An economic analysis of improvements to recreation opportunities in the Grampian countryside
Arrangements within the UK to enhance recreational opportunities in the countryside are currently implemented in a somewhat ad hoc manner. The result of this is that current arrangements for recreation provision may be ineffective in terms of institutional arrangements, efficiency of spending on access enhancement and equity of benefit distribution. It is these issues which are addressed in this thesis. To analyse the effectiveness of recreation provision, the current research develops and applies a number of economic and political science techniques to a case study of Grampian Region, Scotland. First, the research evaluates the economic effectiveness of current arrangements for recreation provision and identifies where additional investment may be required. It achieves this by evaluating the costs and benefits associated with recreation improvements in Grampian Region and analyses these using a cost-benefit framework. The economic benefits accrued from recreational enhancements are measured using the Contingent Valuation method, whereas the costs are elicited from a survey of the actual expenditures of countryside organisations. The findings from this analysis allow the identification of those improvements to recreation opportunities which generate the greatest gains in social welfare. In turn, the effectiveness of current arrangements is further analysed in terms of the distribution of benefits across individuals and locations. The second component of the research addresses the adequacy of current provision using political science methodologies to the analysis of the roles and responsibilities of the public and voluntary sector organisations involved in recreation provision. The application of political science models to interpret the processes involved in recreation decision-making provided clarity to the nature of the interactions between countryside organisations. The application of both economic and political science methodologies ensures a theoretical diverse and policy relevant analysis of current recreation provision. The combination of both approaches results in comprehensive review of priorities for improvement to recreation policy.