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Title: Sustainability discourses on controversial infrastructure development : investigating their mobilization in environmental impact assessment
Author: Rozema, Jakob
ISNI:       0000 0004 5366 8354
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis investigates the mobilization of sustainability discourses in environmental impact assessment (EIA) by looking at two cases, in the United Kingdom (UK) and the Netherlands. EIA is a procedure used for predicting the sustainability impacts associated with project development. It is reasoned that, where adverse sustainability impacts are likely to occur, situated civil society stakeholders involved in deliberating these impacts will mobilize discourses on how the proposed development relates to achieving sustainability objectives. Yet a pertinent question is whether EIA accommodates sustainability discourse mobilization, not least when the mode of public engagement is taken into account. Premised on the differences in institutional design and political culture between the UK and the Netherlands, the thesis aims to investigate whether and how the external influence exerted by institutions and political culture on public engagement is manifested in the mobilization of sustainability discourses in EIA. By focusing on the largescale infrastructure development projects of High-Speed rail 2 (HS2) in the UK and the A4 motorway connection between Delft and Schiedam (A4DS) in the Netherlands, it is found that institutional design and political culture have influenced sustainability discourse mobilization only to a very limited extent. This finding has been consistent across the two cases, despite institutional and cultural variance. Furthermore, it is found that EIA did not accommodate the mobilization of sustainability discourses, reflecting the absence of meaningful spaces for civil society engagement particularly with the scientific justification of why the projects are necessary. The thesis concludes that institutional design and political culture do not significantly influence sustainability discourse mobilization in cases where the use of science and expertise mediates public engagement, further compounded by the strict procedural aspects of EIA. It recommends that further research on sustainability discourses in infrastructure development focuses on the complex relationship between EIA and project justification.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available