Nationally Significant Infrastructural Projects
Construction Worker, Resident and Tourist Relationships in Destination Communities
Nationally Significant Infrastructural Projects (NSIPs) are multi-billion-pound transport and energy schemes of such magnitude that they require large temporary construction workforces. They have included projects such as the Channel Tunnel, which took 20,000 workers six years to build and the world’s 447 operable nuclear power reactors. Given the growing green economy and its crucial future role, many proposed/current NSIPs are low-carbon and/or renewable energy projects (harnessing hydro, solar, wind and nuclear power). Thus, 61 nuclear reactors are under construction, with 50 others in development. However, the infrastructure required to extract, process and distribute energy can transform the host environments and, as many are situated in remote communities and tranquil landscapes reliant on tourism, energy-related NSIPs and tourism are effectively engaged in land-use conflict.
Whilst the environmental impacts of NSIPs in tourism landscapes have been researched (e.g. Frantál and Kunc, 2011), their socio-cultural impacts on communities and their sense of identity and belonging are much less understood (Nieuwenhuis & Crouch, 2017). Moreover, researchers have barely scratched the surface of the relationships between NSIP construction workforces and resident/visitor populations in these tourism communities. What evidence exists indicates significant social impacts on communities (Wilson-Morris & Owley, 2014), with an escalation of drink- and drug-related crime and prostitution. These narratives are consistently told from the resident/visitor perspective and have failed to engage the transient construction worker populations themselves; individuals who work long and arduous shifts, in polluted environments, with limited scope for rest and play, straining lifestyles, social networks and family life. The construction industry leads all global industries in worker deaths, records high levels of substance abuse and mental health issues and, together with tourism and domestic work, is the industry most linked to modern slavery (Mathieson, 2003). This project will build on the initial learnings from a tourism impact study of a proposed £20bn Nuclear Power Station on tourism communities in North Wales to cast a critical eye on the interface between mobility/precarious work research and the emergent field of tourism and energy studies (Frantál and Urbánková, 2017). Utilizing tourist and resident surveys and interviews of construction workers in North Wales and Somerset (Hinkley Point), it explores NSIP impacts on tourism economies and local communities, and worker wellbeing.
Authors: Pritchard (Leeds Beckett University), J. Finniear (Swansea University) and N. Morgan (Surrey University)
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Mathieson, K. 2003, Work, Health and Living Conditions for Construction Workers on Large-Scale Construction Projects: A Danish Study
Nieuwenhuis, M. & Crouch, D. (Eds.) 2017. The Question of Space, Rowman & Littlefield: London.
Wilson-Morris, A. & Owley, J. 2014. ‘Mitigating the Impacts of the Renewable Energy Gold Rush’, Minnesota Journal of Law, Science and Technology, Vol 15, No1
Annette is Professor of Tourism Management, having worked at Sport Wales and Visit Wales and led Cardiff Met University’s Welsh Centre for Tourism Research (2000-2017). Annette writes on tourism and equity (especially gender) and on place management and reputation.