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Social Impacts of Local Energy Developments (SLED): A case study of Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay


There is a pressing need to develop new energy infrastructure in the UK to meet low carbon targets and future energy needs/security.  But what role is played by local people in terms of consultation and input, and to what extent do they benefit from local energy infrastructure developments?  How do communities perceive and engage with private sector developers and projects, and how are local preferences balanced with national needs and commercial interests?  There is a need to better understand these issues to ensure that future private sector developments meaningfully involve the public in decision making and have positive outcomes for local people.  Broader questions are raised about what responsibility the private sector has (or should have) to engage with and benefit local communities, and about good practice for democratically engagement in decisions relating to infrastructure developments.

SLED tidal lagoon (artist's impression)

Project Overview

Primary Investigator: Dr Mark Davis
Co-Investigator: Dr Katy Wright

This research is using the proposed Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay (TLSB) renewable energy development as a case study to explore the role of communities in energy developments, and the social and economic impact of local energy infrastructure.  We are using the idea of resilience as a way to conceptually frame the impact of large-scale infrastructure developments on localities, and to explore the role of local communities, both in terms of consultation and community benefit.  A key aim is to explore the potential role of the private sector in contributing to, or undermining, local forms of resilience, and to develop insights into good practice for community involvement and community benefit.  We have also critically engaged with policy and practice in the field of community resilience, and worked to develop a model of resilience which enables engagement with the ways in which local resilience is shaped by different actors operating at different levels of analysis.

The first stage of the research involved engaging with local perceptions and understandings of the proposed development, and more broadly with the socioeconomic and historical context of the local area.  The research team interviewed local stakeholders and local residents, and carried out ethnographic research at consultation events and other relevant local activities.  The aims of stage two are to develop further the findings from the first stage, maintaining a focus on community involvement, including consultation; investment opportunities; and community benefit.  Influencing and informing policy and practice at strategic levels is a key aim of stage two and we will work towards developing a framework for assessing the social impact of energy developments, and for understanding the relationships between private energy developers and local communities.  We expect to continue to use resilience as a way of framing/representing these issues.


Resilience: The Governance of Complexity

A Leeds Salon event held in the Millennium Room of the Carriageworks Theatre on Monday 17 November 2014, 6:45pm (for 7pm start) to 8:30pm

Over the last decade ‘resilience’ appears to be the policy ‘buzzword’ of choice, alleged to be the solution to a wide and ever-growing range of policy issues. In his latest book, David Chandler is concerned with precisely these questions of resilience as a governing agenda, investigating how resilience-thinking adds new insights into how politics - both domestically and internationally - is understood to work and how problems are perceived and addressed: from educational training in schools to global ethics, and from responses to shock events and natural disasters to how resilience has been discussed in the context of international policies to promote peace and development.

But can ‘resilience’ really be the policy solution to such a wide range of problems? And how does ‘resilience-thinking’ reflect and influence and the way we understand the world, our relationship to it, and the possibilities of transformative change?


David Chandler - Professor of International Relations, University of Westminster; author of Resilience: The Governance of Complexity.


Katy Wright – Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Bauman Institute, University of Leeds.

Mark Davis - Associate Professor of Sociology, Founding Director of the Bauman Institute, University of Leeds.

Research Team

Primary Investigator (PI) Dr Mark Davis

Mark Davis is Associate Professor of Sociology, Founding Director of the Bauman Institute and also Director of Building Sustainable Societies, one of the University’s flagship Transformation Fund Projects.

Mark worked intermittently in France as an Expert Advisor to the Council of Europe from 2008 to 2011 to help to develop the first Charter of Shared Social Responsibilities, presented to Members of the European Parliament in Brussels in March 2011 and adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 22 January 2014. He also works as a consultant on conceptual and policy issues with think tanks in the UK, principally New Economics Foundation, Positive Money and Compass.

Mark's primary research focus is in the sociology of money, markets and morality as understood by Georg Simmel and Zygmunt Bauman, with a particular focus upon the social consequences of consumerism, financialization and marketization in neoliberal societies. He is interested in the capture and translation of the social world into economic interests, specifically how human freedom is reduced to market choice and how extreme levels of indebtedness is reconciled with the challenge of creating fairer, more resilient, and more sustainable societies around the world.

