Exploring Strategic environmental assessment and public participation tools.

The MiSt Programme

The aim is to strengthen municipal decision making by applying, evaluating and developing tools for strategic environmental assessment (SEA) in energy planning. Tools, such as LCA and scenario analysis, and novel tools for public participation are explored.

Law which mandates environmental assessment of both energy and waste plans regulates Swedish municipal energy and waste management planning. Recent studies show that energy plans often lack detail in their environmental assessments and that opportunities for strategic environmental assessments are not fully explored. The effectiveness of the energy planning process can be questioned for several reasons. First, the integration between energy planning and other planning in the municipalities is often weak; second, the degree of public participation in the planning is low as plans are most often made by experts; and third, goals are often vaguely stated.

The project is carried out as an exploratory application of a framework for SEA and new mechanisms for public participation in municipal energy planning. Co-operation has started with the Finspång municipality, which is initiating an energy planning process. The framework for SEA contains several linked methods such as scenario techniques, qualitative analyses, LCA, risk assessment, and evaluation methods. Parts of this framework will be applied in the planning process, the first step being an evaluation of the applicability of different analytic tools. Also, at least one deliberative tool for public participation will be applied and evaluated. This part is inspired by the work of Habermas and starts from an evaluation model originating in his description of the discourse as a rational and ideal democratic dialogue.

This project uses both the "legislation" and the "public participation" perspectives. It is expected to contribute knowledge on the effectiveness of several tools used in a real planning process. The overall goals are common with the project "Better environmental decisions in the energy and waste sectors" and it is performed in close co-operation also with the project "Scenario methods in strategic environmental assessment".

The results will be published in international scientific papers and conferences. Continuous dissemination of results will also occur through the co-operation with municipal representatives. Parts of three doctoral theses will contain results from this project.

Practical results are expected to be valuable for municipalities in their development of planning processes. Decision makers on a regional level may also use the results as energy systems, in particular those utilising biofuels and waste, often have regional implications. This in turn affect decisions made in local and regional enterprises in the energy sector. In the long run, the development of tools is expected to contribute to the fulfilment of national environmental goals.

Project leader: Anders Mårtensson, IKP/Environmental Technology and Management, University of Linköping, Anders.Martensson@ikp.liu.se Other researchers: Associate prof. Göran Finnveden, Royal Institute of Technology, Dr Hans Wiklund, Jönköping International Business School

 

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