The Study

The research materials on which this analysis is based are drawn from a larger qualitative study which involved meeting with 53 interviewees (some interviews involved more than one person) on two occasions (total interviews, n=82) as well as visual methodologies within two case study sites (Aberthaw in South Wales and Hinkley Point in southwest England); for the purposes of this chapter we focus solely on the first interviews for one site: Hinkley Point.

Hinkley Point currently hosts two nuclear power stations (Hinkley ‘A’, which began operating in 1965 but is currently decommissioning, and ‘B’, which began generating in 1976 and has an estimated decommissioning date of 2016). It is also currently being investigated for the feasibility of hosting new nuclear power. In addition, the Severn estuary (the site for tidal energy proposals currently under consideration by the UK Government), and a wind farm (proposed in 2006 and later withdrawn) are in the case study area. These differing forms of energy production, their meaning for members of the public living in adjacent localities, contemporary policy issues of climate change and energy security, energy futures or transitions, and energy consumption formed the focus of in-depth, semi-struc­tured qualitative interviews (participants, n=26) with the local public in the surrounding villages and towns during the summer of 2009.

Each interview lasted between one and two hours. Participants were recruited utilizing a previous questionnaire sample as a basis for contact, followed by a letter inviting them to participate. Interviewees were selected using a range of criteria (including gender, age, household tenure, length of residence, and whether or not they or a member of their family work or have ever worked at the power station – which we termed ‘power station affiliation’) to ensure diversity in social character­istics.

Analytically, we adopted an approach broadly derived from the interpretive tradition, developing themes from the interview material through an iterative process moving between the transcripts, literatures and writing processes to build the analysis laid out here (Pidgeon and Henwood, 2004).

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