Abstract 07JSSP012024

Exploring the Process and Perceptions of Noise Conflicts Related to a Geothermal Project. A Case Study of Szeged, Hungary

Fruzsina ENYEDI*1, György VIDA2, Gergely BOGDÁN3, Viktor PÁL4
* Corresponding author
1 University of Szeged, Department of Economic and Social Geography, Doctoral School of Geosciences, Szeged, HUNGARY
2 University of Szeged, Institute of Economics and Economic Development, Szeged, HUNGARY
3 HÉTFA Research Institute and Center for Economic and Social Analysis, Budapest, HUNGARY
4 University of Szeged, Department of Economic and Social Geography, Szeged, HUNGARY
: enyedi.fruzsina94@gmail.com; ORCID: 0000-0002-6413-5903
: vida.gyorgy@szte.hu; ORCID: 0000-0003-0526-1384
: bogdangergely@hetfa.hu; ORCID: 0009-0004-7080-1898
: pal.viktor@geo.u-szeged.hu; ORCID: 0000-0002-5558-7641   
: 77-88. DOI: 10.24193/JSSP.2024.1.07
: 04 January 2024
Received in revised form
: 12 May 2024
Accepted for publication
: 25 June 2024
Available online
: 30 June 2024

Cite: Enyedi F., Vida G., Bogdán G., Pál V. (2024), Exploring the Process and Perceptions of Noise Conflicts Related to a Geothermal Project. A Case Study of Szeged, Hungary. Journal of Settlements and Spatial Planning, 15(1), 77-88. DOI: 10.24193/JSSP.2024.1.07

Abstract. The use of renewable energy, including geothermal energy, is essential. Hungary stands out for its remarkable geothermal potential. However, these investments often lead to noise pollution, causing social conflicts between the local population and developers. This research presents a case study of a geothermal district heating renovation project in Szeged, Hungary. The study explores public perceptions and social conflicts related to the geothermal heating renovation, focusing on noise impacts. Local media articles reflect public perspectives, while opinions of key stakeholders (politicians, service providers) offer a broader view of geothermal drilling and its noise impacts. The study examines Szeged residents’ knowledge about the ongoing drilling, its benefits, and the conflicts it entails, particularly noise pollution. The empirical survey employs both quantitative and qualitative methods, including a questionnaire survey and online media analysis. Results show that the public lacks sufficient information about geothermal drilling and its noise impact, whilst online media coverage is unclear. Residents often confuse it with other developments, which neither media experts nor the project owner adequately clarify. Survey respondents provided a complex interpretation of noise impacts, mostly accepting the project but questioning why it was in their immediate neighbourhood and why drilling occurred at night. Inconsistent information emerged as a main problem, revealed through content analysis and compared with questionnaire results, highlighting a general issue of unawareness. Media analysis showed opportunities for public comment and consultation, but communication was often unsuccessful due to local residents’ lack of interest. Project organizers attempted to provide information through various platforms, but local media often lacked clear information, causing confusion between past and current geothermal projects and a lack of understanding of the development’s reasons and site selection criteria. Overall, there was a willingness to understand the problems associated with drilling, but this was only partially achieved due to inadequate communication.

K e y w o r d s: geothermal energy, urban noise pollution, social conflict, environmental justice, urban development