The logistics of public participation in environmental assessment

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This paper starts by investigating the rationales for public participation in environmental assessment. It is contended that access to participation may refer both to means as well as ends; thus, some advocates of citizen participation favour involvement for social and or political reasons (i.e. the participation is the end in itself). However, the value of that participation may also, as we shall see, advance quality and depth of knowledge (i.e. the participation is viewed only as a means to an end). The initial two sections, therefore, paint two broad brushstrokes: the first concerns why we should require public participation, and the second why that participation may improve the quality of our environmental assessment procedure. Further, it is then argued that the issues and problems of public participation vary across different environmental issues and also vary across different stages of the environmental assessment procedure and according to the scientific disciplines and practices involved. This paper paints the way towards an open and representative style in which communities are included in environment assessment processes as a source of new or better knowledge, as well as a contribution towards what the EU refers to as the 'horizontal participatory approach'. The paper briefly considers methodological issues concerning ways in which participation might be carried out.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-330
Number of pages15
JournalInternational journal of environment and pollution
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • citizen
  • knowledge
  • lay understanding
  • science
  • trust

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