The Scaling of Power in West Cumbria and the Role of the Nuclear Industry

Haraldsen, Stephen orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-2071-1737 (2018) The Scaling of Power in West Cumbria and the Role of the Nuclear Industry. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This thesis explores the relationship between a global industrial actor and its regional host, and what that can tell us about neoliberalism and globalisation. The relationship between the nuclear industry, in particular the Sellafield site, and the West Cumbrian region where it is located is the specific focus for the data collection and analysis. West Cumbria is an isolated region in the very north-west corner of England. West Cumbria was the site of the UK’s first nuclear reactors. Over seven decades, as other industries have declined, West Cumbria has become home to, and economically dependent on, one of the largest and most complex nuclear sites in the world.
The core concepts employed to analyse this relationship are power and scale. In particular, this thesis analyses how power is rescaled in the context of state restructuring and the wider changes associated with globalisation. To be able to analyse power it was necessary to develop an applied understanding of the concept. This is informed by a diverse literature, and takes an implicitly geographical and relational understanding of the exercise of power in its diverse forms, bases and uses. Firstly, policy documentation is analysed to understand the impact of the changes to the governance and management of the UK’s oldest and most hazardous nuclear sites. Secondly, survey and focus group data is analysed which focusses on the position of the nuclear industry in the local economy and specific changes made as a result of the part-privatisation of the industry in 2008. Finally, an analysis of economic development plans which aim to grow West Cumbria’s economy, and demonstrate an increasing priority being given to new nuclear developments. Finally, these three areas are brought together to explore how power is rescaled, its implications and the wider relevance of the thesis to other locations and policy areas.

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