Living with nuclear power: Sense of place, proximity, and risk perceptions in local host communities

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Publication details

JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
DateE-pub ahead of print - 3 Jul 2012
DatePublished (current) - Dec 2012
Issue number4
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)371-383
Early online date3/07/12
Original languageEnglish


Previous research notes that sense of place may intensify, and that levels of public risk perception may decrease with proximity to an established hazardous or stigmatised site. In addition, the literature suggests that sense of place may act either to mediate or moderate community perceptions of risk in such localities. This study comprised a major household survey (n = 1326) and an interview study (n = 39) and was conducted close to the nuclear power stations at Oldbury and Hinkley Point, both in the UK. It investigated the roles of perceptions of place and hazard proximity in considering (a) perceptions of risk and (b) public attitudes towards the building of a new nuclear power station in the nearby area. In addition, a novel scale was developed to measure the perceived contribution of the nearby nuclear power station to sense of place. The results suggest first, that sense of place mediates (but does not moderate) perceptions of risk in very proximate communities, and second, that public attitudes to new build in communities situated very close to established nuclear sites may be largely dependent on the extent to which the existing facility is perceived to contribute towards sense of place. The implications of these results for existing theory are discussed.

    Research areas

  • Nuclear power, Proximity, Risk, Sense of place


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