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About this book

This innovative introduction to environmental planning is designed for an international readership. Each of the book's chapters focuses on a key question in environmental planning and works through principles which are appropriate in any national context. Case studies from around the world show how the principles apply in practice.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introducing Environmental Planning

Abstract
The environment is in a constant state of flux: from frequent local changes to global scale variations between glacial ages. As nature operates continuously in this manner, and on such far-reaching geological timeframes, it can seem almost ahistoric, set apart from the ordinary rhythms of daily life. This sweeping scope and self-renewing character can influence perceptions concerning the extent of humanity’s ability to enact significant environmental change in the pursuit of short-term economic and social benefit. Yet, pick up any newspaper or watch any news channel and there is a good chance there will be a story connected with the environment, many of them framed in negative or even catastrophic terms. Shrinking ice caps, biodiversity loss or devastating floods serve to remind us that humanity can be both subject to powerful natural events and exert its own potent forces in return. Using land and resources modifies the environment, but the relationship is not just in one direction. This process changes perceptions of the natural environment and can impact upon societies more generally, from the value of goods or services to the loss of lives and livelihoods. An awareness of this cyclical relationship is at the heart of managing the environment: we affect nature just as it affects us.
Iain White

Chapter 2. The Intellectual Legacies

Abstract
This chapter provides a deeper insight into how the environment has been understood and engaged with over space and time. It does this for a number of reasons. First, while it may be tempting to pigeonhole this part of the book as the ‘history’ section, I’d urge you to resist this. As the opening quote emphasizes, while a number of aspects will inevitably have a museum-like quality, others will contain underlying truths still whispered on the breeze that serve to shed light on current problems. The primacy of science, the dualistic separation of human and natural environments, and the engagement with technological solutions all have their roots in history; critically, therefore, this chapter will help to foster a more sophisticated understanding of contemporary environmental issues, many of which have a legacy that stems from long-standing worldviews and frames of reference.
Iain White

Chapter 3. Governance and Power

Abstract
The French president, Charles de Gaulle, was reputed to have made the now infamous opening observation when discussing the travails of attaining unity within his native country. His references to the individuality and variety of something as mundane as cheesemaking was designed to draw parallels with the more combative and heterogeneous political landscape, within which a variety of political stances, agencies and actors can all hamper the efforts of the state to govern and wield power effectively. The broad societal issues discussed in this chapter are important, as essentially they serve to frame environmental planning, setting aspects such as the content and tone of debate, and the relationships and responsibilities of key stakeholders. It provides more than the background mood music, however, as the chapter also sheds light on how and why some environmental issues are addressed, and the differing means by which influence can be exerted.
Iain White

Chapter 4. Politics and the Media

Abstract
The above quotation by French polymath Paul Valéry was cited by Keynes (1933) in an essay on the rapid protectionist trend towards economic nationalism and national self-sufficiency between the two world wars, the speed of which he thought could damage economic growth. Valéry and Keynes both essentially highlight the prevalence of politics as being inherently dominated by the now — a short-termism that might not mesh well with the longer time horizons of many environmental concerns and approaches, most notably that of sustainability, biodiversity loss or climate change. However, the relationship between humanity and resources ensures that politics, a term that covers the way that decisions are made in society, and political discourse more generally, is vital in determining environmental planning.
Iain White

Chapter 5. Framing Concepts

Abstract
Concepts are not neutral devices. They hold power by framing debates and have inherent logics that steer intervention down certain pathways. And, as the quotation above highlights, readers should be aware of the power inherent in any direction of travel and the relationship to the political arena. While there may be a tendency within environmental planning to focus on the specifics of a policy, or to monitor the implementation of any law, taking a step back from procedural or regulatory perspectives to consider the concepts in play can encourage some very interesting discussions — and ones that can lend a real depth to analysis. Indeed, the defining of any environmental issue or argument, that most basic activity that is frequently passed over in favour of more substantial matters, is enormously powerful. It possesses the potential to affect a host of factors that can subsequently frame the debate: from who should be involved in discussions, to what priority should be afforded to the issue, to shaping any future strategy for intervention.
Iain White

