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Understanding a collaborative approach to catchment-based water quality management in the UK: A study of the Lower River Wear Pilot

Tindale, Sophie Jade (2014) Understanding a collaborative approach to catchment-based water quality management in the UK: A study of the Lower River Wear Pilot. Masters thesis, Durham University.



In order to test a new catchment-based approach to water management, the UK’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) commissioned pilot studies in 25 river catchments across England and Wales between 2011 and 2012. A key component of the approach was to encourage stakeholders to work collaboratively at the local level to find effective ways to protect resources and help meet EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) targets. The collaborative approach to water management has been little studied in the UK and as a result the pilot schemes provide a unique opportunity to begin to characterise and evaluate their impact and role. This study explores the collaborative approach taken in the Lower River Wear Pilot in the NE of England and, using in depth interviews with participants, aims to provide a comprehensive picture of a collaborative environmental management approach by studying the processes, impacts and influences of one pilot scheme.

Data from interviews with 13 participants, which included environmental practitioners from the Environment Agency, environmental NGOs, local authorities and private companies, were supplemented with details from meeting minute documents. Analysis through coding gave an insight into the perspectives and understandings of those directly involved in the project.

Key findings reveal evidence for the presence of a collaborative approach with characteristics similar to those highlighted in previous studies. The presence of a facilitator, regular meetings, interactive forms of communication and established processes of problem and direction setting, were balanced against evidence for the underlying principles of participation, inclusion and co-production of knowledge. Overall impressions of the approach from participants were distinctly positive, based in the presence of strong working relationships, and an open and inclusive environment. Success of the approach is shown to be influenced by confident and personable leadership as well as the intermediary roles of participants in the creation of dynamic social institutions that are reactive to the environmental and social context of the project.

The significance of the research relates to its value as a case study taken from the participants’ perspective and aims to contribute valuable insights into the characteristics of collaborative approaches to environmental management in the UK and the hidden mechanisms that might influence their success.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Science
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2014
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:07 Feb 2014 12:32

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