Mark is the author of Freedom and Consumerism: A Critique of Zygmunt Bauman’s Sociology (2008), co-editor of Bauman’s Challenge: Sociological Issues for the Twenty-First Century (2010, with Keith Tester), and editor of Liquid Sociology: Metaphor in Zygmunt Bauman’s Analysis of Modernity (2013).

Co-Investigator - Dr Katy Wright

katy.wrightKaty Wright is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Bauman Institute, University of Leeds UK. She is currently working with Mark Davis on the “Social Impacts of Local Energy Developments” (SLED) project exploring the role of local communities in energy infrastructure developments, and the impact of developments on localities.  This project uses resilience as a way to conceptually frame these issues, and considers the potential role of the private sector in contributing to, or undermining, local forms of resilience.  This project builds on her research interests in community participation and collective action, which formed the basis of her doctoral research. In particular, Katy is interested in the resources which facilitate meaningful engagement in different contexts, and the role of informal relationships in shaping modes and domains of participation. She has previously carried out research with a number of local voluntary and community organisations, as well as on projects for organisations including the Department of Health, Carers UK, Leeds Community Foundation and the Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People. Prior to joining the Bauman Institute, she has worked as a researcher at the UNESCO Centre, University of Ulster; the University of Sheffield and the CIRCLE research centre, University of Leeds.


Project Advisory Board

Tom Campbell

Dr Tom Campbell

Tom Campbell is Lecturer in Social Theory and works mainly at the intersection of Social Theory and Disability Studies. Influenced primarily by Michel Foucault, in particular his writings of the early and mid nineteen-seventies, Tom’s forthcoming monograph The History and Government of Dyslexia (Palgrave Macmillan) is a genealogical investigation of an impairment category wherein dyslexia is positioned as an event in the history of reading.  He also conducts research into the relationship between ontology and ethics in Zygmunt Bauman’s sociology with a particular emphasis on Bauman’s ‘liquid modern’ period. His work is guided by a broad interest in how social theory can inform and analysis strategies of resistance, especially strategies that are bio-political in their character. As well as theorising the linguistic turn in the capitalist economy, Tom’s interest in the SLED project is motivated by a desire to better understand if and how communities are practicing ‘resilience’ to the dominant characteristics of our times, in particular experiences of precarity, anxiety, and an increase in the haste of life.

Professor Nick Ellison

Nick Ellison is Professor of Sociology and Social Policy. Nick is interested in the impact of internet-based information on neighbourhoods, and has published books and articles on the Labour Party, citizenship, policy analysis and changing welfare states. He is Director of ‘Building Sustainable Societies’ [hyperlink to:], a new, dynamic, interdisciplinary research project within Leeds Social Sciences Institute. The project aims to develop new knowledge, analysis and policy to address the major social and economic challenges facing contemporary societies across the globe.
Dr Lucie Middlemiss

Dr Lucie Middlemiss

Lucie Middlemiss is Lecturer in Sustainability. Lucie is interested in the boundary between social and environmental issues, especially how environmental problems and policy affect people, and how people can in turn affect environmental problems. The topics included in this are sustainable consumption, sustainable communities, environmental justice and sustainability policy. Lucie’s PhD evaluated the potential for community groups to influence their members to take on sustainability practices. Further work looks at issues such as fuel poverty and the impact of schools on climate change. In recent years, Lucie has set down disciplinary roots in sociology, whilst retaining interdisciplinary interests, and so is attracted to the SLED project on a number of fronts.
Jo Orchard-Webb

Dr Jo Orchard-Webb

Jo Orchard-Webb is Research Fellow in Social Sustainability. Jo’s research focuses on the role of citizen engagement and urban governance in constructing/ obstructing social sustainability. Since completing her PhD in 2012, Jo has been working at the University of Leeds within the inter-disciplinary Building Sustainable Societies project. Her focus has been on writing papers out of the doctorate and collaborating with other project members to explore how the concept (and politics) of social sustainability might offer useful insights across the health, security, work and care research hub agendas. Jo’s interest in the SLED project emerges from the explicit political, policy and intellectual overlap between community resilience and social sustainability.