Chapter 6. The Role of Science

Abstract
Science is traditionally regarded as an essential component in enabling effective environmental planning. Yet the integration of science into the practice of environmental planning is far from smooth or unproblematic. This can often be conceived as ignorance on the part of planners; the pioneering landscape architect, Ian McHarg, observed as much in the opening quote above. However, the way that science is conducted and compiled can also play a role in enabling or inhibiting its translation into the arenas of policy and practice. This chapter will investigate these issues and show that ‘science’ cannot be brought straightforwardly to the planning process, since science and planning constitute different types of knowledge about the world — both equally valid — that need to be acknowledged and integrated. This chapter is positioned within an interdisciplinary perspective that aims to highlight the importance of scientific literacy — the knowledge of science as a process to inform environmental planning. By understanding how ‘science’ works, particularly its methods and limitations, among other factors we can shed light on why some problems are solved instead of others, or how data can struggle to prove causal effects. What is particularly illuminating to understand is how the scientific approach is inherently riddled with doubt, a factor that may be anathema to politicians or decision-makers whose culture is based on certainty. If we hold that science is one of the fundamental building blocks of environmental planning, these issues need to be engaged with actively if we are to make intelligent and sensitive environmental interventions.
Iain White

Chapter 7. Policy and Regulation

Abstract
Building on the discussion of concepts and science, we now turn our attention to the way in which science is used in policy, and specifically in environmental planning. In contrast to the discussion in the previous chapter, planning is less constrained by questions of subjectivity or doubt. It is designed explicitly to operate within the political, moral and ethical spheres, and is inherently ridden with competing priorities and contested interpretations. It is also an area that is strategic, future-oriented, and makes plans and policies that have some degree of foresight, whether that is 5, 20 or 50 years in the future. As Rydin states in the opening quotation above, this should serve as a reminder that designing planning policies allow us act despite any uncertainties: there is both a mandate and a requirement to intervene.
Iain White

Chapter 8. Decision Support Tools

Abstract
While concepts, science and policy all influence the sphere of environmental planning, we now turn our attention to the practical issues that emerge from these more fundamental aspects: the matter of making decisions. We know that there will always be economic pressure to develop land and use resources, and that environmental issues seem to be becoming ever more complex, uncertain and contested. We also know that impacts may be transboundary in nature and can affect people and groups in indirect ways. The challenge is to ensure that under these difficult conditions the decision-making process is as robust and informed as possible and can incorporate a wide range of concerns adequately. In response, a range of decision support tools (DSTs) have been developed that have the potential to provide clarity, integrate data and identify various managerial options.
Iain White

Chapter 9. Engaging with Stakeholders

Abstract
The opening quote is from An Enemy of the People, a play by the influential Norwegian playwright, Henrik Johan Ibsen (1828–1906). It can be read as containing fears about democracy, or more specifically where decisions may suffer from ‘the tyranny of the majority’ (Tocqueville, 2003 [1835]). The main protagonist in the play, Dr Stockmann, has discovered that a nearby tannery is polluting the town’s public baths, making them unsafe to use. Yet because of the financial benefit of the facility to the community there is resistance and even disbelief in his findings. Despite his strong moral conviction that he is in the right it makes him deeply unpopular and leads him to be labelled: ‘an enemy of the people’.
Iain White

Chapter 10. The Question of Justice

Abstract
Previous chapters have paved the way for our discussion of justice. Environmental planning is concerned centrally with balancing demands, and turning our attention towards justice will help to widen our appreciation of the consequences of the eventual decisions. As the opening quote by Eckersley highlights, this is connected to resource distribution and so raises questions about who wins and who loses, or who is involved (or not) in making such decisions. It therefore brings injustice into view. Campbell and Marshall (2006: 240) explain further: ‘We regard planning as an activity which is concerned with making choices about good and bad, right and wrong, with and for others, in relation to particular places. It is about making ethical choices over issues which are often highly contested. Planning is therefore profoundly concerned with justice.’
Iain White

Chapter 11. Conclusion

Abstract
Initially, the area of environmental planning seems to be a very practical subject: one concerned with designation, regulation or consents, and where there is a series of resources or processes that needs to be managed. This is an instrumental view, which fits well if, for example, we understand the purpose of politics and policy to be organizing activities similarly concerned with the control and distribution of resources. But when one delves deeper into the broad area of environmental planning it quickly becomes apparent that this perception is not just inaccurate, but may actually serve to underpin many of the ‘environmental problems’ present in contemporary societies. As the opening quote from Giddens illustrates, not only are issues rooted in culture and society, but their categorization as a concern is itself a construct. Inevitably, some will capture the public imagination while others appear more marginal or do not link well to self-interest arguments where environmental planning can be framed as a means of improving our own lives or those of future generations. Critically, this is not always connected to the magnitude of an issue; rather, to a host of wider aspects such as their ease of identification, public profile, possible impact on powerful lobby groups or the costs of management. Reflecting on these factors also highlights why certain concerns remain stubbornly unaddressed. From this perspective, environmental planning, politics and policy are much more than a mere contest over space or resources; they are opportunities to reconsider the connectivity between human and natural systems.
Iain White
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