound the complexity of the problem. The results indicate a common desire amongst interviewees for assurance with respect to energy supply, and a relationship between that assurance and time. These themes underline the difficulty in reaching an accommodation between rival stakeholders in the decision process; particular power sources are preferred because they mitigate the risks that most concern stakeholders. However, because individuals prioritise risks differently, a power source that mitigates risk for one stakeholder is in itself an intolerable risk for another stakeholder. The discussion concludes with an evaluation of a deliberative approach as a prospective solution to this quandary.

Keywords: Nuclear power, risk perception, decision-making, deliberative

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