Monday, 21 August 2017

Industrial pollution, spatial stigma and economic decline: the case of Asopos river basin through the lens of local small business owners

Industrial wastewater polluting Asopos river

This paper explores the notion of environmentally induced spatial stigma through an analysis of data from interviews across public attitudes to pollution within the Asopos river basin in central Greece. The area has a 40 year plus history of legal and illicit industrial waste disposal and public debate on the associated environmental degradation. The study focuses on the perceptions and beliefs of a sector of the community likely to be directly and negatively affected by stigma, that is small business owners in the tourism and hospitality sector. The qualitative analysis explores awareness and viewpoints on environmental degradation and water quality within the local context, implications for the local economy and the individual's own enterprise, views on industrial environmental management as well as corporate responsibility and future prospects for the environmental problems of Asopos. Findings reveal a noticeable variation in views on industrial pollution and ecosystem deterioration among the respondents, but overall a strong environmentally induced stigmatization of the area. They also uncover an information asymmetry and lack of credible commitment by government bodies and industry members in disclosing accurate information, a situation likely to increase speculation and uncertainty within the community. The paper concludes by addressing implications of the findings to policy-making and managerial considerations, along with future research perspectives which aim to increase considerations of sustainability aspects for local development. © 2016 Newcastle University.
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