Harmonising policy and technology : environmental regulation of mine waters in the United Kingdom and European Union
Amongst its many aims, the Research, Technology and Development (RTD) Programmes of the European Commission seek to achieve harmony between RTD projects and policy development. Serving this laudable aspiration, a programme of "action research" has been conducted with the aim of demonstrating that a European RTD project can be designed and implemented so that it effectively functions as a, platform for significantly influencing European policy-making. The research takes as its technical topic the management of mine waters, an activity which has great importance to achieving adequate environmental protection in many EU countries. The research centred around the management of the European project `ERMITE' (Environmental Regulation of Mine Waters in the European Union). Investigations were developed on three levels. Firstly, the United Kingdom was examined as a paradigmatic case study for mine water management, on the grounds that the UK is at the forefront of recent developments in Europe concerning mine water management. Secondly, building upon the UK case study, and taking into account findings from other elements of the broader ERMITE project, a platform was created from which to attempt to influence EU policy-making. An analysis of the existing regulation of mining in European environmental policies led to a critique of the highly preferential treatment which the mining sector has hitherto enjoyed within the EU regulatory framework. The most important outcome of this analysis was the identification of a range of key issues which must be taken into account if management of mine waters is to be properly incorporated into future EU policies. The third element of the research presented here is the analysis of the nature and efficacy of the various practice / policy-making interfaces developed by the ERMITE project, notably six national-level stakeholder groups, and EU-level interfaces with the European Commission, the European policy office of a major environmental NGO (WWF), and the European Parliament. The success of these interfaces in directly influencing the development of the proposed European Directive on the management of waste from the extractive industries is demonstrated, and wider implications for other interfaces between RTD and policy in the context of the European Union environmental policies are explored.