SAS academic to investigate the impacts of fracking

Tuesday 26 June 2018

Dr Damien Short, director of the Human Rights Consortium (HRC) at the School of Advanced Study, is part of an ambitious research project that will investigate the facts behind a controversial issue – fracking (hydraulic fracturing). The project will examine the environmental and socio-economic impacts of this gas extraction process in the UK.

Funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC), ‘Unconventional Hydrocarbons in the UK Energy System’ brings together leading scientists, engineers and academics. Their task is to provide independent, scientific and evidence-based understanding of the extraction of unconventional hydrocarbons – the fracking process.

The holistic project will address five key challenges: the evolving shale gas landscape; shale resource potential in the UK; transportation of the shale gas from reservoir to surface; contamination pathways; socio-economic impacts.

Dr Short, one of the co-investigators on a winning ‘Challenge 5’ bid ‘The social construction of unconventional gas extraction’, says they aim to provide communities, statutory organisations, and policymakers with relevant information that will stimulate a more informed and thoughtful public conversation about the benefits and burdens of fracking. Led by Professor Paul Stretesky at Northumbria University, it is one of seven multi-institution consortium projects about to commence (August 2018) and which will last two and a half years.

‘While hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, may benefit the extraction industry, it may also create negative outcomes in those communities where extraction takes place. The social, economic and environmental impacts need detailed evidence based investigation.’ explains Dr Short, who carried out the first human rights impact assessment of fracking in the UK.

In 2015, he was an expert witness at the Lancashire Development Control Committee for the Preston New Road and Rosacre Wood hydraulic fracturing applications.


Notes to Editors:

  1. For further information, please contact: Maureen McTaggart, Media and Public Relations Officer, School of Advanced Study, University of London +44 (0)20 7862 8653  /
  2. The Human Rights Consortium, founded in 2009, brings together the multidisciplinary expertise in human rights found in several institutes of the School of Advanced Study, as well as collaborating with individuals and organisations with an interest in the subject. Its main aim is to facilitate, promote and disseminate academic and policy work on human rights by holding conferences and seminars, hosting visiting fellows, coordinating the publication of high quality work in the field, and establishing a network of human rights researchers, policymakers and practitioners across the UK and internationally, with a view to collaborating on a range of activities.
  3. The School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London, is the UK’s national centre for the promotion and support of research in the humanities. SAS and its member institutes offer unparalleled resources, facilities and academic opportunities across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. Last year SAS welcomed 786 research fellows and associates, held 2,007 events highlighting the latest research in the humanities, received 24.4 million online visits to its research resources and platforms, and hosted 194,145 visits to its specialist libraries and collections. The School also leads Being Human, the UK’s only nationwide festival of the humanities. Find out more at or follow SAS on Twitter at @SASNews.
  4. The University of London is a federal university and is one of the oldest, largest and most diverse universities in the UK. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the university is recognised globally as a world leader in higher education. Its members are 18 self-governing institutions of outstanding reputation, and nine research institutes. Learn more about the University of London at